6 Ways to Improve the Customer Experience
Recently I was babysitting “Spanky”, my in-laws medium-sized, energetic canine, who was with me in the bank drive-through. The teller noticed Spanky in the backseat and we had a brief back and forth about dogs while she processed my deposit and then returned the “space capsule” (at least that’s what I call it). To the surprise and delight of both man and dog, included with my receipt was a crunchy, miniature dog bone for Spanky. Needless to say, Spanky and I were grinning ear-to-ear as we drove off. Errands are as common and uneventful as it gets, but my teller saw an opportunity and seized the moment. She recognized how to transform a mundane transaction into something much more magical.
Many companies are “in the hole” from the start
If you’re in a business where you service, repair or replace equipment or products, your customers often come to you pre-frustrated and pre-disappointed. That’s because this is not a fun or discretionary transaction for them such as buying a new TV or car. This unplanned, unwanted equipment failure has them off their game and a little on edge. This makes your line of work especially challenging–the fact that every day you’re entering situations as “the bad guy” even though you’re actually the good guy.
But this built-in “deficit” is also what makes your work so opportunistic. Customers can easily be won over for the long-term by a company who not only resolves their presenting problem, but who provides them with an exceptional, memorable customer experience at the same time. What if your business arsenal included an expertise in delighting customers? That’s where you can really get the edge. And the trickle-down is gains in customer engagement, repeat and referral business, positive online reviews, employee performance, and overall profitability.
According to a Customer Experience Impact Report from Oracle,when consumers were asked what specific thing a company could do to motivate them to spend more, the majority said “improve the overall customer experience.” 81% also said they are willing to pay more for a better customer experience.
How to improve the customer experience
So here are 6 steps every organization should consider:
- Top-down mindset. Company culture and team member attitude are the by-product of the culture and attitude at the top. Make a commitment at the executive level that you will be a customer-obsessed organization who delights customers at every turn. Commit to evaluating the customer journey through the eyes of the customer. From your web presence, to your phone presence, to your brick-and-mortar presence, consider the customer journey from the customer’s vantage point.
- Middle management buy-in. Executive vision needs support from the middle. In your management meetings, discuss how to center your organization around the customer experience. Incorporate a new corporate language that includes the concepts of “delighting,” “wowing,” “exceeding expectations,” “customer-centricity”, and “customer-obsessed”. Help management empower front-line staff with practical ways to delight customers. The immediate response and expectation of every situation should habitually be “customers first.”
- Team member execution. C-level vision is ultimately executed at the team member level, so make customer experience training a required part of your curriculum. Also empower and equip your team with the resources and freedom to delight customers on the fly—just like my teller with the dog bone.
- Reward your team. The reward system is powerful, so implement rewards tied to providing exceptional customer experiences. Spiff employees based on monthly or quarterly customer satisfaction performance.
- Reward your customers. Appreciation is highly underrated. Greeting cards and surveys are common. But something more unique, such as a tangible thank you gift, can go a long way. Everyone loves treats, so use universal comfort food such as freshly baked cookies to create a lasting impression and cultivate a strong emotional bond with your customer base. And according to Gallup, highly engaged customers are off the charts when it comes to brand loyalty and advocacy, lower price sensitivity, and their likelihood to recommend and use your services again.
- Listen and respond to customer demands in real-time. Use customer surveys to solicit feedback after every transaction and utilize a cloud-based analytics platform that helps you organize the feedback so it’s actionable. Use the feedback to quickly resolve customer dissatisfaction and to privately coach or publicly praise team members.
Look to differentiate your company on the customer experience. That’s how you get the competitive advantage and build an energized, loyal following. You can get there. You’re just 6 steps away.
To Your Success!