In the crowded retail environment, it becomes more and more difficult to stand out and get an edge over the competition. One important way is through providing superior customer service. But consistently providing a great customer experience is easier said than done.
When it comes to providing customer service, all of us would like to delight our customers while leaving the competition in the dust. But achieving that goal takes hard work and strategic planning.
First you need to determine what exactly it is that your customer wants and needs—and what you can do to meet their needs. Then you have to implement the right technology and processes to make it a reality.
In this article, we will firstly look at ways that the customer experience can be measured and analysed. Then we will look at ways that you can use OMS technology to leverage this data to improve your customer experience.
How do you know if any action you're taking to improve your customer experience is actually yielding effective results? How do you measure customer experience in a meaningful and scientific way?
This is harder than it may seem at first, mostly because the experience that customers have with your business exists on a spectrum. In other words, there are different factors that impact a customer's experience with a company which makes it difficult to measure and assess.
You have to look at all the individual parts of the customer experience and try to assemble them into a meaningful whole to get a clear picture. So you have to look at multiple data points. In fact, the more data you can gather the better.
Here are some of the ways that you can put a magnifying glass to your customer's experience—and determine what would in the end measure up to the ideal result:
Now that you have reams of data about your customer's experience with your company, how do you turn that data into actionable information?
Many companies don't know how to read their customer experience data. Often the mistake they make is to only look at individual data points and make decisions based on single variables.
But customer experience is a complex, interconnected affair. It isn't really possible to improve your customer experience as a whole by simply striving to improve on individual metrics.
You have to consider how each part of your customer experience strategy affects all the others. When one of your processes or systems is ineffective, it can bring your entire customer experience down.
You have to look at your customer experience apparatus as a complex machine with interconnected parts. Only when you look at it from a holistic point of view, will you actually be able to provide exceptional service.
When analysing your customer experience data, you have to keep the following areas of customer interaction in mind:
The marketing team is often responsible for making the first impression on potential customers. This is obviously the goal of marketing campaigns: they want to attract the attention of the public through advertisements, targeted campaigns, and through word-of-mouth.
Once they have a potential customer's attention, the marketing team will continue to communicate to them via brand presence, social media and email, as well as public communications.
During this process, good marketers continually assess the results of their campaigns and adjust them accordingly. The needs of the buying public are never static and trends can shift very quickly.
The goal here is for the marketing team to reach each customer on a personal level. When customers feel a sense of connection to your brand through each marketing touchpoint, it engenders a sense of loyalty—which translates into repeat business and great word-of-mouth.
The sales team is intimately involved in the experience that customers have with your company. In fact, they set the tone for the entire customer relationship.
When you conclude a sale, you have to be laser-focused on meeting customer's needs. Which means that the sales team has to be especially attentive to the needs and expectations of customers.
At the same time, this intensive interaction with your customer base should yield a wealth of consumer data and insights that will point the way to improving your service going forward.
During the sales process, you have to inquire from customers which products and features they want, what follow-up interactions they would find beneficial, and what type of support they require. Which means that the information gathered during the sales process will have a direct impact on other departments in the company.
When all of your business units work together effectively, sales will also be able to do their job more effectively. The goal is not only to get initial sales, but turn first-time customers into repeat buys and prevent customers from flocking to the competition.
Many companies don't realise what effect the goods and services they offer have on a customer's experience with you. In recent surveys it has been shown that most customers would be willing to pay a premium for a product if it came with superior service. A good example here would be fancy dining versus more casual fare.
The quality of a product, its reliability, price, how easy it is to use, as well as the lifecycle of a product creates a strong impression with customers and reflects on your entire business.
If a customer enjoys your product and thinks it's good value for money, their perception of the customer service they received will be much higher. In fact, their view of your entire company will be better.
So don't overlook the product when you're looking for ways to improve your customer experience.
If you want to grow as a business, you need to get feedback from your customers where you can improve. In fact, you won't really be able to evolve in any significant way as a company without it.
