Customer experience, by definition, is the sum of every interaction a business has with their customer: everything from customer acquisition to post-sale support.
It’s what defines a customer’s attitude towards a brand, and the nature of their relationship in the future.
As such, it shouldn’t be surprising that have a good customer experience can be very beneficial for the company. A satisfied customer is a loyal customer: a lot more likely to stick with you and tell their friends about your business.
Benefits of Customer Experience
Remember the last time you were dissatisfied with a service.
You went to a restaurant that you’d heard praise of but ended up very disappointed. The servers ignored you for half an hour, the food was late (and cold), and the management seemed uncaring towards your complaints.
That’s bad customer experience, and it’s a very steady way to bad Yelp reviews and bankruptcy.
On the other side of the coin, you’ll always remember a restaurant where the servers were very apologetic for being late, offered a free dessert, and gave you a discount on the next visit.
While there are some things outside of your businesses control, a good customer experience will let you overcome them.
As you’ve probably figured out, a good customer experience strategy comes with a lot of benefits:
- Increased Customer Retention
- A good experience leads to repeat business. If your customer liked the experience, they’re a lot more likely to come back.
- The Power of Referrals and Word of Mouth
- Lower Churn
- There’s this one thing unsatisfied clients tend to do: leave you forever for your competitor’s product. Having a good customer experience strategy keeps them happy, however, and a lot less likely to leave.
- Brand Loyalty
- You’ve probably heard of Apple (probably. just probably) – you probably even own a couple of their products. What you’re probably unaware of, however, is that most of their products are charged a lot more than those of their competitors. They can afford it, however, as the experience of buying or owning an Apple product makes up for it.
So you’re probably wondering, how do I create a good customer experience?
Step #1: Start from the Customer
This one’s a bit obvious, but a lot of business owners tend to forget that: different people have different values and enjoy different experiences.
What might seem like a value deal for you, might be a major disappointment to someone else. If you’re a 40-something accountant selling to trendy teenagers, getting in their shoes may prove to be a tad challenging.
So, the first step in creating an engaging customer experience is figuring out what, exactly is a good customer experience for your target market – and the best way to do that is by creating a customer persona.
To do that, you need to categorize your ideal customer in demographics:
- Name / Last name
- Personality [what type of a person is the customer. achiever? cynic? etc.]
- Values [what do they value? environment? family-values? etc.]
- Interests [what do they do on a Friday night? what sports do they play? etc.]
- Lifestyle [how do they live? always working? traveling? etc.]
The persona has to be as “real” and detailed as anyone who walks into your restaurant or downloads your app.
So, for the sake of an example, let’s say, Tom, a 17-year-old skater, is your persona.
He lives in a suburban neighborhood, is from a middle-class family, and is a huge fan of social media.
If you want to tell to Tom, you’d need to look at what he values. Then, tailor your product around that. If you’re using social media channels to promote your product, for example, you’d consider using Snapchat over Facebook, as it’s a lot more relevant to your target market.
Once you have your persona down, you need to keep it in mind when designing every part of the customer experience.
To get a good idea of how a customer persona can look, here’s an example from Buyer Persona Institute.
For more information on customer personas, check out this guide by Buffer.
Step #2: Create a Customer-First Culture
As much as you, a business owner (probably), want to create a stellar customer experience, it’s going to be impossible without the right team.
No matter how many times you try to get your customer support team to go on a limb for the customer, they’re going to go back to their default behavior the moment you look away.
This might get you very trigger-happy when it comes to firing, but that won’t really help all too much. The fact that you got the person to work there in the first place means that it might happen again unless you change something.
And that something is your company culture. Well, the term itself has been a bit of a buzzword for the past few years, it doesn’t make it any less essential.
Company culture, in a nutshell, is the “spirit” of the company. The mission statement, the values of the employees, the way coworkers treat each other, and so on.
So how does that relate to creating a stellar customer experience? Well, you’ll need to establish customer-oriented values in the company.
As in, you, personally, should start treating your current employees the way you’d treat your customers. Then, for most roles, you need to try hiring people who are interested in working for YOUR company, specifically.
If you do have the right team to carry out the vision, you can start designing your customer experience.
Step #3: Create Engaging Customer Experience
As we’ve mentioned before, “customer experience” is the entire experience a customer has with your business.
To make sure it’s stellar, you need to go through the “process” step by step and make the entire experience engaging.
Stage 1: Customer Acquisition / Awareness stage
Depending on the type of business, you’re either actively going after potential customers, or the customers find you (brick and mortar store, for example).
The later doesn’t really provide much customer experience in this stage (the only thing here is for the customer not to find you based on a second-hand tale on how horrible your business is), so we’ll focus on the first.
