In the latest Brand Watch report, the entertainment industry delivered the most positive customer experience in 2020 with joy being the primary emotion. In contrast, the overriding emotion associated with airlines was frustration, particularly around the handling of refunds. As we embrace the new normal, is your brand providing the best possible customer experience?
What is Customer Experience?
The perception of your brand extends far beyond the product or service that you offer. The differentiating factor that gives you the competitive advantage is how the customer feels when they interact with your brand. It is subjective and emotional, so what does it take to make the customer feel good?
Improving the Customer Experience
Alison Page Marketing takes pride in offering tailored marketing support. Our success is dependent on building strong relationships with clients.
We believe that the following factors are vital for a positive customer experience:
- Customers are considered more valuable than sales
- Value is added at every opportunity
- Digital processes improve efficiency
- Employees are valued and empowered to improve service
- Customer expectations are managed
- Issues are addressed efficiently and learnt from
We will cover these points in greater detail, but firstly, let’s clarify how customer experience (CX) differs from customer journey mapping.
What’s the Difference between Customer Experience and Customer Journey Mapping?
In a previous article, we shared the value of customer journey mapping to gather insight into how prospects discover and interact with your brand. This helps to identify what is working and where improvements can be made.
Customer journey mapping (CJM) is the forerunner to enhancing the customer experience. Use the knowledge gained from seeing the business from the customer perspective to make every interaction positive, helpful and straightforward.
So, here are some points to guide the development of consistently positive customer experiences.
Are Sales Your Most Important Metric?
If your marketing strategy focuses on increasing sales, you are missing a trick. A sale is a one-off. However, providing a consistently positive customer experience, opens the opportunity to gain loyal customers. They will help to extend your reach and build your brand reputation through reviews and recommendations.
How to Exceed Expectations
With an understanding of customer priorities, offer more than the core product or service. This could include:
- Top tips, care instructions, recipes or other valuable information to packaging
- Recorded podcasts, how-to videos or webinars to share knowledge
- Including a free sample, a personalised note or discount voucher to customers’ orders
- Taster experiences/free consultancy that allows customers to try before they buy
When you are reviewing processes, consider whether any part of your offer or your process is not adding value. If so, remove it.
Free Up Time for Thoughtful Human Interaction
In every business, routine processes and procedures can be simplified and automated to increase efficiency. A seamless, efficient digital process has helped brands including Ocado, Currys and ASOS to deliver a positive online customer experience through the pandemic.
With technology handling the standard details, employees are freed up to handle complex transactions or work on building trusted relationships through timely communication.
Are Your Team Proud to Work for Your Company?
How your staff feel about your organisation impacts the customer experience. When employees feel valued, respected and supported, it is reflected in their behaviour and attitude. When they have job satisfaction, the chances of customer satisfaction are greatly increased.
Do you utilise employee skills, provide development opportunities and involve them in decisions relating to customer service strategies? A positive company culture that listens to staff, recognises achievements and empowers individuals will enhance the customer experience.
Be Open and Genuine in All Communication
Positive customer experiences come when your organisation can consistently satisfy expectations. It is therefore important to communicate your offer with clarity and honesty.
When a business focuses on sales over customers, false promises can be made. They offer an attractive price tag, but the bill comes with a host of added extras. Hassle-free returns are offered, but get-out clauses feature in the small print. They win the sale by promising deadlines that can’t be met. Yes, it’s a sale in the bag, but the damaging emotional response will drive customers straight to the competition.
When Things go Wrong – View Complaints as a Learning Experience
If there is a problem that means that, despite all efforts, an expectation is not going to be met, inform all affected customers as soon as possible. Apologise and explain what you are doing to address it. Keep them updated and consider what could be offered as compensation.
When handled well, the occasional mishap will be forgiven. After such an event, review the complaint handling process; could it be made easier for customers and staff? Learning from issues prevents frequent problems, an increase in complaints, loss of customers and a damaged brand reputation.
Loyalty – The End Goal
When customers and employees are satisfied, they stay. Their loyalty can save considerable costs in acquiring new customers, complaint handling, repairing damaged reputations and recruitment. They spread the word, marketing your business for free, or take pride in their work. As such, the feel-good factor makes good business sense.