There are many methods for improving the customer experience, some complex and costly, others relatively simple...
and inexpensive. But how do you know what's right for your organization, and where should you start?
1. Get employee buy-in
According to expert Michael Lowenstein, employees are the key to optimizing the customer experience. First, organizations need to make sure they have hired loyal employees who are committed to the company and fully understand the company's mission. Employee loyalty and satisfaction play a big role in improving the customer experience -- an unhappy employee usually won't provide the type of customer experience the company is after.
For organizations looking to get employee buy-in for their customer experience initiatives, expert Lior Arussy recommends building a business case that explains why the initiative is important from a customer's point of view.
2. Run an open, transparent business
Gartner suggests businesses be as open and transparent as possible in their dealings with customers and employees alike. Openness in business and transparency builds the trust of customers, and most experts agree that customer trust has a significant impact on the customer experience. The more open-minded, inclusive and transparent a company can be the better.
3. Deliver consistent customer experiences
Gartner also suggests making sure the customer experience is consistent across the entire organization. Every area of the company that the customer interacts with should have the same, updated customer information so the customer doesn't need to give their information to the company more than once. CRM software can help with this.
4. Train customer-facing employees
According to Arussy, customer-facing employees should be given customer experience training from day one. This training differs from traditional call-center training in that it tends to be more customized to reflect the company's brand, desired customer experience and relationships with customers. Some things to cover in training include:
- The principles of customer experience
- The concept of delivering memories and not just transactions
- The basics of customer segmentations
5. Give customers a personalized experience
Experts agree that personalization is key to any good customer experience. According to Arussy, the customer database is the backbone of a businesses' relationship with the customer, and the information stored inside should be shared with every member of the organization. This will ensure that, regardless of who they call, the customer will receive a consistent, personalized customer experience. Since personalization can be complex and expensive, Gartner recommends companies evaluate personalization based not only on sales benefits but also on the long-term value of improving the customer experience.
6. Develop a self-service experience
Self-service resources help provide support information for customers that they can find themselves. Typically, those include FAQ sheets or pages where answers to commonly asked questions are posted. This allows the users to have immediate and correct responses to simple questions, which leads to customer satisfaction and a better customer experience. Companies must be careful to ensure self-service resources are clear and complete; otherwise, this tactic may have the opposite effect and will lead to frustrated customers.
7. Put an emphasis on social media support
Social media can be a good way to engage with a customer and listen to customer experiences. In order for a company to effectively and beneficially use social media, companies will need to monitor conversations through social channels. This begins with hiring great communicators who work within those social channels and are organized and conscientious. They will need to listen to customer feedback and create customer satisfaction.
8. Do a customer giveaway
An easy way to improve customer experience is to give something away for free. It is important to tailor this giveaway to the customer's preference in order for it to be successful. Personalizing the offer allows the user to feel like the company understands him or her and deepens the company's credibility, leading to more customer satisfaction.
9. Remember the customer
It is important to make a customer feel like the company knows and understands him or her. It is important to personalize the experience. Every time a user visits the company website, the experience should be tailored to that individual consumer. The website should remember how many times the user has visited the site and adjust accordingly. This leads to a less frustrating and more positive customer experience and better customer retention.
10. Measure and analyze customer emotions
Measuring customer emotion is a new, growing trend customer experience experts are noticing. Companies that have the tools in place to measure and understand the emotions of their customers are better able to meet their needs. Emotion detection software is popping up in call centers, but Arussy feels it is more reactive than proactive and will be more useful when it can measure customer emotions in real time.
For now, companies can start by building models of common buying personalities that reflect the emotional needs of their customers and train call center agents to reference these when dealing with customers.
11. Act on customer feedback
Everyone knows the importance of customer feedback, but not all companies actually act on the feedback and make the changes customers are looking for. According to Gartner, this is something all organizations should be doing to increase their number of satisfied, loyal customers. It is recommended that changes are communicated clearly and openly to all members of the organization. Technologies like speech and text analytics, as well as customer surveys, are often used for gathering customer opinions.
12. Take the customer's point of view
Gartner Vice President Ed Thompson recommends focusing on two or three processes customers care the most about and designing them with the customer's point of view in mind. By taking the customer's point of view, companies stop focusing on the way the customer looks to them, and begin focusing on the way they look to the customer. This can lead to more relevant, trustworthy and worthwhile business practices.
13. Anticipate problems before they happen
Try to anticipate problems before they occur in order to ensure the best customer experience. Fixing a problem before a customer knows it's a problem leads to customer happiness. Staying a step ahead and being proactive allows you to stay in control of the user experience.
14. Create a well-balanced customer experience team
According to Gartner, organizations with the best-run customer experience programs usually have a good mixture of people from all areas of the organization responsible for and reporting on the customer experience. Thompson recommends the customer experience team structure be made up of people who are focused on customer loyalty, customer satisfaction and process improvement.
15. Design the total customer experience
Organizations shouldn't sit back and let the customer experience unfold as it will. Experts feel successful customer experiences need to be carefully designed and thoughtfully planned out to ensure that the right experience is delivered every time.
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