What if we told you that you could achieve higher customer satisfaction rates, reduced customer churn (or client, whichever you prefer) and increase revenue?
Are you in?
These are the results you'll see if you focus on improving your customer experience; by that we mean improving each interaction that a prospect or customer has with you and your brand.
WHAT IS CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE (CX)?
Customer experience focuses on the relationship between a business and its customers. It is defined by all of the interactions and experiences your customers have with your business (or your personal brand), even if the interaction doesn't result in a sale. These experiences occur throughout the entire customer journey - from first contact as a prospect to a happy, loyal, repeat customer. While CX uses the term "customer," it really applies to the people who work with/buy from your company, whether you call them customers, clients, patients, representatives, consumers, etc.
Customer experience management (CXM) is the entire organization's strategic customer experience goals and strategies. Don't confuse this with CRM! CRM stands for customer relationship management and refers to platforms that keep track of customers, such as Salesforce.
WHY IS CX SO IMPORTANT
Happy customers = paying customers! People who consistently have positive experiences with you and your company are more likely to become repeat buyers and tell all their friends.
LET'S LOOK AT SOME STUDIES
Much like our last post about why physical mail has a greater impact on recipients than other forms of marketing and advertising, customer experience is a very well-research topic.
Study #1: Temkin Group published a study about the impact of customer experience on large companies (companies that earn $1 billion annually).
The conclusion: These companies can expect to earn an additional $700 million, on average, within 3 years of investing in customer experience. That's a 70% increase in revenue within just 36 months!
The bonus: Not only can companies expect to see an increase in revenue, they'll also reduce operational costs, according to Harvard Business Review. After all, unhappy customers are expensive - think about above average customer service hours, free or reduced-price products and services...
Study #2: American Express found that 86% of customers are willing to pay more for a better experience.
The conclusion: Customer have very high expectations today - they expect every interaction with you and your company to be clear, consistent, helpful, informative and on-brand. They're also willing to pay more to have their high expectations met (or exceeded!).
Study #3: Bain & Company asked organizations in their study to rate their customer experience. Then they asked customers to do the same. The numbers...do not match up.
The conclusion: 80% of the organizations surveyed believed they were successful in delivering a superior experience. Only 8% of customers said that they received a great customer experience.
The details: Customers today expect every interaction to be the best they have with ANY company, not just yours. According to a survey by SuperOffice, 1 in 3 customers will leave a brand they love after just ONE bad experience. The bigger problem? 91% of unhappy customers leave without complaining. Which leads us to...
MOST COMMON PAIN POINTS
The most common reasons that customers leave a company are:
Difficult or complicated purchasing process
Negative experiences with the customer service department
Their personal security was compromised ( there was a large data breach)
Waiting too long on hold
Customer feedback being ignored
JUST TO CLARIFY: WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE AND CUSTOMER SERVICE
Customer experience governs every interaction between a company and their customers, and the company should always be proactively working to improve customer interactions and experiences. Customer service, or customer support, is a specific department within the company that helps customers only when a problem as occurred or the customer was unable to find the answer to their question through self-service help options.
THE #1 WAY TO IMPROVE YOUR CX
The best customer experiences are achieved when you can create an emotional connection with your customers. Emotions shape our attitudes, color our experiences, and drive our decisions - including the decision to purchase. The most loyal customers are the ones who have formed an emotional attachment, and businesses that optimize for emotional connection outperform competitors by 85% in sales growth (Journal of Consumer Research). Plus, these customers like to spread the love! 71% of people recommend a product or service because they received a "great experience."
One of the best examples we found of a brand going the extra mile to create an emotional connection and optimize the customer experience comes from Zappos:
A Zappos customer was late returning a pair of shoes due to her mother passing away. When Zappos found out, they took care of the return shipping and had a courier pick up the shoes at no cost. Most companies would stop here, but Zappos didn't.
The next day, the customer received a bouquet of flowers with a personalized note attached from the Zappos Customer Success team who sent their condolences.
OTHER WAYS YOU CAN IMPROVE YOUR CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
At the company level
Embrace a "top-down" approach to customer experience. Create a company-wide set of statements (much like your company's mission statement or core values) that will guide the behavior of employees at all levels related to customer experience.
