Customers Seek Experiences, Not Just Service
Traditional customer service is not good enough for today’s customers. Consumers now are seeking more than services, they want experiences. But what are they, why do they matter, and how can your business ensure that you’re providing a good customer experience?
When you look at today’s most successful companies—think Starbucks, Amazon, Tesla, Netflix—they aren’t just providing customer service, they are providing a customer experience.
What is the customer experience?
While customer service refers to a single event during the customer’s entire journey with a brand, “Customer experience (CX) is everything related to a business that affects a customer's perception and feelings about it. It is the sum of all the interactions that a customer has with an organization over the life of the relationship with that company or with that brand.”
Why is the customer experience important?
Customers who enjoy positive experiences become loyal and will return again and again. The long-term relationships established with returning customers leads to greater profitability because they want to purchase from brands they know and trust. And those customers who have had repeated positive experiences are more likely to advocate for your company or brand with their friends, family and followers.
How can you ensure a good customer experience?
- Make things easy for the customer. Making things easy for the customer is the bare minimum that they expect from you. Look at every step of the customer journey and determine where you can remove any pain points. Can you simplify or streamline any processes, eliminate any hang ups, or otherwise make it easier for your customers to purchase from you? Consider how they shop—is your online ordering portal robust enough? Are there any other benefits you can or should offer?
- Empower the customer through technology. Are there ways you can use technology to engage with your customers in new and exciting ways? Technology can make the customer experience greater than ever before with advancements like chatbots, online portals, apps, live and video chats, and more. Using artificial intelligence (AI) can both take the burden off your company to answer routine questions or direct customers to common solutions, empowering them to find the information they need, whenever they need it, with minimal effort or time required.
- Offer personalization. An outgrowth of the information above, technology also allows integrated marketers to personalize their messaging to clients. Use technology to send custom messages, track customer response and improve your reply time. Take the initiative to set up your customer management system internally and progressively add to your customers’ personas. Look at the actions of your customers and prospects (browsing history, purchases made, pages visited, actions taken) to generate even more targeted messaging.
- Deliver superior service. Superior service goes far beyond standard customer care. With superior service you anticipate your customer needs based on the data you have collected. Look at your customers’ preferences, interests and past interactions and then deliver beyond their expectations. The goal of this level of service is to make the customer happy, allowing them to briefly forget how hard they work or their current stressors.
Superior service looks different for every company, but it could be as simple as a retailer sending out a text message notifying the customer that something they wished to purchase is unavailable but offering a discount on a similar item. Or a hotel upgrading a customer without being asked because their room was double-booked. It may involve making it easier for them to make changes to their account online, so they don’t have to spend time on the phone, repeating their information to a series of representatives.
Is there a time of year when your clients are more likely to need something from you? Why not proactively reach out and let them know it’s on hand and offer them special pricing?
- Listen to your customers. It’s time to actively solicit customer feedback. Whether this is something you do by directly asking questions of customers, distributing polls, or through an app, take the time to listen to what your customers are telling you, collect that information and determine how and where you can reasonably implement their suggestions.
Because the goal is to be customer-centric, the best thing you can do is pay attention when your customers tell you exactly what they want and need, and how you can improve their experience. Customer satisfaction skyrockets when they see that their advice and suggestions are being taken seriously and that you are working hard to earn and keep their business.