Decades ago, and as recent as a few years ago, businesses focused their energy on ensuring their employees gave great customer service. Greet the customer within 5 seconds of walking in our front door. Are we ensuring that we act on the five (fill in the blank) on each customer interaction? These were, and still are to some extent, commonplace practices within most businesses. Focusing on customer service, instilling in each employee the importance of meeting and exceeding the customer’s expectations on each visit, be it as a visitor in a store, a phone call in, or a stop at our website.
Customer Experience Takes the Place of Customer Service
This is not necessarily the way of the future, as organisations now are seeing value in funnelling their energy towards the customer experience. The difference between “service and experience” is simple, customer experience is the body of the relationship between the consumer and business over time. In its entirety. Organisations now are interested in building and improving upon the customer experience rather than customer service.
So, just how can my small business utilise the newer model of customer experience bearing in mind all of our channels?
Tips to the Creation of a Consistent Customer Experience Across All Channels
Build the Relationship
The best in sales know one fact – it is all about relationships. The cultivation of the relationship between the consumer and the employee, the manager, the brand, are vital to a customer experience. This is durable over the long term.
Look to understand your customers rather than forcing them to understand you. Get to know them. Do your customers feel welcome? Appreciated? With a company-wide mindset such as this each employee can sell the brand without consciously doing it, all through building the relationship with the customer.
Documented Customer Experience Objectives
As you look around your office, the hallways of your business, do you see that dusty, framed mission statement from years ago? Out with the old and in with the new.
Document your goals prior to the implementation of a “customer experience” way of life. This is not going away anytime soon, the fundamentals have been tried and true for as long as men and women have exchanged money for goods and services. Encourage each employee to sit down and frankly discuss these goals. Encourage each of them to have an open-mind. Equally as important is upholding them to certain standards.
Are these goals action oriented? Can they be measured? Is there sufficient training measures in place to properly execute?
Unified Delivery Across All Channels
A consistent and firm message must be delivered on your company’s customer experience across all channels. While the way it is presented will be slightly different on the company blog in comparison to the front page of the website, it has to be consistent and at the forefront.
Is your message tailored to your target market? Does it work in parallel with your brand promise? These are two questions that should be asked before launch. Words mean little as people typically only believe a little of what they read and hear. What matters most is what they see and experience over time, and that is the foundation of customer experience.
Anyone can “WOW” a customer on one visit. It is the businesses who can develop long lasting, durable relationships over a lifetime that succeed.
Consistency in the Delivered Message
Your average customer has a smartphone, either a laptop or desktop (or both) and a tablet or iPad. They will see your marketing campaigns on social media, emails, and through visits to your site. Ensure the consistency across all channels.
A facebook promotion, in layout, will differ than an email. Careful planning and consideration will ensure the information is consistent. Do the various platform advertisements appear linked? If you answer yes, congratulations, you are well on your way.
Ever send an inquiry about a particular product or service and immediately after hitting send receive the automated reply? This is not a customer experience building exercise. It is the opposite.
Customers are willing to wait to receive a personalised response, it shows you care. Those traits that are parents taught us when we were young should be implemented, it shows respect.
Are your hours of operation clearly posted? Is there a generic email address for customer complaints, questions, and concerns? Or have you granted full access to your customer base with various staff members information listed and expected reply times?
Own your mistakes. Nothing will turn off a consumer more than a hem-hauling, an excuse ridden employee trying to get out of a refund or exchange. One of the most powerful statements a human can make is “I was wrong”. This will go a long way towards building a customer experience.