ttracting new customers and retaining existing ones doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Oftentimes businesses run towards extreme tactics like reducing prices in the attempt to obtain a competitive advantage, but that doesn’t have to be your automatic go-to tactics. Competing on price will only get you so far (if at all) - but that is a topic for a completely separate post… In this post, I want to talk about what customer experience can do for you.
To cut a long story short - by leveraging outstanding customer experience, you can attract new customers, retain your current customers and build a brand they will love and evangelize about without compromising your profit competing on price.
In fact, a study by Walker found that by this year, 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. So in this post, we will expound more on customer experience and how you can leverage it to increase your competitive advantage, customer base and revenue.
What is customer experience?
Customer experience can be defined as the impression left on a customer after interacting with your business - from navigating your website, reading your content to the feedback they get from you on social media and customer service.
Every touchpoint a customer has with you influences their perception of you and your brand.
So, if customers have a positive experience, there is a high chance they will remember you and would gladly share the experience with friends and family, becoming word-of-mouth brand advocates.
Why is customer experience important?
With the help of the internet, customers have a plethora of options (your competitors) when deciding on purchases or choosing a company to do business with.
Offering a better customer experience gives you a foothold in influencing how customers feel about your brand and increase the chances of being considered among all the options available to them.
In addition to influencing consumer perception, having a better customer experience increases brand loyalty resulting in more repeat customers. In fact, a study by PWC found out that 73% of consumers say a good experience plays a key part in influencing their brand loyalty.
Along with brand loyalty, customer experience increases word of mouth marketing and improves customer satisfaction resulting in positive reviews and recommendations.
At the same time, it reduces complaints and negative recommendations.
All this explains why 84% of companies report an increase in revenue as a result of improving their customer experience.
Before looking at how you can create a good customer experience, let’s discern the difference between customer service and customer experience as most businesses see both terms are interchangeable.
What’s the difference between customer service and customer experience?
As we have seen, customer experience is the perception a customer has of your business after interacting with it along the customer journey, from reading your blog, through any enquiry, subscription or purchase process, to calling your customer service for assistance. On the other hand, customer service refers to just specific touchpoints of the whole customer journey where a customer gets assistance and prompt feedback from the business.
So basically, customer service is just one part of the customer experience.
Example of a good and bad customer experience
Poor customer experience example
I am pretty sure, unfortunately, that each of you can think of at least one bad customer experience you encountered at some point.
Take this for example. Unsubscribing from an email list should be as easy as hitting the unsubscribe button. But for some users, it isn’t the case.
Unsubscribing from emails has been made to be such a difficult process, going through captcha verifications and various surveys.
By making it hard to unsubscribe, it would make an already frustrated user more frustrated and vent out his/her feelings and perception of you to friends and family or social media.
Below is an example of such a scenario.
This is a tiny example, but making it hard for a user to unsubscribe - won’t keep him on board. On the contrary, and you need to think about this type of interaction every step of the way, at every touchpoint, in every type of interaction.
Exceptional customer experience example
Casper, a mattress manufacturing company was built on the basis of providing a different customer experience around the whole culture of sleep.
To provide such experiences, it needed to be customer-centric and know their audience really well.
They came up with a free chatbot, the Insomnobot 3000. It created relationships with sleepless customers who only had to text “Insomnobot 3000” from their phones and would hold a real conversation with the bot.
Through such an experience, Casper boosts loyalty and retention. Loyal customers would then turn into fans that can’t wait to share their experiences with friends and family and on social media as seen below.
As businesses, we should be customer-centric and provide the right service or product at the right time. Casper does exactly that.
To build upon the need of knowing your customers, a customer signing up to an ebook on a vegetarian recipe landing page, would probably expect perfectly personalized follow up with emails on vegetarian related content rather than the 10 best burger joints in NYC...
How do you build good customer experience?
According to a survey conducted by Bain and Company, 80% of companies believe they are delivering “superior customer experience”. But when customers were asked of their opinion, they said only 8% of companies were really delivering such exceptional experiences.
So how can companies fill this gap?
