LEVER 7: SERVICE CUSTOMERS
WITH GREAT EXPERIENCES
Customer expectations are higher than ever and word of mouth travels fast!
And as the customer becomes even more empowered, it increases the importance of the customer experience.
Customer experience is an area that needs constant nurturing and care and, with a greater focus on customer experience strategy, companies will realize a positive impact on customer loyalty, higher retention and increased revenue growth.
The primary reason why it’s important to grow is that a customer who has a positive experience with a business is more likely to become a repeat and loyal customer.
Companies that successfully implement a customer experience strategy achieve higher customer satisfaction rates , reduced customer churn and increased revenues and are also willing to pay more for a better experience.
Customer experience is defined by interactions between a customer and a business throughout their relationship .
Interaction can include awareness, discovery, cultivation, advocacy, purchases, and service.
If you want your customers to stay loyal, you have to invest in their experience.
Even though the importance of customer service is increasing a high priority, many companies are failing.
Customers expect every interaction as the best experience they have with any company, so the question is remains, if you want to grow your business, is customer experience a central strategy for your business?
CX design can be quite messy by nature. But as long as you have a solid idea of the type of customer experience you’re trying to build, and how you’re going to build it, the process becomes a lot easier.
To keep things simple, you can focus on improving just a couple of areas, to begin with, like your website or customer service. Once the basics are covered, it’s a good idea to look at slightly more complex CX strategy formulation.
When forming a long-term strategy, also bear in mind your business goals. Although it’s important to keep the customer’s needs front-of-mind, there’s no point in doing this if it’ll jeopardise your profitability. Pick your battles and invest wisely – this is ultimately what good CX strategy comes down to.
Remember – the perfect CX doesn’t exist! It’s a process of continual improvement and keeping in touch with evolving consumer/business demands.
As long as you’re taking meaningful steps in the right direction, you’re on the path to better business outcomes for your organisation.
1. DO A QUICK SELF ASSESSMENT
Try answering the questions below yourself to get a general sense of what may be missing or adrift from your current approach to delivering great customer experiences and then focus on capturing opportunities for improvement and growth.
2. BENCHMARK TO OUR BETTER PRACTICE STANDARD
In collaboration with our independent specialist provider partner network we are continually developing better practice standard frameworks across multiple marketing disciplines from which our business members can benchmark their current practices against and more readily identify opportunities for improvement and growth.
The first step in your customer experience strategy is to have a clear customer-focused vision that you can communicate with your organisation.
The easiest way to define this vision is to create a set of values statements that act as guiding principles.
Once these principles are in place, they will drive the behavior of your organization. Every member of your team should know these principles by heart and they should be embedded into all areas of training and development.
Creating a CX-oriented culture is a top-down process. Focus on training line-managers, and ensure that they have the tools necessary to explain the importance of CX with your front-line team.
From this point, you need to conduct quality assurance to check that the message is getting through. Look at customer complaints, and how they were handled – what does this show about the attitude of your representatives?
Ultimately it comes down to instilling an automatic culture where the customer is central and every one of your team is singing off the same song sheet when it comes to delivering excellent customer service.
To get the most out of your CX investment, you need to be smart about spending your time/money, by performing a basic cost/benefit analysis.
- Think about ways of improving customer relations for little/no expense.
- Consider the long-term ramifications as well as the short-term benefits of investments you make.
If your organisation is going to really understand customer needs and wants, then they need to be able to connect and empathize with the situations that your customers face.
One way to do this is to segment your customers and create personas and map their customer journies, so your customer support team can better recognise and respond to their
needs and service preferences.
It’s about placing the customer as the primary central driver of the business, not your product or service, being truly customer-centric.
The most fundamental issue you need to focus on in driving better practice in customer experience centres on the question of how do you make the experiences of interaction for your customers as easy and as quick as possible.
Start the process by firstly holding a brainstorming session with your support and sales & marketing teams to come up with the top 3 difficulties your customers face in interacting with your business.
If you’re having trouble, consider undertaking a sample survey of existing customers or refer back to past surveys or past and current social media feedback.
Once you’ve uncovered these issues, begin attacking them. Keep in mind the strategic goals of your business when designing these solutions and carefully consider how changes required may affect your business processes and efficiency in the long run. It may well transpire that the solution you come up with does not make financial sense.
Whatever redesign you come up with making sure you talk with and scope out the full impact with all related functional stakeholders especially your sales and service support operations along with consideration of additional training investments that may be required.
Consider investing in greater self-service.
- It makes for easier shopping.
The less friction in the checkout process, the more sales you’ll make.
- It’s cheaper. Enabling the customer to do things themselves means employees can spend their time more efficiently, dealing with more complex issues – particularly in customer service. It also means fewer mistakes, and cost savings in the long run.
