Not all costs are financial. When a customer buys from you, whether a product or a service, the transactional costs they carry extend far beyond the price. Your buyers also incur non-financial costs; notably the time and effort it takes to find what they are looking for, whether it’s the opening hours on your website or to make a purchase…
What is the true cost to your customer in doing business with your company?
How hard are you making it for your customers to do business with you? Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and consider the effort that you need to make when querying or buying something. Isn’t it great when the process goes smoothly – when we easily find what we need, and the activity is quick and intuitive! Look at any five-star review and you’ll likely see words such as convenient, fast or responsive. This tells us that when it comes to value, customer experience is as important as the product and price.
UKCSI Insight, published in July 2022 revealed that 35% of customers are willing to pay more if guaranteed excellent service, with only 12% willing to sacrifice quality service for the lowest price.
We should all be striving to give customers both a great service and a great experience. However, the norm is quite different; we’ve all encountered poor and frustrating customer service. The website links that don’t work, the excessively long form to complete, and the long wait when you are put on hold, again. It can really feel as though the company doesn’t want your business.
These experiences lead to negative brand associations. As a result, even if the product or service is fine, there’s an increased chance of customers switching to an alternative supplier.
Customer Experience Killers
Failure to understand the full transactional costs is a customer experience killer. To survive and thrive, companies must understand that everyone’s time is precious, and nobody wants to waste it and/or spend it on overly complex processes.
All too often, businesses make changes that aid workplace efficiency, streamlining internal processes and lowering costs, without considering the external impact. As an example, auto-response emails and chatbots can greatly reduce admin, but rarely address the problem and sometimes customers just want to talk to someone. Ideally without listening to muzak for half an hour whilst being intermittently told ‘please hold, your call is important to us’, being cut-off mid-flow, or worse!
3 Steps to Offering Greater Value and Encouraging Customer Loyalty
The key to offering value is to understand the true cost to your customers. So, when was the last time you saw your business from their perspective. We share three simple ways to get insight into their experience of doing business with you.
- Review your website
Identify some of the common processes that you know customers undertake on your website (part of the customer journey – see below) and try them out on both desktop and mobile devices.
- How straightforward is it to find the relevant product/service – is the page menu clear and can you use search filters?
- Is the information well presented, readable with quality images?
- Are links easy to identify and do they work?
- Is there a call to action, encouraging you to book, add to basket or enquire? Follow the call to action and check if the process is quick and simple.
- If you open a new page, is it easy to get back to where you came from without having to scroll back through reams of information?
- Is contact information provided on each page for customers who wish to call or email? What is the process from when they ‘get in touch’?
- Consider what choices your customers have
If customers find it convenient to use your app, self-service till or online booking system, great! If they follow your updates on social media or via text alerts, it’s helpful. However, what if they don’t? To avoid excluding a significant number of loyal customers and new leads, provide multichannel options. Make it possible for them to communicate or undertake actions by their preferred means.
Creating customer personas is particularly useful to map out the customer journey and identify any pitfalls or shortfalls in your process.
- Explore how easy is it to resolve a problem
Now consider the process if the product or service received does not match a customer’s expectations. Is your returns process clearly communicated? Is customer service contact information readily available and if they make contact, what are the response times? Is the issue resolved quickly and fairly and consider how they might feel at the end of the exchange process.
Going through these three simple steps will help you to identify the barriers which may drive customers to look elsewhere. Make the necessary changes to streamline the process and explore other ways to make their experience great.
Streamline the Customer Journey
In a world where convenience is as important as price, we need to be acutely aware of the customer journey. What is their experience of doing business with us and how can we keep it as quick and easy as possible? You might like to read a previous blog entitled: Customer Journey Mapping – your brand through their eyes.
As marketing specialists, we advise that the customer journey is reviewed and improved before launching advertising and promotional campaigns. Any barriers that prevent a seamless process will reduce the return on investment and could damage your brand reputation.
In the current economic climate, cutting prices may not be an option, however, transactional costs can be lowered. By being accessible, responsive, and efficient, we add value and provide a positive customer experience that encourages loyalty. This is how to remain not only competitive in 2023, but to ensure your business thrives into 2024.
Get in touch for advice and support with customer journey mapping to improve your customer’s experience.
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