The biggest consumer gripe is usually poor customer service. In today’s ever demanding world, we’ve become more and more aware of service levels.
In parallel with the anonymity of superstores, retail parks and the loss of the traditional high street, customer experience is often funnelled into a cost-driven exercise rather than a value-based engagement. Even the biggest proponents of customer service, the American burger giant McDonalds, is struggling in delivering great service in what should be a very simple environment.
Easy-to-access channels such as social media mean that customers can immediately publicise their views, often without thought or much consideration. This article isn’t about social media strategies, however. Creating fantastic customer experiences means that brand or business loyalty can be not only gained but strengthened. Whether this is simply handling phone calls, emails or customer communication – ensuring the customer is at the centre of all that you do is vital in developing a successful customer experience.
“The sum of all interactions a customer has with a company.”
Harvard Business Review
One of the questions we raise in a brand workshop is to ask delegates about a memorable customer or brand experience. Responses vary but many speak about recognition, the personal touch and how valued they felt. In a world where service should lead, we are often left disappointed. Even in a B2B environment, customer experience is crucial. From the moment you begin an interaction, customer experience should be at the forefront of your strategy. Why? Well,‘First Impressions’ count, but so does every part of the customer journey. The second analogy also counts – you never get a second chance – so make it count first time and every time.
Five steps to customer experience joy
- Map out the customer journey – every little step counts. From initial touchpoint through the longer term customer journey get to know your customers’ needs, wants and even their emotions. Ask customers to talk about their pain points as well as hero service.
- Touch points matter but don’t forget to the consider the total process – living in the customer’s world is crucial. Have you tested how your on-boarding process works in reality e.g. call to actions from emails through to sign ups across all devices.
- Don’t work in silos – involve every function of your organisation from reception to sales personnel. Exploring the wider picture can ensure no gaps occur. In other words set a common purpose – a roadmap and much more. Explain how you want to leave a customer satisfied.
- Ensure follow up is rooted into every customer journey. Whether it’s a simple email to say thank you for your business or a hand-written note, the benefit is continued customer engagement and ultimately, loyalty.
- Practice what you preach – walk the talk and make sure everyone in your organisation understands the customer journey, the importance of individual touchpoint and their role within the customer relationship. Also make sure your tech works – whether this is your website or an App. There is nothing worse than over promising and under delivering. An underwhelmed customer is not a loyal customer.
So who do you vote as delivering the best in customer service? Apple are often cited as delivering the best in customer service – they’re renowned for creating an experience – whether it’s the store environment to the free workshops they put on, they understand that by focusing on the customer experience, they’ll get longer term brand loyalty and thus increased custom.