Customer expectations are high. The ability to search online for at least a handful of different options for most products and services has made it tricky to stand out. How can you create customers so loyal that they’ll never seek out competitors again?
Customer experience has emerged as a front-runner and is pegged to overtake price, product and expertise as the differentiator by 2020 according to Salesforce Research. So, how can you take advantage of it?
Tip 1. Understand your customer
Step into your customers’ shoes and try to understand what will make you their go-to. Here’s how you can do just that:
Collect data: Use data from analytics, case studies, interviews, and surveys to profile your customers.
Organise similarities: Group together similar profiled customers based on factors important to your business.
Humanise them: Turn this information into real people, aka a buyer persona. This can include information about their personal and professional backgrounds, goals and how they seek out information.
This final step is key - creating buyer personas allows you to put a face to the data so you can better tap into their emotions which is essential to driving a great customer experience.
Tip 2. Create a customer experience strategy
Loyalty, reduced churn and innovation are all outputs of a good customer experience strategy. For it to really work, it needs to be aligned with your business objectives. Here’s what you can evaluate:
Review your business objectives: Are you hoping to gain new customers? Launch a new product? Grow expenditure from your current customer base?
Align customer experience with your business goals: For example, if launching a new product, the voice of your customer can identify opportunities
Remove barriers: Identify where extra resources (like technology, processes or people) can help.
Review and reassess: Constant reviewing of objectives and corresponding customer experience strategy will keep you on track.
Tip 3. Have the right team in place
Without employee buy-in, customer experience can’t exist. In fact, you don’t just want employees, you want a team of brand ambassadors. Here are some tips for creating your dream team:
Share business objectives: Feeling part of the bigger picture creates an engaged and aligned team.
Reiterate customer experience goals: Putting this at the heart of your organisation sets expectations.
Keep them engaged: Happy, valued employees are more willing to go the extra mile. This is where customer experience magic happens.
Hone their skills: Some people are naturals connectors, but it’s also a skill that can be taught. A team of employees that make customers feel valued is invaluable.
Tip 4. Continue your customer relationships after purchase
Hallelujah! The purchase has been made, sales are hitting record highs - but don’t rest on your laurels just yet...
Showing customers you care beyond the sale is where you build loyalty. While asking for feedback from customers is nothing new, closing the loop on it is often neglected. All feedback should be responded to as quickly as possible (not just the negative), showing them you care - at every stage. Don’t forget to reward loyalty - it can turn happy customers into your biggest fans.
Spotlight on social - the anonymity of social media (and review sites) can often lead to brutally honest feedback. Having a dedicated team or person active to respond will not only keep that customer happy but also anyone else who has seen the post.
Tip 5: Analyse your metrics
Like most strategies, success comes from the ability to track how you’re doing over time. There are tons of metrics available that not only assess performance, but help uncover opportunities and measure the impact of new initiatives. Net Promoter Score (or NPS), for example, is a simple metric which shows the percentage of customers who would or wouldn’t recommend your business to family or friends. Giving you an overall score for your business (which is easily tracked over time) and invaluable opportunities to respond to individual customers on a personal level.
Tip 6: Continue to refine your strategy
As you continue to develop your customer experience strategy, make sure you regularly reflect and adjust along the way. Empowering employees to answer customer queries will create a customer-centric culture and rewarding customer experience superstars will further foster this.
Attracting new customers can be an expensive business, which is why holding onto existing ones and turning them into cheerleaders just makes sense. Developing a solid strategy can be the difference between surviving and thriving and can undoubtedly give you an edge over your competitors. It’s important to get your strategy right the first time. as you might not get a second chance.