The buying process is evolving along with how customers want to engage and be treated.
According to Forbes, 70% of the buying experience is based on how a customer feels they are treated when dealing with a company.
Customers also admit to being prepared to pay a premium for services from businesses that place their needs at the heart of an engagement.
It’s therefore vital in today’s digital age that businesses consider their Customer Experience (CX) capability more broadly than a commitment on a website or behaviours demonstrated by frontline employees. Customer experience should be engrained in business culture and embodied at all levels of the organisation.
This change in consumer trend is driving business leaders to place CX at the forefront of strategic importance to ensure retention and support future customer acquisition. And with the recent acceleration of digital transformation due to the global pandemic, a differentiated customer experience has become ever more critical.
Unfortunately, businesses do not get many chances to get the customer experience right. One in three consumers says they would leave a brand they love after just one poor experience.
So, what can businesses do to improve their customer experience?
Treat your customers as partners.
A study by PWC found that 54% of consumers say customer experience at most companies ‘needs improvement’. More concerning is that only 1 in 26 customers who receive a poor experience actually complain to the businesses responsible.
This lack of feedback creates a gap between the outcome’s businesses believe they are providing and the actual customer experience. Businesses that fail to pro-actively build relationships with clients and seek tangible feedback may be unaware of any shortcomings until it’s too late.
Businesses can improve customer experience by regularly spending dedicated time with their customers, even when there are no active engagements. Using this time to draw feedback and understand the challenges they face along with how you can help remove any barriers or unnecessary friction when dealing with your business.
This additional time and attention leads to a more open and trusting partnership with the customer, leaving them to feel your business is an extension of theirs. While enabling you to improve and personalise your overall experience from insight and demonstrating to the customer, you value their feedback. These improvements can be shared with other clients, further amplifying your customer experience.
Place the customer at the centre of everything you do.
Business leaders can be guilty of focusing on financially motivated metrics to define success for a given period, leading to inward-facing and business-centric strategies.
Businesses should aim to accompany these metrics with less easily measurable customer-focused insight, such as the current customer temperature, overall contract performance, or recommendation scores, to gain a more holistic picture of performance.
Utilise these measures in conjunction with a review of each area of the organisation from the customers perspective to map out the end-to-end customer journey and highlight any areas of improvement. Aim to understand if business processes or interactions improve or dilute the overall customer experience and work to improve them where possible.
Don’t be afraid to remove processes altogether that do not benefit the customer experience, so long as compliancy is not compromised.
Build a culture that shares and cares about your obligations.
As an absolute minimum, providing a positive customer experience starts with doing what you say you will do.
When a customer interacts with your business, you assume obligations, both written and verbal; meeting these expectations over the course of the relationship is how trust and brand loyalty are earned. If not addressed early, a disconnect between the contractual and customer expectations can leave the relationship at risk of disrepair.
Business should consider creating a mechanism to highlight these commitments and obligations to all departments who interact with the customer. Information should be easily accessible and maintained throughout the lifetime of the engagement as the landscape changes. This will support colleagues in navigating these obligations and guide those new to the relationship.
Businesses need to adopt a Customer Success approach, where they assign customer champions to act as the voice of the customer within their organisation. These individuals/teams can help instil the governance to establish procedure and thresholds, ensuring early capture of potential issues for remediation. While helping manage the customer’s perception and use of the provided services.
Embrace technology to improve your customer interactions.
Customers expect a more seamless and digitally enabled experience from the businesses they interact with. Consistency across the different media platforms is key in ensuring retention and delivering a positive experience.
Business should approach technology improvements by baselining where they are today vs where they want to be tomorrow. This means reviewing how customers interact with their business and how mature these interactions points are while looking at where technology can address the gaps.
Increasing your digital footprint can increase your customer reach and offer additional ways to conduct business. However, businesses should only consider the introduction of technology to help enhance the experience, not just replace it. A key ingredient of customer experience is the ability to show traits such as empathy and passion. Be sure to get the balance right and not to lose sight of the human touch. Ensure your technology is easy to use and your employees are on hand to step in if an issue occurs. Getting the adoption of technology right should enhance your customer journey and drive the experience to the desired outcome. Every time.