This includes getting feedback from customers once a sale has been concluded. Usually it is the customer service department that handles after-sale customer interactions.
When a customer has a query with regards to their order or the product they received, they have to contact your customer service. At this point it's crucial that you gather enough data from the customer that will enable you to assess their customer experience and use that information for future improvement.
Data points that need to be gathered would include the following: what the customer's experience is with the product, the ways that the customer uses the product and interacts with it, and details about any problems the customer experienced with the product or the order fulfilment process.
Finally, it's important to ascertain whether the customer feels like their expectations were met. Get specific details on how their expectations were met, or how your company failed to meet their needs.
From these interactions you will also get a clear picture of your customer base. These surveys will also show trends in how your customer base might evolve and their expectations might change over time. All of this information can be put to effective use to improve your customer experience down the line.
There are several ways that you can leverage OMS technology to take your customer experience to the next level and achieve a competitive edge over the competition:
One of the main benefits of an OMS is its ability to optimise and streamline your order fulfilment process. This is because the technology is able to automate several of the manual (and error-prone) tasks involved with fulfilling orders.
For example, the technology is able to send out order confirmations automatically to customers when payment has been processed.
The program can then send shipping orders to the appropriate warehouse or fulfilment centre, generate accurate shipping labels for all packaging, and then update inventory levels once the correct products have been picked and packed at the fulfilment centre.
The result is that fulfilment errors are minimised. Orders go out the door quicker and more accurately, which is crucial towards achieving high customer satisfaction numbers.
When a customer places an order they want to know the status of their order, when it will ship out to them, and when the package will arrive at their doorstop.
The OMS will be able to send out automated progress reports to the customer. The customer will also be able to login to your website and get up-to-date information as to the status of their order.
This helps the customers to plan for the arrival of their package. It will also manage their expectations with regards to the fulfilment of their order so that they don't have to log unnecessary and time-consuming queries with your customer service department.
The end result is that customers will feel more confident in your ability to complete their order in a reasonable time—which leads to higher customer satisfaction.
The more people are involved in fulfilling orders, the more opportunities there are for slip-ups and human error. This will lead to order delays or even cancellations—hardly ways to keep your customers happy.
This is where OMS automatic order processing comes in. The more tasks you take out of the hands of your staff members, the less chance you have of major error.
For example, the OMS will be able to verify that you have enough inventory to actually process the order before the order is even finalised on your website. The program will be able to flag items that are out of stock and prevent customers from placing orders for products that are unavailable.
Which means that you will have a much higher success rate in actually getting orders out the door—a recipe for satisfied customers.
As stated earlier, an OMS can automate your fulfilment process to such a degree that you will always know exactly what's going on with a particular order.
This information can then be made available to the customer who placed the order—giving them peace of mind and confidence in your organisation.
The customer would be able to login to your webstore and get information directly fed to them from the OMS with regards to the status of their orders, the shipping routes that are being used, and other updates.
Customers have grown used to expecting a personalised experience when they do business with an online company. An OMS can help in this process because it keeps track of the shopping and browsing history of each customer.
The program is therefore able to make product recommendations to the customer that are tailored to their past interactions with your company. For example, if they've purchased a specific item, the webstore would be able to recommend similar products or products that are complementary to what they already bought.
You will also be able to offer targeted promotions for items that are frequently bought together. The result is that the customer feels understood and valued—which is a surefire way to boost customer satisfaction and loyalty.
To improve your customer experience, you must firstly be able to measure the quality of the interactions customers have with your company. Then you have to analyse the raw data in such a way that you can turn it into actionable steps that will improve your customer interactions.
You will then be able to leverage this information in an order management system (OMS). This technology will empower you to streamline the entire order fulfilment process, eliminate errors, while being able to give your customers real-time, accurate information about the status of their orders—which translates into superior customer service.
The system can also be used to boost customer communication and provide them with a personal experience when they do business with your company.
When using an OMS, customers will get better service and feel more satisfied with their purchases. The result is that they will recommend your services to their friends and family and turn to your store for their next purchase decision.