The old saying goes, “The customer is always right.” Whether that’s true or not, customers make or break your business. Providing the best customer experience is one of the keys to building trust and creating lifelong business relationships. For example, poor customer service will drive away customers, and it’s a big mistake to think that average customer service will get you anywhere either. Here are 5 ways to enhance the customer experience to help you stand out from your competition:
1. Have a customer experience plan
Successful businesses put plans and procedures in place as guides to accomplish their objectives. It all starts with identifying who your customers are and what kind of experience you want them to have.
Think of your customer experience plan as a roadmap you want customers to follow, from the first contact until they make a purchase (and beyond). It’s not just the stops along the way, either. You also want to identify why your customer should move from point to point and why each step of the customer journey exists.
2. Set goals and have clear expectations
It’s not enough to have a customer experience plan. You also need to set goals and provide expectations of what success looks like within your organization. Without clarity and defined goals, your staff won’t know if they provide the caliber of customer experience you want for your organization.
Set clear, attainable goals, and then set your employees up for success to meet those goals. Over-communicate the goals often. The more you communicate your company goals, especially in terms of customer satisfaction, the more likely your employees will make reaching goals a priority. If company goals aren’t a priority to you, they won’t be to your employees either. Communicate overall goals and create specific goals and expectations for each company position so your employees can understand their role in the customer experience process.
3. Hire the right people
No amount of communication can make up for people you hire who don’t care about your customers. Your employees are on the front lines, dealing directly with customers. They are often one of the first human touchpoints that your customers will have with your brand. Providing an excellent customer experience through customer support requires empathy for customers and often an understanding of how to communicate, solve problems quickly, and add a personal touch as needed.
Hire individuals with people skills and that are customer-focused. They will provide the kind of support and personal touch your customers need. It’s worth being picky to make sure you have the best possible staff interacting with customers daily. If the job role requires dealing with customers, it’s worth finding the right person who can deliver when it counts.
4. Train your employees
Nobody understands your company better than you. If you want your employees to understand the company mission, the goals you’ve set, and the customer experience you wish to provide, you need to provide adequate training that focuses on those ideas.
Create a training program that addresses your customer’s needs and pain points and how you want them to handle specific situations. It’s a good idea to include ways to stay positive and show empathy even during difficult situations. There should also be training on handling challenging situations where they may need extra help from other employees or management.
5. Create a customer feedback system
To completely understand your customers and their experience dealing with your company, you need to implement a system to receive customer feedback. You can design your own system or buy customer feedback tools. Knowing how your customer feels after making a purchase will help guide your process and how you can improve customer service for your clientele.
Use customer surveys, social media, and your company website to connect with customers and provide an opportunity to share feedback directly with your company. If they provide contact information, follow up with a thank you and address any situations they shared with you.
No system is perfect so expect to receive negative feedback. That’s ok. That’s often better than receiving no input because it allows you to understand what went wrong and how to improve customer experience going forward. Having a system will enable you to share customer concerns with your staff to correct any issues and brainstorm ways to provide a better experience.
Your customers can be your biggest cheerleaders or your worst critic. Making the customer experience a priority within your company will motivate your employees to provide the best service and will keep customers coming back time and time again. Help your employees understand the how and the why behind your customer experience plan and champion the process constantly to ensure everyone is on the same page. Your customers will appreciate the thoughtfulness and extra touches you provide.