To fill the gap, let’s go through ways you can build good customer experience to stay ahead of the competition.
- Understand your customers
The key to delivering a great experience lies in knowing your customers’ needs and wants.
A good rule of thumb is to put yourself in your customers’ shoes to gain a customer’s perspective of your business. This would help you to become more customer-centric.
You will effectively communicate with them because you understand their needs, wants, feelings and preferences.
Once you know your customers’ intent and what drives them to take action, it becomes easier to write an effective copy, provide the right product and communicate specific benefits.
You can perform the following actions to understand your customers:
- Along your customer journey, incorporate customer satisfaction surveys in your email campaigns to comprehend what’s effective and what is disconnecting you from your customers.
- Build a more detailed buyer persona to provide enough information on your customers, their frustrations, their goals and needs, that will help in creating messaging that resonates with them and is actually beneficial. In addition to the generic information like profession and location, segment your personas based on keyword searches using tools to track the type of content frequently consumed.
- Get to know what your customers like and dislike through a phone call. You get the chance to dig deeper into their pain points and challenges. With this insight, you can optimize your processes to provide a stellar customer experience.
Once you understand who your typical customer is, it is easier to provide an exceptional customer experience.
- Minimize friction with your customers
Customers encounter the best experience when they effortlessly interact with your business - all through the funnel, from learning about you, through sign-up, interest, purchase all the way to customer support.
Make the every touchpoint effortless, smooth and as immediate as possible, to get them coming back to use your service or product.
Analyze every point where customers interact with your business and find out where they get stuck or find it hard to proceed to the next stage.
They might be experiencing long wait times or difficulties in unsubscribing from your email list, or leave an interest request - with no one on your end to respond. They may have difficulty figuring out which product package to buy, your pricing or your cancellation policies, or may just have a problem with your product and need assistance immediately.
The aim is to find the elements in your touchpoint where you can eliminate friction and make interaction with your business as easy as can be. If you have a chance to exceed expectations - do it.
- Provide customer feedback quickly
When businesses reply fast or acknowledge the customer after receiving customer feedback, they are more likely to share it with friends because they feel appreciated, special and that you value their time.
In fact, 77% of customers view brands favourably when you act upon their feedback.
In addition, every business should make it easy for customers to communicate with them. Openly display your contact details from your email, social media pages to your phone number, and try to make sure to either have the resources to “mann the station”, or at least be very clear in managing expectations for your response time.
The worst-case scenario that we’d want is a customer purchasing a product or service, sends an inquiry only to get a reply a day later and the only contact details provided was an email address.
- Adopt personalization to create memorable experiences
Empathy and genuinely connecting with your customers can drastically improve the delivery of customer experience.
Take for example dropping an email wishing them a happy birthday, directly calling your customers to check if they were satisfied with your service or sending physical gifts can go a long way in creating a positive and memorable experience.
Delivering personalized experiences can also be achieved by providing personalized content. Engaging customers with content that they seek through their favourite medium will create an exceptional experience.
In fact, according to a study by Epsilon, 80% of customers say they are more likely to make a purchase when businesses offer personalization.
Do the little things that will delight and surprise your customers that your competitors mostly overlook. This will increase your chances of creating loyal customers and reducing churn rate.
- Hire the right people
Employees can solely determine the experience a customer has with a business. They can either fail to comprehend what issue a customer is facing and make him more infuriated, or exceptionally assist a customer getting his account back to operation and count one happy customer served.
To ensure delivery of good customer experience, seek to hire employees based on interpersonal skills. Skills such as empathy, active listening, patience and problem-solving. Such employees will emotionally connect with customers and genuinely want to help them out.
When customers feel their needs are understood and addressed they will feel valued and be more connected to the brand.
Additionally, invest your employees into the process in order to fully answer any questions brought forward by customers whether through social media, emails or phone calls.
Price and features will only get you so far. It is the total value you give to your prospects and customers that makes the difference both in the immediate and the long run. Of course, you need a good product or service that delivers on your promises, but to attract loyal customers who will evangelize your brand, your value needs to be above and beyond, and leveraging customer experiences is a great place to start.