10 ways to keep delighting your customers when your budgets are under pressure

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These are turbulent times. Customers have less money to spend, budgets are tight, and marketing departments – like many others – are under a lot of pressure. (It’s why we are organizing a CX Under Pressure Tour in LA in March, by the way). I see companies around me making some really hard decisions, not always to the advantage of the customers. And I do understand that. But I also believe that now, more than ever, is the time to invest in customer experience. Because it’s important to realize that upgrading your CX is not only about hugely expensive AI projects or costly product investments.

That’s why I want to inspire you with 10 different ways in which you can add a little magic to your CX without needing to make gigantic investments.

1.    Make it easy to find and contact you

I think we can all agree that few things that are more frustrating than very well hidden contact details on a website. Chatbots or FAQ are not always the right answer. 55% of users, in fact, say it takes too many questions for a chatbot to recognize it can’t answer their issue. We all know that sometimes people have questions that are not frequent or standard and just require a 5 minute conversation with a human, be it via phone, chat or even e-mail. These are hard times for customers. Be there when they need you. And make it easy for them to find you.

2.    Trust and empower your employees

Speed is of the essence in customer experience. If a company is highly hierarchical and controlling, employees will often be blocked from delivering a great customer experience. Just imagine that a customer find a dress with two buttons missing and a seam that is slightly torn, which she will easily mend because she knows how to sow. She asks for a slight discount because the product is damaged, but the employee needs to ask the manager who’s on a lunch break and he asks if she can return within an hour. Chances are that they will lose that deal. An empowered employee would say “yes”, decide upon a reasonable discount and everyone would be happy. Trust your employees to make these decisions. Trust is free but highly valuable to deliver the best CX.

3.    Make exceptions for those who need it

If I tell you that CX should never be “one-size-fits-all” you’ll probably first think about highly expensive AI personalization or something of the kind. But it does not need to be. One of my favorite “CX in times of Covid stories” comes from Delhaize. When the pandemic hit us, they tried to improve the customer experience by making shopping a lot safer for those who needed that the most. And so it offered exclusive access to its shops from 8.00 until 9.00 to the most vulnerable group of shoppers, the people aged 65 years and beyond. A simple intervention with quite a lot of impact.

4.    Create a little artificial serendipity

Research by the University of Sydney, University of Florida, and Rutgers University uncovered that serendipity and seemingly random discoveries can play a huge role in customer satisfaction. Research by Facebook in 2020 proved something similar: 63 percent of global shoppers enjoy discovering items they weren’t actively looking for.

Drowning in a sea of (information about) products, the ‘magic’ that comes with finding something unexpected has almost completely disappeared for customers. But I also believe that companies really can create ‘artificial’ serendipity to delight their customers. A great example is the pleasure that comes with receiving a random selection of products from subscription box services like Birchbox and Stitchfix. Or why not offer a “Surprise me!” meal if you’re a restaurant owner, for instance, maybe even at a slight. In a world of increasingly orchestrated customer experiences, I believe that brands that understand how to stimulate serendipity will set themselves apart.

5.    Expand an existing service

Offering discounts is not always easy in difficult financial times, but why not offer something extra on top of an existing product or service? I love the example of how AppleCare Plus now covers “unlimited repairs for accidental damage protection”. It used to be limited to “two incidents of accidental damage protection every 12 months”, but they decided to expand that, while not changing the price.  You could argue that fixing products costs money, of course, but I think it’s probably pretty rare that people accidentally break their phone more than 2 times per year, right? And yet, just the fact that they made the service unlimited, is fantastic for their brand image and customer trust.

6.    Make it fun

This is perhaps one of my favorite methods. It is so easy to add a little fun to a service or product if you think about it. Something that will not change the world but just puts a smile on the faces of your customers. I always love giving the example of the Magic Castle Hotel and their bright red popsicle hotline phone beside the pool which, when dialed, will hail a personal popsicle butler with white gloves. Or Tesla’s temporary pool next to their charging stations. Or Centraal Beheer offering a really warm and fun ‘Forget-Me-Not’ parting letter – filled with Forget-Me-Not flower seeds – to customers ending their contract.

7.    Make it easy for customers to leave reviews & feedback

Sometimes customers want to leave feedback without necessarily sending an e-mail (after having to look forever before finding an e-mail address, see point number 1). Maybe it’s because they are super enthusiastic or maybe it’s just to suggest something that could be done slightly better. Give them that opportunity. Why not embed a simple digital feedback form on your website to intercept this crucial feedback? It’s enjoyable for them and will provide you with valuable information on how to offer better services.

8.    Make it personal

Smartphoto is one of my favourite customers. They are always looking for ways to surprise and delight their customers. I remember at one meeting that they dedicated a really modest budget of about 500€ to a very enthusiastic lady that wanted to send congratulations to customers that had sent in pictures of special occasions, like a marriage or birthday. Despite some of the fears about privacy invasion from others at that meeting, the response of the customers was really positive. It really was the personal touch that did it.

9.    Say “yes” instead of “no”

We all know that it is very easy and acceptable to say “no” to reasonable questions from customers that aren’t standard practice. The customer won’t like it, but they’ll accept it. But it’s that first part of the sentence that’s important here: you will have failed at making them happy, while you could have easily done so with just a little effort and almost no extra budget. Maybe they want their 11-year old daughter to drink fruit juice from a wine glass because it’s her birthday? Maybe they want to come get their car that you fixed for them 5 minutes after closing time? Maybe they want to switch rooms in a hotel to be closer to their friends? It’s almost as easy to say “yes” here than to say “no”, so why not just do the first and make them feel warm with gratefulness?

10. Ask your customers what they want

I recently read that Tesla is expanding its Supercharger network in North America, Europe, and Asia. But what I love most about that is that they are letting the public vote on where the next Superchargers will be, the most popular areas so far being Alaska, Hawaii, Vancouver Island in British Columbia, and in US national parks. Tesla, of course, is one of the Kings in CX, and this shows again how focused they are on what their customers really need. Instead of analyzing and deciding where they should best put the superchargers, they actively involve their customers with a poll.

So, that’s it! These are my 10 tips for improving your CX in sometimes drastic ways, without needing to spend major investments. I’m curious to know if you have tips of your own? Let me know over the socials!

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