If you’re deliberately getting in touch with your customers, you need to keep in mind the following:
- Don’t be pushy. You don’t want to be THAT sales guy who keeps calling after 20 rejections. Do everything you can to get the sale, but if it fails, don’t beg the customer to death. Bad Yelp review lies that way.
- Create real expectations. This one’s pretty straightforward – don’t tell your customer that your product is the best thing that’s ever happened and that it’s going to completely change their life. If you upsell the product too much, the customer will end up being disappointed.
- Make the customer feel human. Don’t be the used-car salesman. No one likes used-car salesmen. When interacting with potential customers, always treat them human. Make them relate to you, give them a sense of connection, and you’re gold – they associate a good relationship with you to a good relation with your company.
For more information on customer acquisition, check out our article on client onboarding. Or, you can also make the whole process a lot easier by using the Tallyfy software to streamline the entire process.
Stage 2: The Product / Service Value
Once you manage to land the client comes the most important part of creating an engaging customer experience:
Delivering on the promises for your product or service by creating value.
Again, this is different on the basis of whether you’re a product or service business, so we’ll go through each of the options.
As a given, your product has to be of very high quality. If it’s not, there’s no way your customers are going to be happy about it. Unless, of course, the product being bad IS the main thing about the product. Cards Against Humanity, for example, sold nothing for 5$ on Black Friday in 2015.
And that was after warning the customers that they will, indeed, get nothing for their money.
You’re probably not cards against humanity, however, and probably won’t be selling literally anything. So, you need to focus on creating real value with your product.
Product value, of course, varies case by case. To create value in that department, you’ll need to do a lot of research. Creating value for product delivery, however, can be summed up in best-practices:
- Add icing on the cake. Everyone loves free stuff, coupons, anything along those lines. The value of the item doesn’t matter as much – it’s the gesture that counts. So, add a free “bonus” to your product – everyone loves that free dessert.
- Offer different product delivery options. Falling in love a product, but then realizing that the delivery option doesn’t work for you, can be a real deal-breaker. Try to offer as many ways to get the product as possible. Thatinvolveolves delivery, payment methods, payment plans and so on.
- Create a unique offering. Look at what your competition does and how much they charge. Then, create something bigger, better and cheaper.
- Make the product “look good.” While functionality is always sought-after, what a lot of people really appreciate is the aesthetics. Don’t neglect the design aspect of your product. For a physical product, this could mean packaging. For a SaaS platform, it’s UX/UI.
Providing a quality service is a bit more standard. What applies to your everyday restaurant also applies to the service quality of a multi-million dollar company.
- Treat people like people. Everyone knows that the customer is the lifeline of a business. Not a lot of people, however, respect that. Make sure your support team puts the customer first – even if they’re in the wrong.
- Be timely and professional. Regardless of whether you’re a server in a restaurant or a consultant making 6 figures, you need to always act professionally towards your clients. Meaning, maintaining courtesy, professionalism, keeping up deadlines, etc.
- Listen first. One of the most important skills is the ability to really listen. Instead of making an assumption for your customers, understand what they want, and deliver accordingly.
- Ask and act on feedback. You might think you have the best customer service in the world – and hey, you might even be right. Your customers, however, might not agree. The best way to check that is to ask for real feedback. When given feedback, however, you must always act on it, and never get defensive about it.
Stage 3: Post-Sale Support
It’s a popular misconception that once the sale is done, you’re gold – you managed to ditch the product and get the money.
That road, however, leads to ruin. True, the customer did buy the product. That is not, however, the biggest value a customer can provide for you.
If they’re dissatisfied with the copy of their product, for example. Or, if they have questions about how to use it.You have to be readily available to help them out.
Why? Because of Word of Mouth. As we’ve mentioned before, the biggest generator for new customers is customer referrals.
You might end up losing some money by refunding one client, but you make it back from getting positive reviews or referrals from them.
So, here are a couple of post-sale support best practices:
- Always follow-up. Once the client receives the product, get in touch with them after a week or a month. Ask how they enjoyed the product, and whether they have any concerns or feedback.
- Fix any problems. If the client has a problem with the product, it’s your responsibility to fix it. If the product is defective, then you should refund them. This might mean losing money, but it gives you a stellar reputation and brand positioning – something that makes up for it.
- Make feedback easy. The customer shouldn’t have difficulties finding a way to get in touch with you. Make sure all the relevant pages for communication are easy to find
Creating a stellar customer experience is mandatory for a business that wants to make it big – be it a new startup, or a huge conglomerate.
It can help build up brand loyalty, retain old customers and attract new ones.
Did the guide help you optimize your customer experience? Have any interesting stories to tell? Let us know down in the comments!