The world of business has changed, ushering in a newly found focus on the customer. Today, a customer-centric business plan is the norm for most thriving companies.
Customer centricity is the approach of building a consistently pleasant experience for your customer at every touchpoint. This approach has brought forth the use of the flywheel methodology as a means to delight customers, and it has come to shape an important framework in current business landscapes.
In order to keep up with the times and ensure the success of your business, you’ll need to wholeheartedly adopt customer centricity and the flywheel approach.
But to fully maximize the value of your flywheel, you’ll need a customer experience strategy.
What Is Customer Experience?
There’s a little more to defining customer experience than you might initially think. It’s not just the experience you create for your customer – customer experience is more focused on the impression your customer feels as they move throughout their buyer journey with your company.
These impressions are often emotional experiences and can create feelings that are then associated with your brand. With this in mind, you obviously only want positive feelings associated with your company!
But to pull this off, you’ll need to provide a consistently positive customer experience and ensure that you're building strong customer relationships.
There are two primary touchpoints to consider when building the customer experience: people and products.
- Customers look at the performance of your products and services, hoping to be wowed.
- They also assess your people – the reps who provide support and set them up for success.
When you focus on these factors, you can determine exactly what a great customer experience looks like.
Why Does Customer Experience Matter?
The customer experience that you deliver to your audience can have a monumental impact on the success of your business. For starters, a great client experience is central to maintaining a good customer retention rate.
It also leads to more referrals and word of mouth exposure. Why is this important, you ask? Research has found that recommendations from friends are seen as the most credible form of advertising. People trust brands that are trusted and recommended by their friends.
Creating a great customer experience can also lead to an influx of positive customer reviews, which also goes a long way in attracting new prospects. People are more likely to choose a company with shining reviews than a company with scathing ones.
Finally, good experiences encourage customers to foster a stronger sense of brand loyalty.
Turning customers into vocal advocates is a big accomplishment, and it can have huge benefits for your company, as it ties in closely with those referrals and word of mouth traffic. There’s nothing better for your business than having lots of people sing your praises.
Customer Experience Vs. Customer Service
It’s important to note that customer experience and customer service are not interchangeable terms. Service is just one important component of the customer experience. Good customer service is a driving force in laying the foundation for a positive experience.
For example, if your customer orders your product, and you deliver it faster than expected for no charge and include a few free bonus items in the box, that is an awesome example of customer service.
This adds to a positive overall experience.
However, if your product arrives later than expected, that detracts from the customer experience, though it does not entirely make for an overall negative experience.
Other important aspects that contribute to an awesome experience include:
All customers like a good loyalty incentive, especially from the brands they love.
A loyalty incentive is when you provide a reward or discount for repeat business for a customer. Many companies (especially retail companies!) offer rewards cards in which you can rack up points and earn discounts on future purchases.
However, it can be something as simple as sending your customers a coupon for their second or third purchases.
Consistency is one of the most important elements of providing a positive client experience. Customers want to know that they can rely on you to provide quality products and services at all times.
When their expectations are set and met every time, and they always walk away with a smile on their face – now that’s a great customer experience.
On the other end of the spectrum, inconsistency of deliverables is a quick and easy way to drive customers away.
Quite simply, your products are one of the biggest draws for customers, so if they’re not of high quality, you’ll probably see sales drop. Customers want products that fill their needs and are made to last.
If your products are lacking in features or break easily, you’ll likely end up with a big crowd of unhappy customers.
It’s important to make sure that the face of your brand matches what’s on the inside.
We’ve all heard that phrase “beautiful inside and out.” It’s great to have a kickass marketing campaign, but if it doesn’t reflect what’s really going on behind the wheel of your company, then your customers will quickly catch on, and they won’t be impressed.
A Human Element
In case it wasn’t already glaringly obvious, people don’t like being treated like numbers. Creating an experience that acknowledges the person as a human being, and treating them as such, will make your customers feel more valued.
Remember, each customer you interact with is a uniquely different individual, and that’s how they want to be treated.
6 Quick Changes to Improve Your Existing Customer Experience
The good news is that if you want to improve your existing customer experience, you don’t need to undergo a massive overhaul of your current process. In fact, there are plenty of quick wins waiting to be had.
Here are six quick and easy ways to enhance customer experience at your company.
1. Establish Analytics.
There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes of providing a great client experience, and establishing analytics to track is definitely one of them.
In order to provide the best customer experience possible, you first need to understand your audience. One of the best ways to do this is by setting up metrics to track their behaviors and habits, so you can develop products and offer service that respond accordingly.
2. Give Free Stuff Away.
Giving away a little bit of free branded swag is great, but what’s even better is offering something substantial to your audience at no cost for them. This often takes the form of informational materials and useful tools that your target audience will find value in.
3. Improve Digital Channels.
One of the best ways to please your customers is by providing a user friendly digital experience for them.
This means everything from your website design to the forms you ask them to fill out as they subscribe to your blog, download an ebook, or send an inquiry.