- Customers prefer it – particularly Millennials. Or, more accurately, they prefer at least having the option to use self-service if they don’t feel like interacting with a cashier or rep on that particular day.
- It makes adherence to process much more likely. If there’s some sort of negotiation between the sales rep and the customer, your staff member might be more likely to make concessions in some instances for example. Self-service can also help to eliminate other types of human error.
Apart from being responsive to customer concerns, you actually have to provide the right support to the people who need it. Investing in customer service can be incredibly valuable – both for improving brand perception and minimizing customer attrition rates.
Remember, you’re not just spending money on maintaining existing relations here. Pull the data on how many leads or potential customers ask questions before buying – you may already have a sales team dedicated to the pre-sale nurturing process.
The person or team running your contact centre or IT help desk should be your first port of call.
You need honest answers to the following sorts of questions:
- Is our support team capable (both in terms of size and skill) of handling customer inquiries in a timely manner?
- How are our KPIs doing? Look at metrics like your first-contact resolution and service level. Are these readings good enough?
- Are customers able to communicate over their preferred channel, and is the process seamless? Think about the market segments you’re working with. If contacting you over email almost always yields a faster response from a CS rep than messaging you on Twitter, and you get a decent volume of questions on social media, it might be worth reallocating your resources to ensure more even coverage.
- What quality assurance measures do we have in place? Some organisations are coming to the realisation that manual QA is leaving a lot to be desired – issues are slipping through the cracks, and reviewing calls or tickets by hand takes an enormous amount of time. Your first step should be figuring out what QA actually means for your organisation, as different firms use it in different ways. Are you just checking the basics (like the greeting) or are you making a more objective analysis of the agent’s performance? Voice analytics is a potential solution to the conversational side of this problem for large-volume contact centres.
- Do our representatives have the data they need to provide the best-possible help? Ideally, you want your team to have instant access to a client’s prior contact notes and purchase history when they ask for help. This is what contactSPACE CallGuides® deliver in a call centre setting.
Like we mentioned earlier, you’ve got to ensure that the decision to make changes to your customer service processes fit in with your business goals, and have sound economic logic backing them up.
Upgrading your customer service technology solutions and/or making changes to your staffing structure are big decisions to make. However, if you have a clear business case, meaning you know what you want the change to achieve, and understand how this change will enable you to achieve better business outcomes, then you’re on the right path to making a worthwhile investment.
Following on from #2, when addressable concerns are raised, you have to be lightning-quick to respond – and you need to respond well.
A good response shows that you actually care. And if the customer honestly believes that you actually care, they’re much more likely to stick with you. The last thing you want is the customer feeling helpless or abandoned.
For the bigger firms out there, this also means being responsive to broader public relations events – whether positive or negative.
No matter how large your business, it’s a good idea to use Google Alerts if you aren’t already. Type in any variations of your brand name (and competitors, if you like), and the service will ping you when a web page mentioning one of these terms is published. If you’re getting too many results, filter it to only include news articles from reputable sources.
How can you tell if you are delivering a WOW customer experience?
You need to ask – And ideally you do this by capturing feedback in real time.
Of course, it’s possible to make outbound calls to customers in order to gain more insightful feedback.
It’s also important to tie customer feedback to a specific customer support agent, which shows every team member the difference they are making to the business
Your customers are going to be the first ones to let you know that things aren’t going how they’d like them to be.
The aim here is to cast your net as wide as possible. Someone who writes a negative Google review might not complete any of your surveys. And someone who does complete your survey may have never even thought to @ you on Twitter. It’s important to cover all the bases.
Begin by monitoring your social mentions, and anywhere that customers are leaving reviews.
While surveys can be useful, they’re not exactly perfect. If you run them without some sort of incentive for filling them out, you may miss out on a lot of feedback – both positive and negative. But if you do include an incentive (like entry into the draw for a prize) customers are likely to speak more positively of your service, in the hope it’ll win them the prize.
The best way to go about this are simple, to-the-point, post-interaction surveys. This way, the feedback will be hot off the press. Plus, if a customer just spent 10 minutes doing something on your website/app, they’re less likely to mind spending another 30 seconds filling out a form.
6. Act upon regular employee feedback
Most organizations have an annual survey process where they capture the overall feedback of your team; how engaged they are and the businesses ability to deliver an exceptional service.
But, what happens in the 11 months between these survey periods?
Usually, nothing happens. And this is where continuous employee feedback can play a role using tools that allow staff to share ideas on how to improve the customer experience and for managers to see how staff is feeling towards the business.
For example, using project management software or social media tools, you can create a closed environment where your organization can leave continuous feedback
Customers value flexibility – as we just discussed, giving them the power to choose between self-service and personalised support can be incredibly powerful.
However, there are other choices you can give customers to improve your overall CX:
- Different pricing plans – giving people the freedom to pick what they find to be the best-value deal.
