Happy customers are the core of any successful business. The best way to ensure this end result is to focus on creating a great customer experience. At the end of the day, customers literally make or break your business.
Do you ever feel it’s like a lottery where you hope you’re doing the right thing, but it’s the luck of the draw whether you have the winning ticket? Don’t worry, luck has nothing to do with an excellent customer experience. It’s completely within our control to build a business that excels in delighting customers. Any efforts to make customers’ lives easier and better will pay off in increased loyalty — and profits.
Want to wow your customers? Here’s your playbook.
- Commit yourself publicly.
- Get everyone on board.
- Talk to your customers.
- Be open to feedback (even the negative kind).
- Use social media to gain insight.
Let’s start with defining customer experience before giving you 5 tried-and-tested steps to ultimate customer happiness.
What exactly is customer experience?
Put simply, it’s the way your customer perceives your business — which is the result of every interaction they have with it. Is customer experience the same as customer service? No.
Customer service is an important part of the customer experience, but it’s only one cog in the wheel.
For example, when a customer jumps on your website to look for a specific product or find the answer to a question, this interaction is part of the customer experience. Is your website easy to get around? Is there an FAQs (frequently asked questions) section? These interactions will influence the way a customer feels about your business. A website that’s confusing or hard-to-use is likely to send your customer away scowling.
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Customer experience basics
Before we jump in, here are a couple of ground rules:
Common sense prevails
Customer loyalty and increased revenue are unlikely if a business doesn’t place customers centre stage. A commitment to a customer-centric strategy is non-negotiable.
Authenticity is essential
Anyone can spot a fake, especially today’s customer who’s bombarded with marketing messages. Be yourself and your customers will know you’re the real deal.
Customers know when a company is after their money — it’s obvious. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to make money, but never forget you’re dealing with actual people.
5-step guide to delighting your customers
There’s no secret to improving customer loyalty and thereby growing your business. Just follow these steps.
Step 1. Commit yourself publicly
‘The customer is king’ is a catch phrase we hear or read often. Most of us don’t believe it because our experiences have shown us there’s no real commitment to put the customer first.
If you’re serious about taking your customer experience to a new level, then incorporate it into your business’ vision and own it. Place it on the home page of your website and in all your marketing materials.
Step 2. Get everyone on board
An outstanding customer experience can only be achieved when everyone’s on the same page. Achieving customer happiness isn’t the sole responsibility of the customer service staff in your business — it’s everyone’s responsibility, from the front counter to the billing office.
It’s not so much about what employees do as their mindset — because this governs behaviour across your business. And this type of change takes time. Publicly reward those who get it right, perhaps with an employee-of-the-week program and/or a bonus.
Step 3. Talk to your customers
It sounds cliché but you must put yourself in your customers’ shoes and think like them. Customer feedback plays a crucial role in this process, yet few companies collect this type of feedback to improve the customer experience.
Not sure what your customers think about your business? Ask.
Asking your customers targeted questions to understand what influenced their buying decision and why they chose your company over a competitor is valuable information. You can get these answers with a simple survey or do more in-depth market research for a fuller picture.
People love to talk about themselves. Yet less than 20% of companies prioritise getting this type of customer feedback.
Step 4. Be open to feedback (even the negative kind)
Feedback is a business owner’s best friend. Even negative feedback can be turned into a positive by listening to the customer’s key messages.
- Did your website make promises that weren’t kept?
- Did the product take too long to arrive?
- Was the customer consultant rude on the phone?
All of these things can be remedied with an apology, a review and adjustment of your internal processes and possibly a gift or discount for the customer.
Of course, it’s important to distinguish between genuine feedback and a customer who simply delights in writing bad reviews. But respond to every customer review, regardless. Others who see your comments will appreciate your commitment to making it right.
Step 5. Use social media to gain insight
Many business owners dread social media, usually as a result of a bad experience. However, social media is an easy way to directly interact with your customers.
Social media may not be the preferred platform for every customer, but if your customers live on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, it’s a tool waiting to be used.
Don’t rest until they’re happy
It’s easy to drown in marketing terminology and draw the conclusion that this customer experience stuff is too hard. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Running a successful business is ultimately about people and creating a brand your customers can connect with and love.
Keep your customers at the centre of what you’re doing.
Give them the opportunity to let you know how you’re doing. Use your common sense, be who you say you are and walk the talk. If you follow these simple tips, you’ll be on your way to long-term growth.