Additionally, your digital channels can also be improved by utilizing chatbots and live chat functions on your website. Chatbots are a great method through which it makes it easy to deliver educational resources and answer simple inquiries quickly.
Live chat is another rising feature that customers love, as it allows them quick, easy, and direct access to your team. In fact, 54 percent of customers prefer to talk to representatives through live chat than email.
So why not give the people what they want?
4. Provide a Personalized Experience.
The more personalized you can make each and every customer experience, the better.
People love to feel like their buying experience is tailored specifically to them, as it makes the products and services feel more directly relevant to their needs, and they feel more valued overall.
There’s a number of ways you can do this.
One great way to start is simply by sending an email that was written by an actual human, rather than from a template pulled out of a folder with the customer’s name slapped on it. Touch upon specific details that are personal to the customer, and this will show that you really pay attention.
Another fun way to do this is by personalizing packaging of products. If you’re a good sales and service professional, then you’ve probably learned a little bit about the customer throughout their buyer’s journey.
Write the customer a little note to include with the packaging, even if it’s just a quick joke – it shows care and reminds them that a real human sent their goods.
5. Gather and Listen to Customer Feedback.
There’s arguably no better way to improve your products and services than by actively listening to customer feedback and adjusting accordingly.
Take each and every customer comment into consideration, and look for trends throughout them that can pave a pathway for improvements.
If multiple customers are complaining that your product breaks after three months, then you may want to look into how to build your products to withstand the test of time to better please your customers.
6. Empower Your Team With a Searchable Knowledgebase.
A knowledgebase that holds all the information about the features and functions of the products and services you provide is an incredibly valuable resource for your entire company.
It creates one centralized resource for all of your team members to turn to, whether it’s a new hire who needs to be caught up to speed on all that your company offers or a veteran who simply needs to confirm the answer to a customer question.
Simply put, it’s a guide in which everyone can refer back to in order to get their questions answers, and it saves a ton of time and effort for your employees and your customers.
5 Ways to Build Your First Customer Experience Strategy
Your customer experience strategy is your best bet for supporting and delighting your customers at every interaction.
But if you’re new to customer centricity and you need to build your client experience strategy from the ground up, then you might need a little help. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
Check out these five ways to build your customer experience strategy:
1. Map Customer Experience Strategy Goals to Business Objectives.
It’s important to align your customer experience strategy goals with your business objectives.
For example, if one of your objectives is to generate more website traffic, then your experience strategy goal should probably focus on developing a user-friendly website.
If one of your key objectives is to boost your customer retention rate, then one of your strategy goals should focus on improving the service provided by your team.
Consider what you want to achieve and how you can improve the customer experience to get there.
2. Showcase Your Brand’s Unique Personality.
Brand identity is everything – it’s what makes you unique and stand out from the crowd. And when customer’s buy from you, they adopt that identity.
This is what happens when photographers say that they’re a “Nikon person” or a “Canon person.” It’s the differentiation between Nike athletes and Adidas athletes, the difference between Starbucks drinkers and Dunkin' Donuts loyalists.
It’s not just about your brand’s personality, it’s about your target audience’s personality. Who are you targeting, and how can you shape your brand’s personality to supplement and enhance their lifestyle?
3. Build a Customer Journey Map.
A customer journey map essentially encompasses every point of contact and interaction a customer has with your brand during their life cycle, from initial contact, to purchase conversion, and through to possible retention or exit.
Customer journey maps will vary based on your goals, buyer personas (you do have buyer personas, don’t you?) and a set of individual KPIs.
They’re important to have, because they allow you to identify any potential weak links throughout your marketing, sales, and service processes, and where you might be losing leads and customers along the way. With these issues identified, you can work on fixing them!
4. Listen to Your Employees.
Nobody knows your customers better than the people who work with them directly.
From their hands-on experience, your team has likely developed a strong understanding of what the customer wants, and how to make them happy. Talk to your staff about any trends that they notice within the customer experience and satisfaction.
For example, is your sales team picking up on a key resource that customers are asking for, but that you don’t provide? Has your service team noted one kind of consistent complaint is being made about your products?
Make sure to really listen to your employees and take their comments into consideration when you’re trying to implement improvements into your processes.
5. Develop a Robust Training Framework.
In order for your company to deliver a positive customer experience as a whole unit, each individual member of your team needs to be trained to do so.
Developing a fully fleshed out training program for your staff, regardless of whether they’re in marketing, sales, or service, will help build a complete, consistent experience that reflects the quality of your brand.
Transform the Customer Experience, Transform the Vision of Your Brand
With the right customer experience strategy in place, you can transform the way your current customers and prospects see and feel when they think of your brand.
Remember, the flywheel approach and customer-centric service are all a part of a much bigger picture – providing the best, most personal experience possible.
Building an impactful, positive client experience will drive home the power of brand loyalty and ultimately shape the way the greater public views your brand as a whole, determining how your company moves forward into the future or gets left behind in the dust.