There was a time not long ago when providing exceptional in-person customer service was the key to keeping customers coming back. Potential buyers could talk to a real person on the phone or in the store to get the information they needed to make a purchase. After the sale, customers typically expected to receive quality support with follow-up phone calls or visits.
While providing high-quality in-person service is still a top priority, it is no longer enough. Nowadays, brands need a solid strategy for addressing the entire customer experience (CX). Concern for every touchpoint between customers and your product is the new key to business success.
Many aspects of the customer experience are obvious. Did an employee answer a customer’s question about a product? Did we ask the customer what they thought of our widget?
If total CX has the power to make or break your business — and it does — you won’t want to overlook any customer touchpoints. Here are five important ones you might not be thinking about.
1. Technology, Data, and Analysis
Admittedly, this CX factor lacks the warm, feel-good appeal of in-person customer interaction. Nonetheless, a customer-centric implementation of IT will be critical for providing the insights you need to design the optimal experience. Smart IT choices don’t cost, they pay — and are well worth the investment of company resources.
A small business using a network cobbled together out of switches and routers is going to hit a wall sooner or later. In today’s CX environment, they’d do well to convert that old network to a business intelligence platform using solutions such as Plume WorkPass. A well-designed platform will give the small business owner full control of the network and unfettered access to meaningful data from any location.
Your objective is to gather actionable data about customer preferences, the channels your employees use to engage consumers, and overall satisfaction on both ends. Set about deconstructing any silos that may have built up over time. You’ll want to house your data and business solutions in a single, secure structure and be able to access these resources in real time.
Technology has evolved to the point where nearly every point of contact with a potential customer generates usable information. A robust business intelligence platform allows you to collect, analyze, and leverage relevant information where it’s most needed for your business. Without solid data, you’re forcing your customers and your staff to make uninformed choices.
2. Interaction Strategy
Do you have a written strategy for how you interact with customers, or are you winging it? In an environment where businesses need to optimize every customer interaction, an ad hoc approach will no longer suffice.
Your interaction strategy will include selecting the best communication channels for delivering relevant messaging to the appropriate audience at the right time. Does your system address response time, convey congeniality, offer convenience, and set realistic customer expectations?
Once your marketing and sales teams design a data-driven interaction strategy, take a critical look at it through the eyes of your customers. Does the channel/messaging/audience alignment make sense from their perspective? If not, adjust.
There are countless communication channels you can use to engage and interact with your customers. Be judicious in your choices. You will want to make sure your strategy is designed with a customer-first focus across every single one of them.
3. CX-Focused Organizational Structure
The structure of your business intelligence platform is important, but so is the structure of your business organization. Your staff, stakeholders, and processes should all be aligned with your company’s CX goals.
When a customer-centric approach permeates your business DNA, even your human resources department — which typically has no customer contact — can benefit. Giving HR staff access to your business intelligence platform helps them better understand the needs of your customers. This knowledge, in turn, can help them make better decisions as to how they recruit, reward, and retain employees.
For your business to succeed, every employee at every level needs to adopt a customer-centric focus. When all roles heed the voice of the customer, you’ll increase operational efficiencies and decrease the effort required to deliver a phenomenal CX experience.
It’s far easier for marketing and sales to set customer experience goals than it is for IT or HR departments. This handicap can be addressed by assigning one person in every department to bear primary responsibility for instilling CX goals into its operations. Over time, customer-centric thinking will come naturally to everyone.
4. Measurable Goals to Determine CX Success
Every strategy for your business should have not only a corresponding goal, but a measurable one. Implementing a high-quality CX is no exception.
There are five categories of metrics you can use to measure success using data collected and analyzed by your business intelligence platform:
1. Customer satisfaction
2. Customer loyalty, retention, and churn
3. Advocacy, reputation, and brand
4. Product quality
5. Employee engagement
Focusing on the preceding three CX factors should provide the information you need to implement these five metrics. If your business intelligence platform is not collecting and analyzing data to measure these metrics, it’s time to upgrade.
Customer surveys, product reviews, social media likes/follows/comments, tracking of interactions, product performance, and sales are all relevant data. But gathering data is pointless unless it is analyzed and applied to strategies. Decision makers at all levels need access to CX information and strong encouragement to use it routinely.
5. Universal CX
One of the most obvious yet overlooked CX insights is the fact that we are all consumers who appreciate a remarkable customer experience. Think about a product or service you purchased recently. What was your experience? Ask yourself a few questions:
– How satisfied was I with the product?
– What channels has the company used to communicate with me?
– What channels have I used to talk about the product?
– What messaging attracted me to the product?
– What research did I do before I chose it?
– Am I thinking about buying a similar or related product from another company?
– How did I get my questions answered about the product?
– Would I buy a product from the same company again?
This list of questions could go on, but you get the idea. The customers who interact with our company want the same things we do. They are not exotic. They are us.
Apply what you look for in a customer experience to your company’s strategy. Pay special attention to the “best practices” of other companies that delighted you. Viewing your own CX performance through the eyes of a consumer really isn’t that difficult.
Creating a remarkable CX involves a lot of moving parts. Make sure you don’t overlook key factors that can make or break your delivery. If everything you do is customer-centric, your company can’t help but provide a good customer experience. You’ll also have happier employees, and that, too, will bring customers back again and again.
Image credit: Pixabay; VinzentWeinbeer