What has been your experience with customer service lately? I'm sure there would have been a couple of high points—but all of us have to deal with infuriating service on a regular basis.
It's not an easy task for a company to provide quality service, to all their customers, on a consistent basis across all their sales channels. This is an important goal for a company to achieve, since consistent customer experience tends to build a strong, loyal customer base.
If a customer has a good experience in one of your stores, or even if they interact with you online, it will set you apart from the competition. In fact, quality customer experience has become something of a benchmark in the crowded online retail space.
In surveys conducted last year, most business businesses reported that one of their goals for 2023 was to improve their customer experience. This is a high priority among companies across markets and economic sectors.
What compounds the problem is that there are companies that are achieving high customer satisfaction numbers. This puts pressure on all other companies to perform because customers are starting to expect superior service. They want to become loyal to a brand and expect every interaction with that brand to be something special.
How do you live up to customer expectations and compete in a global marketplace of customer experience experts that continually hit the ball out of the park?
In this article, we will discuss the various steps you can take to take your customer experience to the next level. The goal is to be consistent across all your sales channels and make every customer interaction seamless. This article will show you how.
A seamless customer experience is that you take care to give your customers superior service every time that they have contact with any part of your brand.
Which means that every touchpoint with a customer is important. All interactions with customers have to take priority—even if that particular interaction doesn't lead to a sale.
The fact is that customers go on a relationship journey with a brand. In the early stages they get to know who you are and what your company does. Only in the later stages does those early flirtations actually lead to money exchanging hands. But the sale would probably never have gone through if all those early touchpoints were negative for the customer.
You have to take care to make every interaction with a customer a positive one—whether they're simply calling customer service, coming into contact with your advertising material, or having to settle an account. Every encounter will either enhance their relationship with your brand or diminish it. Each one will either build the relationship or inflict damage on the relationship.
But even more than that, customers don't look at individual experiences when judging a company. They look at all these interactions as whole when they form an opinion of a brand. This is why you have to provide a seamless customer experience. Regardless of which one of your brands or channels the customer comes into contact with, the experience has to be equally good.
For example, when they contact customer support, your company representative should be made aware of their previous interaction with someone in-store or online. Which means they don't have to explain their predicament over again. You know who they are and you're ready to help.
The reality is that customers don't have to shop with your brand. They can easily take their business elsewhere.
Recent surveys have shown that almost two-thirds of customers would seriously consider switching to a rival brand after only a single bad customer service experience. After two bad experiences more than 70% would definitely drop your brand for another company.
Which means that a seamless customer experience is a measurable competitive advantage in today's picky marketplace.
It's really impossible to provide a seamless experience to your customers if you're unaware of the different stages of the customer relationship—the so-called "customer's journey".
If you want to increase sales, you have to maximise the impact of every interaction you have with your customers. You have to actively engage them in every stage of the relationship lifecycle. This is also the key towards achieving a seamless customer experience.
What are the different stages that a prospective customer goes through before buying something from you? If you understand this customer lifecycle, it will also help you to build customer loyalty and ensure retention of their business.
A customer relationship goes through six stages:
You might consider drawing up a map describing the customer's journey as they go through these six stages in their relationship with your company. Take the map from the first contact the customer has with your brand all the way to their post-purchase experience.
As you go through this map, try to identify those interactions that could prove frustrating to your customers and cause them to withdraw from the relationship. You want to keep potential areas of customer dissatisfaction to a minimum and eliminate as many pain points as possible.
This map will allow you to take charge of your customer lifecycle. You want your customer's needs to be met at every step along the map. The goal is to create an experience that is totally customer-centric—something that we will discuss later on in this article.
When you take charge of your customer experience in this way, you will reap the following benefits:
Customers have become used to interacting with a company through multiple channels. This makes it all the more difficult to provide a seamless customer experience.
Already in 2017, research done by Forrester showed that almost all the customers they surveyed have already interacted with a single company through three or more channels. Almost two thirds of them have done so with the use of more than a single device.
It was also shown that customers aren't satisfied with the level of consistency they experience when using different channels. About two-thirds say that they were frustrated with a company that provided inconsistent information and interactions across channels.
