Customer experience could be considered the foundation for all company success. If a customer feels valued and well-served, chances are they will return to you if they need your product or service. If not, they will likely look for someone else.
And since it can cost six to 10 times more to get a new customer than to keep an existing one, why wouldn’t a business focus intensely on making sure customers have an amazing experience?
Every company has a brand, and whether it puts time and resources into building it or not, it does exist. This brand and its essence are the beating heart of the business. To understand the customer experience, you must also understand all that the brand promises.
Brand is built on reputation, quality, products, people, feeling and the consistency of those when served up to the customer time after time. Yet, there are continually inconsistencies with these qualities in many businesses. Most inconsistencies aren’t known until a customer has an unfortunate experience and either goes quietly away or communicates how they felt unappreciated.
To start to improve consistency of the customer experience, a company can focus on six key areas:
New and veteran employees alike should be trained on new processes, products, company changes, etc., and helped to understand the business case behind each. Lack of consistency in service is often the silent killer of company growth. If one area of your business does not deliver consistent service, it is a reflection on the entire company, not just the individual who provided the bad service. Have you ever “experienced” Disney? How every employee seems to love their job and how that makes you enjoy the experience even more? Don’t underestimate the value training can bring to an organization and to a customer’s experience.
Change the lens
Changing the lens so that you see your business from the customer point of view can be transforming. Apply that lens to all the elements that go into a customer’s journey — from their first company contact to the point when they receive the bill, to a follow-up process to make sure that you delivered on their needs. What was their experience like at each step of the journey? Was service consistent, were there gaps where another step should be added? Did you ask them? Getting feedback from the customer is important to seeing the experience through their eyes. A customer can often point out little issues (or big ones) that can be changed, resulting in an improved bottom line and better overall brand and product alignment. Customers aren’t numbers, they are far more.
People are the foundation of any company’s culture. How they interact with customers, the marketplace and other employees is critical. Mismatches between employees and a company’s culture affect the client experience. You have heard the phrase “happy employees equal happy clients”? Well, there is extensive research proving it to be true.
Spending time with customers is important to understanding their needs. How well do you really know your customers? I promise there is more to them than just what you know today. When you spend time with the customer it also deepens and strengthens your knowledge of them. It is then important to go beyond just your relationship with the customer and share that knowledge with others in your organization. This shared knowledge can help build incredible team members who deliver on promises consistently because they share a common concern for the client’s happiness.
Service and product enhancements should be encouraged, recognized and rewarded. So few companies have a formal program to recognize improved performance or product enhancement. This gets people excited about what they do. I heard a NFL legend say “reward activity you want to see more of.” His words have never rung more true.
Empower team members
Give your employees flexibility to take actions that make a customer happy. Have them share their thoughts with you on how those actions impact the customer’s relationship with the company, and then recognize them for it. You never know when something simple, done at the right time, can make the greatest difference in the overall experience.
There are likely other categories to add to the list, but these powerful six are a good start. Remember, to change your customer’s experience you can start with one area, move the needle and impact the customer. Then celebrate and take another step. Becoming a company recognized for delivering an amazing customer experience is a journey, not a sprint.
Leisa Gill is director of client experience and leader of the Privately Held Business Segment at LBMC, a premiere Tennessee-based professional services firm. Contact Leisa at email@example.com or 615-309-2231.