“The Customer Experience”. These three little words are the hot-ticket item everywhere from retail to telecommunications, land sales and beyond.
In a nutshell, the customer experience is the key element of whether a consumer will choose your business, stay with your business or recommend it to their peers.
So, here’s why the “customer experience” is the catchphrase every business should consider, every time they examine what’s happening in their operation now and what happens next.
The customer experience
Defined as “the product of an interaction between an organisation and a customer over the duration of their relationship”, the customer experience encompasses every interaction a customer has with your brand.
It is marketing, customer service, and the quality of products you offer. It is the initial conversation on the phone, the interactions people have with your staff and the follow-up and satisfaction you provide.
The customer experience is often broken down into three key elements:
- “the customer journey,
- the brand touchpoints the customer interacts with,
- the environments the customer experiences during their experience.
The customer journey
From the moment a potential client reaches your website, sees your ad, or hears about your business through others, the customer journey has begun. This initial interaction sets the bar of what potential clients believe your business has to offer. Now it’s down to you to ensure the promise equals the experience at every touchpoint along the way.
Every time a potential customer encounters your business it’s a touchpoint, and these can live up to, fail to meet or exceed the experience a consumer expects.
As a business it’s important to map out these touchpoints, breaking them down into a series of spheres.
Traditional touch points include:
- Word of mouth
- Social media
- Staff greeting/phone manner
- Premises location, look and feel (if applicable)
- Product range
- Price point
- Product quality
- Guarantees, warranties
- Customer loyalty
- Service and support
- Product installation or assistance
- Thank you cards
While it’s critical to examine the touchpoints along your customer journey, the most important factor is to work out whether what you promise ties in with what you provide. And these are the questions to ask…
- Is your message relevant and relatable?
- Does your business website, marketing and advertising tell a consistent story?
- Does your message reflect your business in the best possible light?
- What do you say you offer?
- Do you provide what you say you will?
- Are your staff aware of your promises? (As in your message, mission, vision and products)
- Are your staff trained to offer the best service? Do they know their role, your products and does their image correlate with your brand ethos?
- Have you given them the tools they need (process and procedures) to reflect your business in the best light?
- Is your service what you promise?
- Does your product meet the description?
- How do you gauge customer satisfaction?
- What is the resounding response of reviews or feedback?
- What is the ratio of repeat clientele?
- Do you know how you get customers? (Is it recommendation, advertising, repeat clientele or all of the above?)
And the cycle continues. But only when the customer experience meets or exceeds their expectations will your business truly grow.