Which means that you have to consider all your sales channels when building a customer-centric experience.
Almost all customers surveyed say they were willing to pay for better customer interactions, while only 1% said that they were always happy with the service they received from companies.
Which means that providing a seamless, exceptional customer experience is a fantastic opportunity to make your brand stand out in the market.
The key is to be consistent in the type of service you provide across all sales channels. No matter how a customer interacts with your brand, they have to have a consistent, exemplary experience. Whether they contact you by phone, by email, over the web, or in a brick-and-mortar store, they should get the same level of service.
The modern customer is spoiled for choice. Branding or a great deal isn't enough anymore to hold their interest. If you want to have a competitive edge you have to work out the kinks in your customer service.
Another way to provide seamless customer service is to give each customer a tailor-made, personalised experience. This goes to the basic need of every human being to feel worthy of personal attention. They want to feel valued.
How can a company service hundreds or thousands of customers a month achieve this aim? Once again, technology comes to the rescue.
When all customer interactions run through the same technology platform, it's possible to build a profile of each customer based on this record. This can be leveraged to push product recommendations to customers that are based on their previous interests and shopping habits. You could also send them promotional offers that are tailored to their profile.
Here are a couple ways that you can make your customers feel appreciated through personalised interactions:
When a buyer contacts your customer support service, it helps if the computer can give the agent context about the buyer. This could include their shopping habits and preferences, or other buyer insights such as personality information.
Equipped with this information, your agents will be able to give each customer individual attention based on their needs—which should solve their problems better and quicker.
As part of this effort to provide personalised service, you might have to conduct some market research on your different support programs to make sure that you get the best results.
Another way to improve your customer experience is to provide efficient communication. When a customer makes an inquiry by email or phone, they expect quick response times. You must make a point of answering each query promptly and accurately.
Another way to improve communication is to provide online self-service tools for your customers. Customer service automation will be able to reduce wait times for your customer requests and boost your overall customer experience.
The only way to improve your customer experience is to keep working at it on a continuous basis. Which means you have to gather customer feedback on a regular basis and use that information to improve your service.
Remember that your customer's journey doesn't end the moment you make a sale. You want to turn each one-time buyer into repeat customers. You have to engage with your customers on a continuous basis.
When you reach out to customers after the sale is concluded, it will make them feel like you care about their experience.It shows that you are willing to help them get the most out of their purchase. Since you're watching out for them, they’ll keep you in mind when next they want to buy a similar or related product.
You can then use the feedback gleaned from these interactions to continually update your processes and tools to ensure you're providing the best possible customer experience.
"Customer-centred culture" sounds like one of those buzzwords that are so common in the business world these days. But it’s more than a catchphrase. Customers know when you go out of your way to make them happy—when you have their best interests at heart.
Placing the customer first makes solid business sense. According to research conducted by Deloitte and Touche, companies that actively seek to put their customer first are 60% more profitable than companies that don't.
The key to putting the customer first is to understand their behaviour and track their interests. Which means you will have to speak to them directly and gather data on every interaction with them as you run your business.
With proper analysis, this data can be translated into actionable opportunities to offer better service and improve the value your customers get from your products. The result is a level of customer service that sets you apart in the market and ensures your continued success.
In business, reputation is everything. You will never be successful if you're unable to attract new customers—and then keep the ones you already have. If you consistently give customers a band experience, they will run to the competition.
Standing out from the competition is tough—especially in today's fast-paced, always-online, social-media driven market. A good line-up of products and competitive pricing is no longer enough. You need to provide a level of customer service that puts you ahead of the rest of the market.
One way to improve your customer service is to provide an experience that is both consistent and seamless. This will help you to gain new customers and retain the ones you've already engaged in the past.
You want to instil a sense of loyalty in your customers towards your brand. When they love every interaction they have with your company, they will always come back for more. In fact, more than 80% of customers say that they will be more likely to buy something else from a company if the customer service they received was positive.
When you improve your customer experience, you can look forward to the following benefits to your company:
By understanding your customer's journey, ensuring consistency across all channels, personalising interactions, prioritising efficient communication, and continuously improving, you can provide a seamless customer experience that sets you apart from the competition.
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