We hear so much about customer experience, that I was afraid writing about it would be too obvious. Just like telling you that Black Friday is coming closer and you need to get ready.
As I dig deeper into the subject, I realized, we know customer experience is important and that it basically means we need to be nice to customers, but there’s a whole strategy behind it. And not many companies have that.
Let’s begin with explaining customer experience.
Two definitions seem suitable:
1. Customer experience is the sum of all the experiences a customer has with a company during the entire relationship. It’s important how memorable and personal these experiences get.
2. Customer experience is about the quality of an individual experience a customer has over the course of a single transaction.
You need customer experience management, with the right strategy, to bring this to life and that’s what I want to cover in this article.
The goal of customer experience management
The goal of customer experience management is to strengthen relationship with customers and evoke emotions in them, so they come back to you after the first transaction. When they do, you need to be able to manage this great customer experience that will distinguish you from the competition.
Before you do, read about a few reasons why this whole thing fails sometimes so you know what to avoid.
Why do you fail to deliver great customer experience?
I can think of three reasons why customer experience management doesn’t work in your company and customers don’t leave you delightful reviews on social media. Read carefully:
#1 It’s not planned
Great customer experience don’t just happen by you being nice for a customer. It needs to be planned. Unfortunately, there’s a long way from a plan to the execution, right? You need a strategy with all the points, from getting a vision to measuring your actions.
#2 It’s planned badly
Companies often plan customer interactions from their own perspective, when in fact they should do it from a customer’s perspective. The goal of customer experience management is to build customer loyalty and reduce customer churn. You can do it by improving customer interactions entirely by focusing on the customers’ journey from their perspective.
#3 You have a good plan but the execution is bad
All employees need to be engaged in each stage of delivering great customer experience. How many times have you seen businesses who are left alone without an owner and employees did what they wanted there? They were rude to customers just because nobody supervised them. That’s why you need a strategy and an execution plan with the ability to measure it.
If you’re not convinced yet to start working on your strategy, check out the benefits of customer experience management.
Benefits of customer experience management
If you learn how to skillfully manage the customer experience, you’ll enjoy the benefits that come out from it. For example: reduced churn, enhanced customer satisfaction and increased revenue.
But happy customers also mean happy employees (and their bosses). The more satisfied customers you have, the easier the job of customer service agents. It’s simply because they don’t have to deal with irate and frustrated customers all the time. Instead, they can peacefully answer questions while sipping their coffee.
If you’re still thinking that improving customer experience is not necessary, try talking with angry customers once in awhile. I guarantee you, improving customer experience will quickly shift to the top goals on your list.
That is, right after you make yourself that coffee – I mean what a better way to start creating amazing experiences, right?
How to create a customer experience strategy
1. Create a clear customer experience vision
If you have an ice cream store and implement a new flavor, you would tell all your employees about it, right?
The same should be with the customer experience vision. Making sure all employees know that customer service is the core vision in your company, is a must to make it successful. Set things straight from the very beginning. Even during an interview you can present a simple case study of an irate customer and ask a potential employee how they would react. Even though all of them would tell you they would be calm and handle everything smoothly, it’s not the point.
You will see if they understand that customers’ behavior is irrational and that they don’t take it personally. If so, there are big chances they would handle it right.
Zappos use their core family values that are embedded into their culture. The culture includes delivering “wow” through their service, being humble and embracing a change. You need to implement these principles into all areas of training and development to make sure your entire team knows these principles.
2. Understand your customers’ needs and cases
During your customer service journey, you will deal with different types of customers. Let me remind you: Mr. I Want it Now, Mr. Complainer, Mr. I Know Better and Mr. Lazy. These are just examples.
You can prepare your own personas you face in your business and how to deal with them.
Let’s say, Kate is 26, she’s a technology freak, and knows everything about your product. How would you talk to her? What information will you send her in your emails?
Or Ben, who’s 33 and doesn’t really know much about technology which means you need to know how to explain everything to him in simple words. Although it may seem easy, we often have no idea how to explain the way our product works in simple words. You can create spreadsheets that all employees use when they have difficulties.
3. Deepen your relationships with customers
Imagine you attend two parties. At one party, people talk and do things you don’t particularly like, and at the other party, you have fun because you play games you love. Where do you have amazing experience?
Obviously, you have the best experience at the second party, because you felt comfortable and appreciated there.
In business, once you learn how to handle customers, make sure you get to know them and create an emotional connection with them. The better they feel with you, the better experience they have.
According to Harvard Business Review Study “The New Science of Customer Emotions,” emotionally engaged customers are:
Make your customers feel like they come to the party you made especially for them!
4. Gather real–time feedback from your customers
Most companies approach customer experience management by engaging in customer feedback a lot. After all, the best way to find out what the other person is missing is to ask them about it, right? (Assuming they will tell you the truth, of course).
Like in every healthy relationship, you shouldn’t be afraid to gather feedback frequently. You can also do the annual summary by sending a survey to your customers, but I’m afraid it won’t do the job. Frequent feedback helps you improve right on the spot, and decreases the chances of customers going away.
Once you gather feedback, make sure to share the insights across the organization. Don’t keep it to yourself. Employees have to know what customers like and what needs to be improved. But make it smart.
The most helpful feedback is the one shared in a timely fashion and in the most relevant way for each department. Your developers don’t care if your support agents can’t handle irate customers, but they sure are curious what new features do they want in the product.
5. Refer to the feedback you got
Have you ever thought if it makes sense to write a review to the hotel you’ve been to? Everything was great, but there was one small thing that you feel should be improved. “Well, it’s just the one thing, there’s no point of writing it.” You’re probably afraid your feedback will get lost among many others. That’s exactly what you shouldn’t do to your customers.
Applying the changes is not a must, but you need to refer to what they wrote to you. This way you encourage them to leave you feedback in the future.
There probably will be a difference between what you have defined and what your customers think about your experience. If you gather feedback and don’t take any action, it will go to waste. So try to minimize this gap you’re aware of now and you’ll be one step closer to delivering great experience.
6. Measure the ROI from delivering great customer experience
You need to know if the investment in the process is paying off. Measuring is always challenging but it’s necessary to draw any conclusions.
A lot of companies use NPS as a standard customer experience measurement. We wrote about NPS many times, so I’ll just give you the right article.
Are you ready for customer experience management
We often hear about great social actions companies made, whether they required money or not to deliver a great experience. For example free drinks on a bus stop, life–changing gifts from ATM instead of money at TD Bank, all kinds of contests for customers with free stuff.
But we should realize, what matters the most is the way you treat your customers on a daily basis and how you talk to them when they’re really angry.
It’s about how much they can depend on you and what you’re willing to do to make their dreams (experience) come true thanks to your product or service.
So yes, you can make a buzz on social media about yourself, but just don’t forget the most important is what other people don’t see. And how customers feel about you every day.
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