Customer experience has become the buzzword of all buzzwords. Every business is reliant on the customer, which makes strategy surrounding them so crucial. The customer will never be a “trend.” They’re a constant in any business model which means that the customer experience will always be relevant.
Relevancy isn’t the only reason why you need to focus on customer experience, though. Blame technology, blame the agility of business…blame whatever you would like — but the constantly shifting landscape of customer expectations means that you need to stay on your toes. It’s not enough to just know what customer experience is…you need to have a mobile strategy to go around it.
The Basics: What Exactly Is Customer Experience
If you were to look under the hood of customer experience, you may think it looks fairly easy. The better the interaction with your customer the better the experience…right?
Technically you would be right. However, in order to truly dissect the entirety of customer experience, you need to look a bit harder. Every single interaction a customer has with your business is a part of the experience. There are parts that are obvious and others that you may not even realize. To create a robust strategy, you need to pay attention to the details.
OK, let’s walk through the different steps.
The Difference Between Experience and Service
While these two are different they are not mutually exclusive. They play off one another and it’s important to know the differences so that you can implement one into the other — and vice versa.
Customer service is your first point-of-contact your customers have with your employees or automated service. Whether it be on the phone, in person or via chat service, your customer service entails how you are working to better the interaction.
Customer experience is all of the touchpoints as a whole. Actually, it’s more than this. It’s a journey, it’s a pathway you are creating for your customers to get them from point A — to point $.
Before you even get into the nitty gritty of interacting with your customer you need to be mindful of how they found your business. It may not seem like it, but exactly how a customer came to find your business, product or service is part of the experience.
The first interaction a potential customer has with your marketing or advertising efforts tells a story. It illustrates how they operate and can even predict their future purchase behavior. Your strategy starts here, understanding the baby steps a potential customer takes toward becoming an actual customer — and eventually a repeat buyer.
Here’s where you will relay the quality and value of your product or service. But when should you do it? Well, this is based on your own business. You want to catch them at the right time. The more you come to understand where your customers are at — the better the chances that you’ll catch them at this stage. This is also where you want to demonstrate your expertise and value by providing resources that they want or need. If you notice they are looking through specific articles or content of yours, now is the time to hit them with similar topics or solutions you’ve created. Continue to provide useful resources that can push them toward your ultimate goal.
So, what type of content can you provide?
- Case studies
- YouTube playlists
- Post-click landing pages
Regardless of what type of content you provide, you need to make sure it provides value at a valuable time.
The purchase process should arguably be the smoothest step. There’s debate around this, but if one thing is for certain, your purchase stage should be seamless. Once a customer decides to actually buy, you don’t want any hiccups or roadblocks. It should be a breeze to spend money. Depending on where this stage lives, your strategy will look slightly different.
If the majority of your purchases occur in person, then it comes down to training. If most of your purchases are done online, it’s about identifying any pain-points a customer has with this stage and eliminating them. It’s also a good idea to take a deeper dive into shopping cart abandonment to see why this stage might be problematic for your business.
More often than not, this stage is the only one companies focus on. It’s kind of the bare minimum of customer experience. It is an important step, but it shouldn’t be the only one you focus on.
Here’s where the money is. Creating so much value with your customer experience, products, and service is how you will create loyal advocates of your brand. Take a second to think about it. Are your customers on your team? Are they willing to promote your brand simply because they had a great experience? If not, then you are missing this stage.
Don’t worry, it’s definitely the most challenging one on the list. But once you have accomplished success with the other steps you will begin to have customers doing the awareness stage for you.
Review sites are your friend here. Usually, they are nightmares, but positive reviews really do impact purchase behavior. Social media is also a great place for advocacy. Promotion from influencers or just everyday users will spread awareness and trust in your brand. But you have to be mindful of what people are saying about your brand on social media — as negative conversations about your company can do some serious damage.
For instance, if you’re implementing an SMS strategy and have legally obtained a potential customer’s telephone number through a subscription or past purchase — you have the opportunity to send confirmation or future promotional information directly to their phone. This is a great way to reach out and show your commitment to the customer through a medium they are used to.
If you want loyal customers you have to put forth the effort. Satisfied customers come back. This seems like common knowledge but not enough companies understand this. The big players do though, and 74% of senior executives say that customer experience makes the difference.
How To Make A Customer Experience Strategy
If you want to create a customer experience strategy, it takes a lot of introspection. You have to leave your ego at the door here, because you may have to disassemble some processes you’re holding onto.
What’s Your Vision? Who is your business? What are your values?
Ask yourself these questions and it will act as a springboard for your entire strategy. You have to remain true to yourself and be honest about who you are or what you want to be.
These values and objectives will guide your customer experience and create a pathway that makes sense. There are a ton of companies out there that don’t really understand their vision — or they state their vision, and don’t back it up.
There are certainly some companies that do it almost perfectly. Patagonia is one of those companies. They have completely immersed themselves in the vision of sustainability and environmental issues — and it makes sense. Their branding, their messaging, their philanthropic efforts all work in harmony with one another.
Are You Embracing Your Customers?
It’s called a customer experience for a reason. It revolves around your customers. Sure, you may know the ins and outs of your company — but it’s often difficult to see the point of view of the customer when you’re so involved in the behind the scenes work.
You have to either put yourself in the shoes of your customers or you need to get feedback. There’s no other way around it. It’s all about empathy. How can you truly understand a pain-point a customer has without going through it yourself? You want to create an experience — which means you want to elicit an emotion from your customers. Obviously, you want this emotion to be positive, and you want to foster mutuality and understanding.
Customer Feedback and Action
Speaking of feedback — how will you know a customer’s experience if you don’t ask? Customers are always going to complain, and we understand this can be frustrating. But every problem is an opportunity for a solution.
Take these opportunities seriously and use them as a platform for providing exceptional value. Even if you make a blunder you can always make up for it with exceptional service.