Unfolding the concept of Customer Experience from stem to stern

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It was about our last week boardroom meeting when the sales department heads of the company were discussing strategies to increase their monthly closures. While much heat was thrown on the lead quality from the marketing department, the concern about the high pricing of product was also seen vividly.

As a response to the emerging questions, my CEO then said, the key strategy to increase your customer closures is to win them and not just sell them.

The marketing team might or might not be delivering qualified leads but your first hello to your prospect, your first email to them, they all have the maximum impact on the final decision of the buyer.

I know that discussions like these won’t be confined to my company, and your business meetings too would be encountering arguments like these. That is when, the decision-makers need to halt and re-think on the strategies that are implemented for raising their number of new customers, ensuring customer retention or obtaining higher referrals from the existing ones.

“The key strategy to increase your customer closures is to win them”. This sentence made me curious and research more about what could precisely be done that might assist businesses to win their customers.

The answer was ‘customer experience’. Better communication equals more conversion, this is what I learnt and this is what my further write up is about.

What is customer experience?

Customer experience (CX) can be defined as the customer’s journey with a brand at all touchpoints. That touchpoint can be through calls, or emails or website live chats. The touchpoint even covers the first marketing communication with the customer. It has a clearly defined beginning and end. Customer experience starts from the first time a brand name flashes in front of them and ends till they choose to leave the company.

It won’t be incorrect to say that customer experience is a comprehensive lego set of their various interactions with the business professionals. And if not anything else, customer experience is the way customers perceive their interactions with a company.

As technology is evolving, it is rapidly pushing the bar higher for more intuitive user-interactions and excellent customer experience.

However, a stellar customer experience depends on a lot of factors, but most importantly, it relies on a mutual sense of conviction within the organisation and intent to serve the customer, not just sell to them.

Why is Customer Experience imperative?

Businesses need to evaluate the fundamentals of customer interaction, as well as take the measures required to modify their business into a more customer-centric fashion and prepare it for optimal business growth.

The point of doing the same starts from a simple fact, research shows that 25 percent of customers defect after just one bad experience.

The most probable reason behind that is the fact that today, customers have unprecedented power to dictate the rules in purchasing goods and services. They have hundreds of readily available options in the market that could be an appropriate alternative to a specific product.

Let’s face it, we are living in a time where customers use comparison apps for each purchase they make and they believe online reviews as much they trust personal recommendations.

As a matter of fact, the benefit of working on your customer experience is two-fold and its a win-win situation.

Delivering an experience touches the customers and assures that they will keep doing business with you in the future, hence, you can be sure of repeated purchases from them. Customer experience is a crucial part of promoting brand loyalty, and the way you serve your consumers affects what they say about you afterwards.

Needless to say, word of mouth travels faster than your reactive actions. Allow me to quote another fact here, by 2020, the majority of purchase decisions will be made based on customer experience, not price.

So, considering your customer experience, it’s your brand reputation and probable recommendations from existing customers that are at stake.

Can you compromise on any one of them? Your choice. But should you? Definitely not.

Customer experience is an approach that keeps the customer, and not the organization in the centre. Certainly, the foremost challenge will be how to align the organization and move ahead, as well as inferring on where and how to get started.

Well, it starts with acknowledging the fact that its everyone’s job.

A recent report from Salesforce revealed that an extraordinary customer experience raises the bar for customer engagement – but what is the definition of an ‘extraordinary’ experience and how can one provide it?

Traits of a Superior Customer Experience

Ad-libbing the customer experience begins by seeing your organization from your customer’s point of view. Customers expect from all businesses in the market, the same level of service which primarily includes immediateness, personalization, and convenience. Something that the customers would have received from leading players like Google or Amazon.

Will the customers compromise on this? Unfortunately, no!

Talking about the big players, it’s been observed that behind their superior customer service, a major reason is their employees who are motivated and they embody the customer and brand promise in all their interactions with consumers.

Here, a key takeaway is that all the employees, especially the frontline ones, of any growth-focused and customer-centric company must be trained and equipped with certain required skills to ensure their best foot forward. Here are some of the most important traits that your customer service strategy should embrace:

1. Being accessible and available across platforms

Advances in technology over the years have added multiple channels to the list of customer communication modes. It’s imperative for companies to optimize all the popular customer-interaction mediums to the extent that it meets the important customer expectation,” don’t make me wait!”

The intent is clear, customers are changing and so must you.

Companies must meet customers wherever they are, whenever they need them on any device or through any medium. And meeting them means faster connectivity, along with a timely and satisfactory response.

2. Being personalized to the utmost extent

Many customer interactions curb simply because of receiving automated and rigid replies from the companies. The responses are pre-defined and aren’t moulded as per the requirement or history of the customer.

Customers seek personalization and awareness from the professional they are conversing with. And, hear me shouting when I say, merely including the first name is not personalization.
If the customer needs to fill a form with fifteen details, every time they inquire, it simply suggests that they are talking to a robot which has to be informed of the present and past situation everytime. Consequently, the future of your customer relationship will not look very bright.

3. Being responsive at the speed of light

Customers expect “now” level service immediately after making their first contact with the business. And they don’t expect an acknowledgement reply but a proper resolution of their query. This is why your customer-facing professionals must be well trained with the product knowledge and the probable challenges associated with it.

Essentially, being responsive entails understanding the problem, coming up with potential solutions, zeroing in on the best possible solution, and then doing what needs to be done or implementing the solution. If not doing anything above, at least, assuring them of a confirmed resolution at the earliest.

Having confused and inactive frontline employees only deteriorate the quality of your customer experience and brand reputation. No matter what, your customer service professionals should be able to close with a customer (end the conversation) with confirmed customer satisfaction.

4. Being humane – enough said!

The most important attribute of ensuring the high-grade customer experience is making your frontline employees as the“people person”. However, it is not a skill to learn but an inbuilt trait that your business professionals should possess and convey while dealing with the customers.

Anything that can beat fast service is a great service that requires the business professionals to be patient, mindful and attentive towards the customer’s problem and requirement. They should be empathetic and should feel the frustrations of the customers, hence, respond to them accordingly.

Talking about customer experience in the current scenario, you’re clearly late to the party if you think of it as an opulent. Your competitors (who are successful) have probably mastered their domain of customer experience, while you are still on the planning stage.

Customer experience today has become so relevant that should be as binding as any other important rule in the organisation, and the set of principles or customer experience standards should be floated across the organization, including the frontline employees, to guide their behaviour in the customer’s journey.

To put an end to it, pleasing customers by mastering the concept and execution of exceptionally well customer experience is a challenge. True customer experience means going beyond the expectation of the customers, every day. Your company needs to organize itself and mobilize its employees to deliver value to customers consistently, and be in line with the main purpose.

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