Customer experience plays as much a part in their decision to stick with a vendor- or walk away from it -as that vendor’s product does. You might put a hair saloon on your mind’s blacklist not because they regularly make a mess of their customers’ hairs, but because their attendants are rude. You might also prefer to have your car fixed at a particular automobile workshop because its ambience seems unusually pleasant for a typical auto repair centre.
But it’s one thing to hand your client a professional smile from your customer service idea bank, and quite another to have a customer experience strategy that determines how your interactions with them should go. Unless you consciously set out to guarantee your clients a great experience, you could struggle to succeed at keeping them loyal to your brand.
Why customer experience matters
As we’ve already noted, our takeaways from our interactions with businesses could shape our perceptions of them. If you’re a businessperson, you’ll want to pay close attention to what customers think of the entirety of your brand, not just the products or services you offer.
Beyond attracting patronage from amongst the public, an outstanding customer experience also keeps existing customers happy. This is only possible when there is a clear objective to make their points of contact and interaction with your brand pleasant.
An efficiently executed customer experience strategy could translate into growth for any business. When your brand consistently treats its customers in a uniquely positive way, it’s bound to retain many of them- and attract new ones as well. This translates to more sales, a positive public image, and a bigger enterprise.
How to create (and sustain) an upbeat customer experience
Here are seven steps to making your business more interesting and enjoyable for customers.
- Put yourself in your customers’ shoes
Think of yourself as a customer of your own business. Then imagine that you’re going through the whole process of trying your brand out. Does the experience impress you in any special way? Is it convenient? Is the product easy to use? Are the people on the team courteous and accessible? Can they help out with any issues that arise with the company’s product?
In fact, every other step that follows relies on the realizations of this one. More often than not, this way of looking at ones’ own business reveals its defects, and could provide you with some of the best clues to fixing such issues.
- Feel your customers’ pulse
Playing your business’s customer (in your head or in in real life) isn’t a substitute for getting your customers’ actual opinions. While it’s true that customers don’t have the bird’s eye view of your business or the market you’re chasing, they’re the ones whose patronage your business needs to survive. Learning what they’d like to see in your business is key to building a truly customer-centred enterprise.
You can find out what appeals to them by identifying their personalities, psychographics, cultural preferences and other things that they identify with as individuals. The aim here would be to create a customer experience that mirrors these things, and appeals to your typical clients.
- Create a plan
This follows from the first two steps.
Lay out a map of your business’s interaction with customers. Identify the points in the process which are most likely to make an impression on customers, and designate plans to connect with them there. For example, if your clients have revealed the sort of ambiences that appeal to them, you could design your office space accordingly. If you run an online store, you’ll want to make your website easily navigable and use a simplified payments system.
- Get everyone on your team involved
Communicate each team members’ responsibilities as regards this plan to them. Solicit suggestions from them as well, and use any of their ideas you think could help your drive to building a top notch customer experience.
- Give your customers more than just a product
We buy things because we believe they add some kind of value to our lives. The more value we think we’re getting from a brand, the more willing we are to stay loyal to it. You’ll need this mindset to make your customer experience plans work.
First, ensure that your product is as good as you can afford to make it. Then offer more than the product- say, information that might benefit your typical customer. For instance, if you run a car dealership, you could supply your buyers with useful autocare tips on a regular basis, and even provide them a list of trusted automobile workshops where they can have specific vehicle problems fixed.
Businesses which adopt this approach tend to gain the trust of their customers, because it demonstrates a commitment to adding value to customers’ lives.
- Focus on the senses
Physical experiences can’t be had apart from the senses. A truly meticulous strategy for pleasing customers will reflect this point. A restaurant will aim to serve fine meals in a neat space; but if it wants to leave a more lasting impression on its visitors, it could have its walls and decorations painted and designed to fit a theme; it could have music of a particular genre constantly playing in the background; it might also deliberately let the aroma of fried ckicken hang in the air. Customers won’t forget these in a hurry.
- Track progress
Watch for reactions to your strategy. If it works, it’ll show in positive comments from customers, increased sales, and sustained business growth.
Changes can always be made along the way when they’re needed. Just be sure they’re done on the right points and for the right reasons.