No matter the type of business, it is important to prioritize the overall customer experience. It’s just as important for a business to acknowledge that not every customer will ultimately be satisfied, and to use negative feedback as a learning opportunity to improve.
Providing an exceptional customer experience can take a significant amount of work, but it can also be relatively straightforward if everyone within the business works as a team.
What Is Customer Experience?
Customer experience — often shortened to CX — is the outcome of an interaction between a business and its customers. From the moment a customer scrolls through a website, to when they pull into a parking lot, every interaction a customer has is a part of their journey and, ultimately, their experience.
What Is the Benefit of a Positive Customer Experience?
There are many benefits of customer experience excellence:
- Greater brand equity: Brand equity is essentially the value of a brand name. Much like an increase in revenue, customers that walk away with positive experiences are more likely to generate positive buzz for a brand, increasing brand equity. Customer-generated brand equity is like revenue because it can supplement or even replace active advertising.
- Higher customer retention: Higher customer retention means customers tend to return to the business and continue to buy from them in lieu of choosing another product or business.
- Increases customer loyalty: Customer loyalty is the product of positive experiences with a company, making people want to come back for repeat business.
- Increases revenue: Revenue is the income generated by normal business operations. More positive customer experiences can mean more referrals and repeat customers, which can ultimately lead to an overall increase in revenue.
- It reduces churn: If a competitor can provide a better end-to-end experience, any gaps in the CX you provide can send customers to seek the alternative. By improving customer experience, you reduce the chance of losing a customer (customer churn).
- Receives more word of mouth referrals: When a customer has a memorable experience they may talk about it amongst their friends and family, potentially bringing in new customers.
How to Improve Customer Experience
CX matters in every step of the customer’s journey, so the first step in improving CX is to identify every potential point of this journey.
Different ways to create a great customer experience include setting goals that focus on:
- Obtaining customer feedback;
- Understanding the customer;
- Analyzing the business mission;
- Tending to customer needs;
Nail the Three Dimensions of Service
The three dimensions of service are ability, capability, and flexibility. Realizing all three fully ensures a business can offer exceptional service before and after the sale.
- Ability: A company must have the ability to fulfill the customer’s needs before they can ask people to pay them to do it.
- Capability: Capability is the extent to which a business can deliver on their abilities.
- Flexibility: A company must have flexibility at the moment to bend to the customer’s current needs.
Take Pride in Your Facility
The first and last impression a customer has is the physical appearance of a facility, the condition of which speaks volumes of the brand. If the lights are out on the signs, paint is chipping on the building or the appearance, in general, seems off, a customer may have a negative first impression.
However, if the physical appearance is pleasing to the eye, it will start the customer off on the right foot. The lighting in the parking lot can make an especially big difference. If it’s a car dealership, the owner wants the cars to shine. If it’s a mall, customers want to feel safe walking to and from their vehicles in the dark.
Understand the Customer’s Journey
The best way to understand the customer’s journey is by walking in their shoes. Viewing a business from the customer’s point of view allows for a business owner to see exactly what areas they’re doing well in, and what areas need improvement. Thinking of the customer journey as a roadmap details the process of how a customer becomes aware of the brand.
Make the Customer’s Experience Seamless
A seamless experience starts internally. If you’re running a big operation with lots of moving parts, such as a manufacturing facility, you may want to take advantage of the Internet of Things to smooth out internal hiccups. Communication amongst team members and internal systems are both vital in terms of making the customer’s experience seamless.
It’s About the People
While you may have the best technology available, in the end, what really matters is the experience of the customer. If a customer is left with a bad experience, the chances that they’ll return are likely slim-to-none.
With technology growing, it’s wise for a company to stay updated on ways to improve their CX and still be aware of the importance of face-to-face contact, knowing how it affects the other aspects of the company.
But all in all, it is as simple as going through your entire experience through the lens of the customer. And most importantly, listen to the customer. Customer feedback is the most valuable piece of data that can help you truly optimize your business so that your customer experience is memorable in the best way.