Anyone who has subscribed to multiple streaming services can appreciate the varied experiences involved in navigating each of them. Some are convenient, while others are a bit more complicated. Most consumers gravitate to convenience. The same holds true for business-to-business commerce. A positive experience helps to retain customers and promote loyalty. A negative experience steers them toward the numerous alternatives available to them.
Many businesses are devoting renewed attention to Customer Experience (CX), applying distinct metrics and methodologies to gauge performance. Yet the imperative to please customers is as old as business itself. No longer are merely revenues at stake, but also how customers feel about their interactions and if they would recommend the business to a colleague or acquaintance.
The technologies we use in our personal lives such as smartphones, streaming channels, and e-commerce sites have evolved since they were launched. They are intuitive, faster, and user-friendly. According to a recent survey by Acquia, 90% of consumers feel that brands fall short of expectations for a convenient experience online. It’s about time product companies rethink their strategy.
First, a business needs to build an outstanding listening program, beginning with an audit of existing efforts to gather customer feedback. An audit will help to uncover meaningful insights, potential gaps, and collaborative opportunities.
Next, a business should consider the entire journey of its customers’ interaction with its products, solutions, and people. Solicited feedback may not reveal the full picture. But the unsolicited variety might! Social media is a great place to observe what’s on the minds of customers.
Make That Investment
With the availability of free software applications, investing in resources such as CX professionals, training, and digital tools can go a long way toward shaping a listening program. A customer looking to provide feedback should have multiple options. CX professionals, in turn, play a crucial role in analyzing the responses and driving actions that make a difference for customers. Invest in developing these skills, and expect higher returns in terms of data, expertise, and ideas.
Commitment from Leadership
Every leader needs to align with the customer experience strategy and, just as importantly, instill it throughout the business. To sharpen an organization’s focus on CX, leaders should directly tie experience strategy to corporate strategy. When businesses prioritize the needs of customers, including that for convenience and ease of use, revenues quickly follow. An excellent example is Amazon. Jeff Bezos has ingrained his legendary focus on customer obsession throughout the company, leading to a trillion-dollar success!
Make Your People Aware
Never assume that your employees fully grasp your company’s customer experience strategy — or their role in it. Although the leader’s voice carries great weight, the CX team should evangelize the strategy’s purpose, goals and tactics. Establish mandatory learning sessions, set a customer-centric voice and tone in internal communications, and share success stories of employees demonstrating customer-centric behaviors. Making meaningful changes to existing initiatives can drive employees to align with the strategy and embrace a “Customer First” outlook.
Move Beyond Surveys
Net Promoter Scores are vital for assessing where a business stands with customers. When approaching a customer with a survey, do so with the willingness to change. That openness will engender trust, increase response rates, and reinforce customer happiness. Implementing Voice of The Customers is a great starting point to incorporate customer feedback into an organization’s products and services to boost Net Promoter Scores. Creating Advisory Boards of customers and partners is another way of gathering insights from individuals who have the organization’s best interests in mind. Finally, listen attentively to employees who have customer-facing roles. Who better than front-line employees to capture feedback that leadership can sometimes miss?
One of the most common mistakes businesses make with customer experience programs is targeting a specific persona for feedback. Targeting multiple personas underscores the fact that different personas pursue different journeys. What some customers prefer may not be unanimous. It helps to narrow the focus to issues that require attention most acutely.
An effective CX listening program does not stop at gathering feedback. Read every comment and understand the sentiments behind them. This is where investment in a dedicated CX team makes a difference. With the right tools and expertise, they can drill down into each comment, categorize the issues, and collaborate with respective functions to drive actions.
Close the Loop
When cultivating customer relationships, closing the loop is critical. Failing to maintain constant communication defeats the purpose of CX. If a resolution to a problem takes longer than anticipated, let the customer know. Equip account managers with enablement materials and customer-facing communications and set clear expectations for performance.
Reward a Customer
If a customer’s feedback makes a positive difference, recognize them. A simple thank-you note goes a long way toward firming up the relationship and enhancing trust. Letting them know how valuable their feedback is will keep them coming back.
Customer experience is here to stay. It’s time to move away from silos by implementing a seamless customer experience program, driving the customer-centricity message through every initiative and interaction. Make CX the central theme of decision-making and part of employees’ Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). You’ll be amazed at what you learn about your own organization.
Find out how your customer experience compares
Take this free 20-question assessment to evaluate your customer experience (CX) maturity level and performance. You’ll receive a customized report on your program’s strengths and weaknesses, along with guidance based on proven success.