Creating a positive customer experience isn’t complicated, but it does require commitment and planning. It’s important now more than ever to help customers feel safe and support them as they navigate difficult times. The coronavirus pandemic lets us re-evaluate how we interact with our customers and meet their most urgent priorities.
Why a Positive Customer Experience Is the Foundation of Business Success
Investing in customer experience management makes sense from a business perspective. Meeting customer needs is becoming even more important than price and product, and it is central to building your brand.
Focusing on customer experience and needs can drive up revenue between 4 and 8 percent, reports Forbes.
According to the 2020 Global Customer Experience Benchmarking Report by NTT, almost 42 percent of companies said that improved customer service led to increased earnings.
Microsoft's 2019 State of Global Customer Service report found that 95 percent of customers say customer service impacts their loyalty to a brand.
Per a SuperOffice article, the three main reasons companies invest in the customer experience are:
To improve cross-selling and up-selling (42 percent)
To improve customer retention (33 percent)
To improve customer satisfaction (32 percent)
How to Prioritize and Plan Your Customer Experience Improvements
You can prioritize improvements across your whole business based on every customer touchpoint, interaction or “moment of truth.” Gather and analyze information from the following areas to understand what really matters:
Customer relationship management and reports
Surveys asking customers what they think
Feedback customers have provided in messages, emails, calls and other interactions with your team
Metrics from your customer service area that show where the main problems are
Talking to employees about what they believe needs to change
Customer needs will likely fall broadly into several areas. Explore your data to identify and categorize common customer problems, then prioritize improvements based on how much they will improve the customer journey.
Common Types of Customer Needs (and How to Solve Them)
Attention to Health and Safety
Ensure customers feel safe and secure when interacting with your business. Safety and health are at the forefront of everyone’s minds, and businesses need to meet customer needs by ensuring they feel secure. At the same time, organizations need to ensure security in other ways, like fraud prevention and maintaining a low-risk environment.
If customers need to interact with your products and services physically, take extra precautions: proper distancing, PPE, curbside service and no-touch deliveries will all help customers feel safer.
Respect a customer’s wishes when they interact with your employees, unless they’re putting staff or other customers at risk.
Use technology to reduce the likelihood of payment issues, credit and debit card fraud or identity theft.
Ensure the physical environment of your business meets all health and safety regulations.
Attention spans are short and customers want fast and easy access to your business, products and services. You need to let them interact over multiple channels and offer a common experience, however they want to get in touch.
Invest in customer self-service, so they can perform tasks and troubleshoot problems themselves.
If you’re primarily an online business, build a forum and community where customers can chat and help each other.
Allow customers to buy your products and services wherever they are: create a mobile-responsive website, enable buying over social media and get involved with popular online marketplaces.
Optimize the buying and fulfillment process for speed: look at ways to shave time off of your operations to get products and services to customers as quickly as possible.
Information for Making Smart, Informed Decisions
Your customers have never had more choice, so when it comes to deciding on the right product or service, you need to provide the right information in the right way.
Look at your products and services from the customer’s perspective and create content that clearly explains the features, benefits and aspects of what you offer.
Create comparisons between products so people can see, at a glance, what’s right for them.
Invest in clear instructions, support guides and knowledge bases that tell your customers what they need to know.
Provide information in different ways: text, video, interactive guides, printed manuals and other channels all work well.
Build different types of products and services for various uses.
Be careful of “analysis paralysis” and limit the number of similar products available — guide customers to the choice that best meets their needs.
Train your staff so they’re experts and can offer helpful advice.
Quality Products and Value for Money
Selling more products isn’t about minimizing price, it’s about maximizing value: clearly communicating how your products and services will meet a user’s needs will go a long way towards the purchase decision.
Communicate product benefits and features in a way that speaks to the customer’s underlying need.
Investigate what competitors are doing to differentiate themselves.
Don’t always look for the cheapest solution: aim for a balance of price, quality and a good fit with the customer.
Improve products by using comments from customers when you’re planning new features or fixes.
Above and Beyond Service
True customer service means doing that "little bit more.” Customer service has a very high impact on customer experience. Investing in great customer service isn’t just about troubleshooting issues and solving problems; it can transform how a customer thinks about your business.
Provide a fast, easy, customer-focused returns policy.
Keep your promises on price, shipping, quality and all other aspects of how you sell and manage products.
Hire workers with an excellent customer approach, whether they’re front line or work behind the scenes.
Always keep the customer informed, especially if they have a problem.
Think about how you can make the customer’s life a tiny bit brighter, whether that’s including a handwritten note with a delivery, empathizing with their issues or providing add-on services.
With more businesses than ever investing in the customer journey, it’s important to put it front and center in your business. Remember to:
Ensure customers feel safe and secure.
Focus on the customer perspective, including speed and convenience.
Give customers the right information to make smart decisions.
Demonstrate the quality and value of your products and services.
Drive improvements throughout the customer service experience.
Customer service is just one area your business may need help with. Incfile has plenty of information and tools that can assist you with growing your small business and improving your customer service.
Paul is a freelance writer, small business owner, and British expat exploring the U.S. When he’s not politely apologizing, he enjoys hats, hockey, Earl Grey Tea, mountains, and dogs.