In today’s world there are so many different “buzz words” and “hot topics” for our industry. It can be difficult to know what is legitimate to incorporate into your strategy and what is just fodder for discussion. Often it seems that concepts just get refreshed and renamed every few years to keep the conversations going. Yet this is not the case with Customer Experience.
At first glance it can seem as though customer experience is just a different way of talking about customer service, but this is far from the case.
While customer service should always be a pillar of any service-oriented business strategy, customer experience goes far beyond those customer interactions and, while it includes customer service, it encompasses the entirety of the relationship and when done right, can create unmatched customer loyalty and goodwill.
If you haven’t reviewed your customer experience strategy recently, we’ve compiled a list of things that should be considered as you look to refresh your plan.
Define what customer experience means for your organization
It can seem obvious dependent upon your level within the organization to know what your company’s definition of customer experience is, but the fact is, often the interpretations vary in most organizations if it’s left to individual interpretation. Work to determine what you want your customer’s experience to be. Is it to keep customers happy or go above and beyond? What are the KPIs for success? Once you have a vision documented, be sure that your share it throughout the organization so that the entire company knows and understands that vision. It’s the best way to work towards the common goal.
Offer consistency across touchpoints
Communication between your company and your customers should match regardless of touchpoint that brings the two together. The tone of the messages as well as the answers to questions should match whether the contact was made via phone, website messenger or email contact form. Consistency is key to ensuring a good customer experience with your brand.
Alongside this consistency should be consistency in how you handle issues that arise. No company is perfect and you cannot control everything that might occur but you can control your response to these issues. Own issues when they happen and keep customers up to date on resolutions as you are working on them. Customers can demonstrate a good amount of patience and goodwill when they are offered an apology and transparency about the process for rectifying their issues.
Personalize their experiences as much as possible
This brings us to the next point, the personalization of your customer’s experience. No matter how they are interacting with your brand, they want to feel understood. If they have contacted you previously about an issue or an offer, they don’t want to have to re-explain themselves.
There are systems available, like VHT Navigator, that can aid your customer service team in tracking and managing customer relationships even if they first contact you via email and then later via phone. Cross-platform customer tracking can be an invaluable resource to a team who wants to be most efficient and effective in their responses to your customers.
In addition, we recommend you let your team be personal too. When possible, your emails, letters or other correspondence should come from individuals, not a generic moniker.
Identify common themes with customers’ needs
Use the resources available to you to track interactions with customers and look for common threads among the information recorded. When it’s possible, find solutions to these issues and empower your team to problem solve for the customers. Giving the representatives the autonomy to rectify issues as they find them can improve the overall experience customers have. Quite simply, it’s nice to deal with someone who can solve your problem on the first try, without the need to pass you from department to department in search of an answer.
Technology is the ally of customer experience
We’ve come a long way from the call centers of old. Banks of customer service representatives answering customer calls with a little knowledge of the solutions available, wayfinding through a binder to find the right responses to customer questions. With the technology available today, there are many systems available to aid your customer service team in their quest to keep customers satisfied. Using this technology can help them to understand how is information has been delivered to customers, how is inventory is tracked and managed and how can it all be integrated to offer customers the most accurate information. Your customer’s experiences are aided by technology that can anticipate and react to their needs, with the help of your skilled customer service team.
Respecting your customers is key to retaining the ones you have and gaining the ones you don’t. This can be achieved in a number of ways and the common thread among all of these tactics needs to be your customer experience.
Understanding the strategy that links all of your customers interactions with your company can aid you and your team in the mission to serve those customers well and keep them coming back to you for the products and services you offer. While much of this may seem like common sense that would be vastly understood across your organization, it’s important to formalize your strategy and evangelize it with your team.
Customers can be difficult to obtain, but maintaining them is where the real challenge lies. Ensuring your offering the best possible experience from start to finish can work to nurture and grow these relationships over time and solidify your place as a leader in your industry.