In the past, businesses found it much easier to compartmentalise customer experience. It began when they walked through the front door and ended when they walked out. But today, thanks to the rise of digital technology and ever-connected smartphones, it’s a different story.
Customers are connected to businesses wherever they go, creating many more “touch points,” increasing the number of interactions well beyond that which existed before.
Harvard Business Review argues that we should view the customer experience not as something that happens in respect to a single function of a business, but how a customer feels after having interacted with a business across a range of situations.
A “touchpoint” as they’re called in the marketing jargon, is any time when a customer comes into contact with the company brand, whether in-person, at an event, on social media, on their website or app, is exposed to their advertising, does business with them, or when reading the reviews of another customer.
Businesses have to manage this complex experience space if they want to be successful, but many don’t understand how it works or how it affects their brand.
Many businesses are still stuck in the old way of thinking, believing that the customer experience begins and ends with a single function, like their product, their customer service team, or successful checkout.
The latest thinking suggests that the way that customers feel about a business arises from the sum of their engagements with that company.
In this article, we’re going to investigate the seven fundamental customer experience principles your business needs to stick with for lasting success.
7 Fundamental CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE Principles
1. Sweat The Small Stuff
If you listen to today’s business gurus, they’re keen on the idea that companies need to do things “ten times better” and “disrupt their industries.” And while the idea might sound good in a soundbite, it’s not something that most companies can practically achieve.
Orders-of-magnitude improvements are something Moore’s Law made possible in computing. Businesses can’t accomplish the same leaps in other activities outside that realm.
The truth is that you don’t need your customer service to be 10 times better than the competition; just being 1% better consistently will do the trick.
It all comes back to customer expectations.
Customers want your customer service to offer them something slightly better than the competition. Clients want you to solve their problems and to do so in a way that makes it worthwhile sticking with you. Doing things just slightly better than your competitors is often enough to convince customers not to look elsewhere.
The truth is that customer service is all in the details.
Small things like calling customers by their correct name, integrating conversations you’ve had with them on the internet with those you have on the phone, and fixing issues when they arise are what matter.
These are the sorts of things that customers remember and make a difference.
2. Identify Customers Pain Points And Address Them
“Pain points” is just industry jargon that describes the problems that customers have and that they want you to solve. For instance, travel agents “solve” the customer’s pain of having to organise a holiday by arranging it all on their behalf.
A fundamental principle of creating a ten out of ten customer experience is to address these pain points. Customers want that sense of satisfaction that comes with the surprise they feel when they see that you understand their problems and how to fix them. Sometimes you can’t address the pain point directly, but merely acknowledging them can make a tremendous difference to the way a customer feels about you.
Create a list of customer pain points. Find out what they want or what they don’t like about your current setup. And then generate a list of priorities for you and your team to deal with the problem.
3. Update Your Knowledge Of Customer Needs
As technology and tastes change, customer needs evolve. As a business, it’s important for you to be able to stay up to date with these changes.
If you don’t, you risk losing competitive advantage.
How do you update your knowledge of customer needs?
Just ask them.
Collect feedback, create a customer survey, review your frequently asked questions, and keep a beady eye on reviews if your customers post online.
4. Know The Customer Experience That You’d Like To Create
Excellent customer service doesn’t just magically pop into existence: it’s something that a business must craft.
Some of the most successful companies in the world created world-beating brands because they took the time to discuss the customers to experience they wanted to create.
Think about how you’d like to be treated if you were a customer interacting with your business.
You might want unwrapping to be “an event” with fabulous packaging for your product. Or you might want ongoing support, even years after buying a product or service.
Stepping into your customers’ shoes is vital to creating a positive customer experience.
5. Make The Experience Personal
Companies can create an excellent customer experience and generate loyalty when they personalise their services.
A personalised service is rare and something that customer know that they won’t get if they go somewhere else. When you create a personalised service, you become a monopoly, providing the precise service that the customer wants.
For example, the barista who knows that you drink only decaf and you love marshmallows on your latte can prepare your drink without you having to go through the rigmarole of giving instructions. The florist who knows that you don’t like white flowers so leaves them out of the bouquet does a similar thing.
It’s all about meeting customer needs in the moment automatically.
6. Show Appreciation
Most of your customers work hard for their money. So when they spend it with you, they want to feel as if you appreciate the time and effort they’ve invested in buying your products and services.
Even small gestures of appreciation make an enormous difference to the customer experience.
How could you show customers that you appreciate them?
Well, if you have a group of select customers who spend a large amount of money with your business consistently, then you might want to create a VIP category for them. A VIP category might entitle them to exclusive discounts, priority service, or special gift packaging – the choice is yours.
The key is to make customers feel as if they are special to you and that you genuinely feel grateful for their interest in your business.
7. Resolve Issues Quickly
Research by Salesforce suggests that 80% of business customers and 64% of consumers expect businesses to resolve their issues there and then, as they bring them to your attention.
Businesses, therefore, need to be able to react in real time to provide customers with the experience that they expect: no mean feat.
This is all being driven by the culture of connected devices: people expect instant service and resolution to their problems, no matter how complex.
Resolving problems is an opportunity for your business.
When you effectively help a customer with an issue that they’re having, it builds trust, convinces them of your competence, and encourages loyalty.
Customers no longer want to wait on the phone while you resolve their problems or have conversations with you over multiple days – they want you to fix whatever’s wrong in the here and now. Savvy businesses, therefore, should build strategies for resolving common complaints and issues fast.
On a final note, it’s worth pointing out that applying all of these principles together will yield a greater effect than any individually. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. A comprehensive approach is, therefore, best.
Which customer experience principles can you improve on to create a 10/10 customer experience in your business?