- Usage-based pricing. contactSPACE client UbiCar, for example, provides car insurance quotes based on the customer’s driving style. They assess how you drive using an app which relies on GPS data to measure acceleration and breaking, resulting in fairer premiums for each customer.
- Brand accessibility through a range of different devices and channels. For instance, ensuring that your website is mobile-responsive, and developing an app if necessary to make interactions easier. Customers should also be able to choose the communication method they use to interact with your company, as we already discussed – be it email, phone, SMS, live chat, social media, face-to-face, or even video calling.
- Payment methods – apart from the obvious choices (credit/debit card, cash, PayPal) you could also consider AfterPay – 2.2 million Australians used the platform in its first three years of operation, and their fees are similar to most other payment processors. Cryptocurrency is yet to see mainstream adoption, but it could be worth looking at depending on your customer demographics.
There is a balance to achieve here though: choice vs complexity. You don’t want to have 10 different pricing plans – not only can this confuse customers, it makes customer support more complex as well, especially if you sell add-ons and extra functionality specific to each customer.
Trust is always important, especially if you are handling sensitive data, provide a vital service, or have a relatively expensive product, it’s crucial that your customers have a sense that they can rely on you to deliver when it matters.
The fundamentals of building trust are:
1. Minimising unexpected disruption, and ensuring the quality of your product.
2. Your response to issues especially when things go adrift or wrong. The best policy is always to be open and honest about what’s going on and be sure to give reasonable estimates for when issues will be fixed.
When implementing a new customer experience strategy, you need to have some idea of how you’re going to measure success. This way, you can find out what works and what doesn’t, and make improvements to your experience delivery which will result in real benefits for your customers.
The best way of doing this is with data- as numbers never lie!
Get a baseline reading of the following KPIs, and then check in on them after implementing new CX tactics.
- Sales revenue.
- Customer attrition/churn.
- New customer acquisition.
- Service level and first contact resolution – for contact centre customer service.
- Social media mentions/followers/likes. These measures can be used to assess brand loyalty, but take them with a pinch of salt. Look for sudden upticks as the result of new campaigns, and remember – not all mentions are going to be positive.
- Website conversion rates, bounce rates, cart abandonment rates, average order values and average time on page, for measuring website experience. These sorts of KPIs require more granular analysis to truly understand what they mean. For example, when assessing cart abandonment, look at who is abandoning. You may realise, for example, that shipping costs to certain regions are too high, prompting customers in these locations to shop elsewhere.
- Net promoter score (NPS). This essentially looks at the percentage of your customers who would be willing to promote your brand. One way of measuring this is to ask clients on a scale of 1-10 how likely they’d be to recommend your products to someone they knew. If they answer 9 or 10, they count as a promoter.
3. Create an emotional connection with your customers
You’ve heard the phrase “it’s not what you say; it’s how you say it”?
Well, the best customer experiences are achieved when a member of your team creates an emotional connection with a customer.
One of the best examples of creating an emotional connection comes from Zappos:
When a customer was late on returning a pair of shoes due to her mother passing away. When Zappos found out what happened, they took care of the return shipping and had a courier pick up the shoes without cost. But, Zappos didn’t stop there. The next day, the customer arrived home to a bouquet of flowers with a note from the Zappos customer service team who sent their condolences.
Research by the Journal of Consumer Research has found that more than 50% of an experience is based on an emotion as emotions shape the attitudes that drive decisions.
Customers become loyal because they are emotionally attached and they remember how they feel when they use a product or service. A business that optimizes for an emotional connection outperforms competitors by 85% in sales growth.
And, according to a recent Harvard Business Review study titled “The New Science of Customer Emotions“, emotionally engaged customers are:
- At least three times more likely to recommend your product or service
- Three times(!) more likely to re-purchase
- Less likely to shop around (44% said they rarely or never shop around)
- Much less price sensitive (33% said they would need a discount of over 20% before they would defect).
Start by figuring out what QA actually means for your organisation, as different firms use it in different ways.
Are you just checking the basics (like the greeting) or are you making a more objective analysis of performance?
What quality assurance measures do we have in place? Some organisations are coming to the realisation that manual QA is leaving a lot to be desired – issues are slipping through the cracks, and reviewing calls or tickets by hand takes an enormous amount of time.
3. GROWTH CONTENT : DELIVERING GREAT CUSTOMER EXPERIENCES
At Marketing Search we facilitate through ourselves directly and our partner network knowledge feeds, insights to support your business execute growth strategies centred on developing and serving great customer experience.
4. GET SUPPORT AND TAKE ACTION
Need some expert advice in developing better customer experiences?
Get in touch with us at Marketing Search and get answers to all your questions.
We’ll explore your current approach and recommend ways you can improve your customers experiences.
5. CHECK OUT OUR 6 ADDITIONAL MARKETING GROWTH LEVERS