The Customers 2020 Report states that by the year 2020, customer experience will take its rightful place as a key brand differentiator. This comes as no surprise, especially if we take into account the rise in today’s customer-centric culture.
Customer experience is a determining factor that builds a bridge between a business and its customers, thus being one of the major pillars when it comes to creating a successful brand. However, getting it wrong can be very costly. It can ruin your company’s reputation, facilitate customer loss, affect your long-term sales, and, eventually, ruin your business completely.
To prevent this from happening, steer clear of the following customer mistakes:
Poor customer service
According to Djuradj Caranovic, a renowned keynote speaker and expert in business innovation, “While the logic of every healthy business culture implies customer satisfaction is made imperative, much of it has, over the years, shifted towards dry capital, extensive ROI and everything else in between, leaving an average customer feel like their voice doesn’t matter.”
Luckily, it seems that ‘customer service’ has gone from an adorable buzzword to the most important business mantra. In fact, he believes that “customer-centrism is the “it” gal on the block.”
The first impression is everything in today’s fast-paced world, and not only when it comes to personal relations. Note that customer service representatives are the ones that will have the most interaction with your clients. If a customer has a question about your offer, experiences a problem of sorts, or is dissatisfied with a product or a service, frontline employees will be the first point of contact.
Now, imagine how detrimental would it be if a customer calls or shows up, and is met with an unskilled, untrained, disinterested, or a frustrated employee who doesn’t have the ability to address the issue at hand, nor has adequate people skills to address the customer’s request in a proper manner. Due to a small budget, understaffing, or time constraints, companies often neglect to train and empower their employees, thinking that it is not that important. Don’t make the same mistake – keep in mind that your employees’ attitude reflects the attitude of your company. Poor customer experience is sure to impact the attitude your customers have towards your brand, so if your employees are dissatisfied, your customers will be as well.
In order to have highly-motivated employees and satisfied with their job, ensure their needs are met. This includes providing a competitive salary, organizing effective customer service training, and creating a positive workplace environment. Having a polite, eloquent, charismatic, high-performing, well-trained, helpful, and well-informed team of employees working in the customer service department is vital to providing a great customer experience.
Depriving your customers of human contact
As stated above, the unqualified customer service team can be detrimental for your business. However, having no team at all can be even worse. Many companies use automated emails, chatbots, and customer service phone lines based on voice recognition. The main reason they became an invaluable asset in a business environment is the fact that they are very efficient and allow companies to save manpower, time and, consequently, money. The one thing they fail to address is actual human contact.
Once your customer decides to purchase your product or has any product-related inquiries, they expect to interact with a real, human representative – not a machine. Apart from getting answers to their questions, they want to talk to someone who is able to understand their situation on an emotional level by providing empathy and reassurance.
According to the research conducted by Accenture, 83% percent of U.S. consumers would rather have their request addressed by a human representative than by an automated service. Although digital channels are a great addition to the customer service efficiency, the figures speak for themselves – if you want to avoid a customer experience mistake that might cost you your business, don’t forget to include real-life customer service as well.
Neglecting customer feedback
We live in an era of customer-centric culture. This means that, if businesses want to stand out and build stronger customer relationships, they should focus on finding out how to think like a customer. And what better way to do this than to gather and implement product-related customer feedback.
When it comes to maximizing customer experience, implementing the input your customers are willing to share with you is essential for creating a loyal customer base. It is not enough to simply collect information from your customers – make sure you set some time aside to actually read, analyze, and implement it. What’s the point of going through all the trouble of gathering feedback if you are not willing to use it to improve your business? Trust us, your customers will notice and appreciate the effort.
However, bear in mind that the way you choose to collect feedback matters as well. It is crucial to leave enough room for your customers to actually be able to express themselves and share their point of view. This will send them a message that you are genuinely interested in what they have to say, and want them to participate in the improvement of your products. Avoid generic means of collecting data such as surveys, as they usually don’t offer much space for anything else than yes/no answers and ticking boxes.
Abandoning “the customer is always right” policy
Although it is essential for your company’s best interest to have a clear customer service policy, being rigid when dealing with complaints can affect your customers’ satisfaction and ruin your company’s reputation. If your customer service representatives are not trained to handle case-by-case complaints, tend to point out that it is the customer’s fault for not paying attention to terms and conditions, or are unwilling to admit a product is being faulty, your customers will surely be dissatisfied.
Avoid making this mistake by ensuring your employees are aware of your company’ policy, but at the same time flexible when addressing individual cases. Give them clear guidelines and point out they should never blame the customer or say it’s their fault (even if it is). Instead, their job is to assure the caller that their complaint is heard, understood, and properly dealt with. Of course, there are cases when a customer simply isn’t right but your employees must be ready to come up with a helpful and effective solution.
Additionally, if the mistake is on your part (e.g. a faulty product), rest assured it won’t hurt your customer experience if you admit that it happened. According to Greg Hixon, a business growth specialist: “Complete transparency about the mistake, a good humble attitude, a sincere apology, and a token of appreciation for the customer who is the victim of your mistake will not only make it right, it will cement the loyalty and provide word-of-mouth marketing from that customer.”
“It’s not personal, it’s strictly business”
Although this saying might seem logical at first, truly successful businesses have never neglected the opportunity to maximize customer experience by creating emotional bonds. Customer experience relies on building a strong relationship with your customers, and emotions and personal interactions play a great role in making that happen.
In fact, Harvard Business Review conducted research on customer emotions, and the results state that the customers who develop an emotional connection with a brand are 52% more valuable in terms of the company’s loyalty and reputation in comparison to those customers who are highly satisfied, but don’t have any kind of emotional connection.
Many companies end up investing their time, money, and resources in the wrong places, which can have a negative impact on customer experience and cause their businesses to end in failure.
Invest in your customers and ensure your investment pays off.