Customers have limitless options, but people still crave a great customer experience, and they’re willing to pay extra for it. In a competitive and challenging marketplace, offering a stand-out customer experience is your best chance to differentiate yourself from the crowd.
Business leaders know this, which is why “customer experience” is a major buzzword today. But too many companies claim to be customer-first without delivering on this commitment. They forget that the customer experience includes every touchpoint on the customer journey, and it therefore takes the effort of everyone at your company to make it a reality.
Some companies have an account management team that handles the customer experience. These teams often rely on metrics like Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) and Customer Effort Score (CES) to measure their progress. When only one team is responsible for CX and they’re relying on high-level metrics, companies aren’t getting the full picture. Quantitative metrics are helpful, but if you’re relying on numbers to gauge the customer experience, you’re missing many pieces of the puzzle. Reading customer reviews and comments provides the valuable insight companies need. It offers the full picture into customer experience that many companies aren’t seeing.
Negative Comments Are an Opportunity
Let’s face it: reading customer reviews and comments can be downright painful at times. But it’s the best way to understand the tone and nuances in their feedback, which are important elements you won’t get from summarized survey data. As a business owner myself, I start every morning by reading anywhere from 100 to 1,000 pieces of customer feedback, whether positive or negative, from surveys, support tickets, social media posts, employee exit interviews, etc. I follow this with regular calls with customers and I look forward to hearing from customers in-person post pandemic at tradeshows and other events.
It’s typically an overwhelmingly positive and uplifting experience. But there are times when you have to hear something hard, that challenges you, and makes you rethink your approach. I have learned to view even the negative comments in a positive light because they’re a guidebook for customer pain points and a signpost to opportunities. Negative feedback provides clarity on the ways you can improve, so instead of letting unflattering comments create frustration, use them as your source of innovation.
What Customers Really Want
Customer experience isn’t just about them being happy with the product or price, though obviously those two factors are important. It’s about every interaction customers have with your company.
That desire for personal experiences has fueled the boom in small-batch, artisan, bespoke and craft products of all types over the past several years. Customers are longing for personal connections from the companies they patronize. An Etsy shop owner or local brew master can offer a personal, authentic customer experience naturally because they’re typically dealing with a small pool of consumers. It’s more difficult to provide a personal touch and authenticity at scale, but to deliver a great customer experience every time, you have to find a way to keep customers coming back. It takes a realization that the entire experience has to be optimized.
The Path to Scaling: Customer Experience Automation
Traditionally companies might try to find this scale through marketing automation or CRM tools, but no matter how these tools are used it’s hard to scale with the type of personal touches that can happen when you’re engaging 1:1. We know it’s possible, as we see with big brands like Netflix, Amazon, Peloton, and Zappos, but technology wasn’t providing what SMBs needed to create this personalization at scale.
That’s where customer experience automation can help — streamlining the right processes to create more time for you and your team to spend on high-value customer engagement. With customer experience automation, brands of all sizes can leverage their customer data to create an ongoing dialogue that’s unique to every customer, allowing for an experience that is as good or better than what they received when the company was able to service every customer one at a time.
In a time where companies are making major pivots and experiencing downturn, improving the customer experience is a must. It may not be the first thought for companies that are looking to cut costs, but given the value it adds it ought to be at the top of the list. Making the customer experience center stage and responding to shifting customer needs will allow companies to adjust their strategy appropriately and craft a unique identity that differentiates themselves from competitors.