Odds are, at one point or another, you’ve wondered what makes a company tick and able to maintain a steady business. Maybe you think good business is a simple matter of having a quality product. Perhaps you believe that the ultimate branding strategy is the real key to a company’s prolonged success.
As it turns out, one of the most important traits a company should possess (if it wants to attract business) is to have a well-thought-out customer experience strategy.
Great customer experience is one of the most crucial factors for attracting clients and getting them running back through the door. Plus, when people are happy with a service they let it be known, which (if the experience remains consistent), will subsequently attract more clients – and so the cycle continues.
If you’re asking yourself:
- What is customer experience?
- How can you enhance customer experience?
- Is there a formula for the best customer experience?
- Which customer experience strategy is right for your business?
You’ve come to the right place. Get all of the answers to those questions, plus plenty more tips and pointers on how to improve customer experience, just below.
What is customer experience?
Customer experience is the product of all of the steps that a customer takes throughout the entire process of interacting with your business and its services. A strong customer experience strategy essentially means that from the moment that the customer begins learning about the business, the client receives a highly contextual and personalized experience.
What does that really mean?
Here are some statistics to illustrate what customers say they want their experience to look like:
- 90% of customers prefer to speak with a human representative over a chatbot – they like that human touch
- 84% of customers express that they want to be treated as individuals, not as numbers
- 76% of customers expect companies to anticipate and know their needs and expectations – in other words, be a mind a reader!
- 70% of customers say that the chances of them giving business to a company depends largely on their ability to understand the products & services clearly
- 59% of customers feel that companies should provide tailored engagement based on past interactions – remember your customers!
These are just a handful of examples – there are many different metrics that can be used to show the importance of a client’s level of satisfaction. No matter which way you slice it, the bottom line is that companies have begun adjusting their focus much more heavily on customer experience (otherwise known as CX). In fact, 81% of companies say that they anticipate needing to compete either mostly or even completely on the basis of CX/customer experience in 2019.
Before we move on to explain the ways by which you can improve customer experience, let’s first clarify the difference between CX/customer experience and customer support.
What’s the difference between customer experience and customer support?
Customer experience and customer support are two related, but different, terms that have to do with the way in which patrons interact with a company. This means we can view customer support as one piece out of many that come together to form a larger picture that is customer experience.
Customer support is “the process of ensuring customer satisfaction with a product or service”. Often times this is done through human-to-human interaction, but many companies also use self-service systems through telephone or on their website.
Customer experience is the entire sum of all the different parts of the customer’s journey with the company, including customer support. Essentially, everything that a company does at any point of interacting with customers can be considered part of the customer experience.
5 ways to improve your customer experience
Looking for ways to improve your customer service strategy? No sweat. Get a head-start with these top pointers on how to enhance customer service.
5 tips for great customer service:
- Get everybody onboard
- Be open to customer criticism
- Automate the simple stuff
- Prioritize [cyber] security
- Use SaaS
We won’t leave you hanging – here’s a more detailed look at each of those 5 pieces of advice:
1. Get everybody onboard
It’s not enough anymore to have a specified department focused on customer service. That’s a good start but, with such a widespread demand among patrons for great customer experience, it’s become more and more necessary to make the customer experience strategy a bottom-up process. Every employee in the company should be invested in optimizing their work for the sake of improving customer experience, and it’s the business owner’s responsibility to create that company culture.
2. Be open to customer criticism
If the goal is to enhance customer experience, it only makes sense that a company should pay close attention to the feedback they receive from their customers. If not by considering what customers have to say, how else would a business be able to adjust their plan to become more effective and attractive? The first step towards realizing this piece of advice is to make sure that you offer your patrons a way to communicate their critiques, and that you assign staff to assess those reviews and handle them productively.
3. Automate the simple stuff
For smaller companies, especially, it’s crucial to limit the number of monotonous tasks that employees need to handle. When employees have a list of boring and seemingly inconsequential chores to complete, they’re likely to feel run-down and then be unable to provide the best customer experience. In order to lighten the load and make it easier for your staff to help improve customer experience, make use of automated services. Any time you can use a chatbot or algorithm to facilitate the job of an employee, you’ll be adding more ways to improve customer experience.
“We strive to challenge the ordinary way that businesses get funded these days…”
– Ron Aris, Director of Sales
For example, at Lending Express we’ve designed a fast and intuitive business loan application process to make the best customer experience for our clients.
As our Director of Sales Ron Aris puts it, “We strive to challenge the ordinary way that businesses get funded these days, and we do so by using advanced algorithms that cross-reference the customer’s financial profile with dozens of relevant lending partners. Ultimately, we’re able to connect businesses with multiple lenders who compete with one another, which puts the applicant (business owner) at a huge advantage.
4. Prioritize [cyber] security
One of the biggest concerns for customers is the security of their information and privacy. In fact, almost 90% of companies report delays in their sales cycle because customers express hesitance over privacy concerns. Nobody wants their information, specifically bank or credit card information, to be placed in jeopardy. That’s why, for the sake of ensuring security and providing the best customer experience, it’s absolutely necessary that a company make significant investments in their security infrastructure. Better to be safe than sorry.
5. Use SaaS
Even with automated services to help take care of incoming customer correspondences, employees may find themselves stretched thin when it comes to internal processes. Luckily there are tons of online platforms, referred to as Software as a Service (SaaS), that are able to streamline communication and synergize the business’s overall operation. It may take a short while to fully integrate new systems into the existing business framework, but the investment is worth it in terms of improving customer experience strategy.
At Lending Express, one of our favorite SaaS platforms is Monday.com, which makes it incredibly simple to organize tasks and maintain open lines of communication between all the different departments in the company.
Why is customer experience so important?
It should go without saying, but we’ll remind you just in case – we are living in the digital age. Anything and everything that a person likes (or doesn’t like) can be posted, blogged, or tweeted about. A small splash on a social media platform can turn into an all-out tsunami with very little warning. And since there’s such ease in making a bad experience go viral, businesses of all different sizes and across a variety of industries face a real threat to their existence.
Whether it’s genuinely for the benefit of the customer, or if it really boils down to your business’s survival, or if it’s a combination of the two – finding ways to enhance customer experience is becoming increasingly important. The American Express Customer Service Barometer has found that customers are willing to spend almost 20% more money in order to receive excellent service. The same research also found that after just one occasion of bad service, 33% of American consumers will consider switching companies.
It’s time to step up CX/customer service, if not for the advantage of the patrons, then for the survival of your business. With such a struggle between small businesses and big corporations nowadays, it’s all the more necessary that business owners make use of every technique at their disposal to remain competitive.
The long and short of it
Developing the best customer experience will depend on the ever-shifting expectations of the customer, as well as limitations businesses face relative to their initial business model, their size, their budget, and so on. In other words, there’s no simple equation that can be used to improve customer experience to the point of perfection.
While perfection may be out of reach, there are still plenty of methods that can be used to enhance customer service. We hope you find these pointers helpful in your efforts to improve your customer experience strategy. If you have questions you feel were left unanswered, please feel free to leave us a comment. And, of course, share this article on social media and with colleagues who may find this information helpful.