In 2021 it’s fair to say that almost every conceivable business idea has been attempted at least once, and even products and services that were once considered niche are becoming more mainstream. Never before have consumer markets been packed quite so full of competition, so standing out from the crowd and differentiating your business is more difficult than ever. Where it’s tricky to make a distinction between products or services offered in a market, there’s still one piece of ammunition a business can use to gain the upper hand and mark out a clear competitive advantage: customer experience.
Even as the world moves to greater digitalization of products, services, events, and general lifestyle, people still crave the human touch and regard good service as a positive business aspect. But how do you offer a ‘customer experience’ that your competitors can’t when they’ve successfully nailed the service they offer? Read on for some easily achievable tips and tricks to impress even the most hardened and cynical of consumers.
What Does the Phrase ‘Customer Experience’ Mean?
The term ‘Customer Experience’ may conjure up images of a customer in a traditional bricks-and-mortar shop receiving bespoke service from a retail assistant, or waiting for a call back from an online retailer to arrange a refund when something’s gone wrong. In actual fact, customer experience is more all-encompassing than this and includes every experience received by a customer through all their interaction with a business — combining into an overall perception. Put simply, this is the impression of the business that the customer holds based on their interactions with it through the pre-purchase, purchase, consumption, and pre-purchase stages.
Customer Experience Tip #1: Know Your Customer – Even If They Haven’t Bought from You Yet
It goes without saying that every business should know their target market and ideal customer – but when we say that, just what do we mean by ‘know’? In reality, businesses should gather as much data as ethically possible in order to best understand their customer base – even potential customers who have yet to make a purchase. Understanding consumer demographics and monitoring buying behaviors should feed into a wider piece of work that allows businesses to learn the ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘where’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ of their customers, so that they can respond to them appropriately. And Forbes states, ‘for any business endeavor, it is first essential to know your customers’.
Customer Experience Tip #2: Make Company Culture Customer-centric
Internal company culture is defined as the shared values, attributes, and characteristics of a workforce. Carefully curated to maintain a happy, healthy working environment, company culture can be built in a way that puts the customer at the heart of everything an employee does. This includes a customer experience-related metric in the targets for everyone in the business, no matter their direct or indirect input. This encourages an increased customer focus and gives incentive for people to really care about how the end-user feels about the brand.
Customer Experience Tip #3: Help Customers Build Success
If a business wishes to build up a loyal repeat customer base, it is not enough just to sell to customers and end the relationship at the transaction. Instead, opportunities should be sought to add value where possible, particularly in the use of a product or service. Using opportunities to educate customers in how to use the product/s or services, or on related relevant topics, can be hugely beneficial to the consumer, as well as help to assert brand position as an industry expert and thought leader. Blogs, articles, and tutorial videos all enhance the customer experience, even if they don’t result in direct sales or another call to action.
Customer Experience Tip #4: Stay Human
In a world where so much is done online and we’ve been estranged from one another for so long, allowing the human touch to shine through in service can give a real advantage. Ensure that staff use their real names and offer a personalized greeting to customers where possible. Encourage friendly ‘small talk’ and allow for time to be taken on each customer interaction. Empowering employees to go the extra mile for customers and to surprise and delight them with not just ‘good’ but ‘great’ service will always create a positive outcome. Equally, where things go wrong, don’t be afraid to apologize, explain and connect on a human level – everyone makes mistakes and everyone ‘gets’ that but owning up to it and allowing a proper human discussion about it rarely happens and can be refreshing.
When businesses work with, and not just for, their customers, great things happen. Viewing customer experience as everyone’s responsibility is a gamechanger — with no one hating the player, or the game.
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