There are many angles from which one can focus on the customer experience, but whichever one you take, the goal is ultimately to exceed their expectations. It could be argued that the Holy Grail of customer experience is to seek new and more innovative ways of surpassing customer expectations in order to build brand loyalty. After all, the more loyal a customer is to your brand, the more likely they are to stay longer, spend more and to speak highly of your business to others.
Of course, in the modern world, customer loyalty is at a premium. After all, there are more choices and products available than ever. Customers have access to an increasing amount of information on which to base their decisions, and it has never been easier to switch services from one provider to another.
It is for this reason that the customer experience has become paramount and a growing number of businesses are placing such focus on achieving this mythic Holy Grail. The real difficulty is that while organizations have a tendency to view the customer experience as the sum of a wide range of separate parts - a mobile app, a contact center, a physical store and so on, from the customer’s point of view, a bad experience with any one of these parts can impact on the customers overall brand loyalty.
Remember, that customers are constantly forming impressions about a business, and a single bad experience can be enough to wipe out months or even years of dedicated prior loyalty. Every time the customer utilizes any one of their touchpoints with the company, there is the possibility of them having a bad experience that will negatively impact their overall impression of the business.
A problem related to your mobile app or website might lead to them avoiding going into your store. Or perhaps they have been to a store and suffered a frustrating face-to-face encounter with an employee. Maybe a problematic purchase has caused them to head to your contact center, only to experience further frustration with long hold times or agents that repeatedly ask them for the same information. Any of the above examples of an experience gone wrong could cause you to lose the customer entirely.
The way to solve this is first to enable an omnichannel approach for your contact center mix, as this affords the customer more choice and greater convenience. Making it easier for them to contact you, using whatever channel they prefer, is the first step in improving the customer experience.
However, just offering diverse channels is of little use unless they are joined up throughout the process. A client that starts a query via the website and is transitioned through an IVR before ending up at an agent wants that agent to know everything they have already gone through. So you need to ensure that customer interactions can be tracked across multiple channels and that however the customer is being dealt with, everything that needs to be known about the transaction is available at all times.
You want to make channel transitions seamless, as channel bounce and constantly having to repeat themselves is cited as being among the main frustrations of customer experience. So by creating a centralized and personalized customer’s profile where experiences and problems are consistently logged, means you can overcome these customer frustrations and take one step closer to building the ultimate customer experience.
Equally crucial to your improvement process should be the implementation of advanced analytics tools, as these will enable you to capture, measure and analyze the customer journey. This will provide the insights required to assist you in measuring the effectiveness of the way you interact with your consumers, giving you an indication of the steps your brand needs to take to move customer satisfaction and loyalty forward.
Thirdly, you want to be able to effectively measure the customer experience, so that you are able to improve that experience within specific channels and touchpoints. This requires not only effective omnichannel measurement, whereby you ensure you have a holistic view across all the different channels of contact the customer may utilize, but also demands that you make a case for standard measurement across all major experiences.
After all, affecting any change across all channels and touchpoints without a standard metric will be next to impossible. You cannot have separate metrics in place in the contact center, another in the store and yet another in digital. You will need a strategic view with a single common metric if you are going to enable tactical changes that will boost customer loyalty and have a positive impact on your bottom line.
Ultimately, if you want to ensure the customer consistently comes back, spends more money and spreads good word of mouth about your organization, you want to make their life easier. Remember that the higher the effort involved on their part, the more the experience can cause damage to your company’s reputation.
If a customer has to contact the company repeatedly because they haven’t been provided with the correct information or advice; if they are constantly transferred between departments or channels; if they have to repeat their personal data and story several times; or if it takes them a long time to navigate the IVR to find the right answer, then they may decide it is not really worth the effort. Which also means they won’t waste any effort on purchasing products or services from your company in the future.
The other thing to remember is that customers today also want a more personal interaction with your brand, something that is as easy and as personal as messaging a friend. So you should be doing all you can to deliver services on the various social media platforms, alongside the more traditional contact center channels. An increasing number of customer are digitally-savvy and will thus be more prone towards loyalty to those companies that interact with them on their own terms.
Furthermore, the social media platforms offer a channel that is a prime opportunity to build a more personal connection with your consumers. In the right hands and with the right brand behind it, even the use of emojis or text speak can play a role in demonstrating that there is a personality behind your brand, while at the same time making customers feel as if their interaction is almost as familiar as a conversation with friends.
In the end, increasing customer loyalty is not a simple matter of improving or changing any single thing – it requires intense and ongoing focus, constant vigilance regarding new technologies and channels, and dedication from your employees, who will need to go the extra mile for the client. Customer satisfaction may be a difficult metric to keep high consistently, but the truth is that you will succeed far more often than you fail if you ensure that you treat every customer in such a way that they recognize you value them and their time and you always treat them as an individual, rather than as just another transaction to be processed.