Map your entire customer journey. A customer journey map is a visual storyline of every interaction a customer has with a service, product, or brand as a whole. While there are 5 main stages - Awareness, Engagement, Conversion, Retention, and Advocacy - a customer can have many interactions at each stage. Understanding your customers' needs, and whether their needs are being met, at each interaction will help you evaluate each interaction to identify areas for improvement.
Capture customer feedback in real time. Technology has given us so many ways to reach customers today! Tools such as live chat and post-interaction survey are a great way to take a pulse of how your customers are feeling after an interaction.
Utilize EMPLOYEE feedback. Employees who interact with customers every day (such as customer service reps or sales associates) have a front row seat to understand how your customer are feeling. These employees are a great resource for ideas to reduce friction, improve relationships, and increase growth. Plus, it's proven that happy, empowered employees lead to happy customers!
Adopt an omnichannel mindset. Customers enjoy the ability to interact with brands through both online and offline channels, and they often switch channels several times during the customer journey. Therefore, your brand visuals, messaging, and level of customer service needs to be consistent and seamlessly connected. Omnichannel refers to marketing, e-commerce, and CX strategies that enable a customer to have the same experience with your brand whether they are online, in-store, on the phone, or anywhere else. The focus is on the overall quality of each interaction between the customer and you (or your company as a whole).
Provide self-service help options. 67% of customers prefer self-service options over speaking to a company rep over the phone, and 91% of customers would choose to use an online knowledge base if it were available and tailored to their needs. You can improve your customer experience AND reduce the demands on your customer service department by giving customers the tools they need to solve their issue themselves.
Improve your customer service. Of course, even with the best self-service and chat features available, sometimes an issue just needs an actual person to solve it. There are numerous studies which show that customers who get great service, buy more and stay loyal longer, because they feel confident in their decision to buy, knowing they'll get support when they need it.
At the individual level
Create an emotional connection with your customers. This doesn't have to be a corporate-level initiative. Every individual in the company can be thoughtful about how they treat customers.
Personalize customer interactions as much as possible. Use a CRM to keep track of your client details. For example, knowing their purchase history helps you to recommend the products and services that would be a good fit. Or, remembering that they mentioned upcoming vacation plans can give you a low-pressure reason to reach out and remind them you're there when they need something.
Follow up. This is one of the easiest, and most effective, ways to improve your customer experience! Follow ups can be done via mail, email, or even on social. Some key times to follow up are after an introduction, following a meeting or event, a customer birthday or other special occasion, after a trial period or demo, following a purchase, and to say thanks for a referral.
Embrace an omnichannel mindset. If you skimmed past the company-level tips, omnichannel refers to marketing, e-commerce, and CX strategies that enable a customer to have the same experience with your brand whether they are online, in-store, on the phone, or anywhere else. The focus is on the overall quality of each interaction between the customer and you. You can adopt this mindset at an individual level by providing the same service regardless of where you are interacting with your customers. For example, if you typically respond to emails within a few hours, do the same on social media or when returning a phone call. Also, use the same tone of voice, professionalism, and level of industry-specific jargon, across all channels and in person. This means you should be just as professional on LinkedIn as you would be at a corporate event or in a meeting.
Provide self-service help. Here's another one you may have skimmed past since it seems like a company-level strategy. However, even if you're not the person responsible for updating the FAQs on the website or implementing self-service tools, you can still embrace this strategy. Remember, 91% of customers would choose to use an online knowledge base if it were available and tailored to their needs. So, how can you take advantage of this at a more personal level? By distributing information through the channels you do have access to. For example, post a video of yourself answering a recent FAQ, share a new infographic, or link to an article with quality content that addresses some of your clients' concerns or problems.
NOW, LET’S SUMMARIZE THE FACTS
According to studies by American Express and Temkin Group, 86% of customers are willing to pay more for a better experience with a company, and companies who invest in customer experience can expect to increase their revenue by up to 70% within just 3 years!
Customers expect every interaction to be the best they have with ANY company - not just yours.
The top 2 most effective and easiest ways to improve your customer experience are follow up and build emotional connections.
Don't sacrifice you customer SERVICE to focus on customer EXPERIENCE. Give your customers the ability to buy confidently, knowing they'll get support when they need it.
WANT TO CHAT MORE ABOUT IMPROVING YOUR CX?
Give us a call at (860) 676-1121, or click the gray "contact us" button in the bottom right corner!