Having great customer service does not always lead to great customer experience. However, it certainly is part of the puzzle. Customer experience isn't only the human centered approach to service, it encompasses everything that can lead to a satisfied customer, from the team itself to how the area is designed and used by the customers even to it’s perks of being your customer. All these factors can lead to a good or bad customer experience.
"Customer experience is going beyond human centered customer service to give an exceptional experience showcasing your brand and essence."
Why It's Important?
Your customers are the reason you work, regardless of your industry, without customers you cannot survive. Therefore, having a great customer experience is something that not only showcases the company as a whole but also pushes your customers to be satisfied in every aspect of their journey with you. If you walk into a luxury store, you expect not only the staff to be fully trained to know every detail of their inventory, but also you expect the aesthetics of the facilities to be up to par with the brand promise of luxury.
Defining Your Ideal Customer Experience.
Not every brand is made the same, just like not every brand will have the same type of customers. Therefore, defining the core identity of the brand and the overall customer journey goals is key to making their customer experience a reality. For example, offering great bread in a restaurant is not coming from a customer service perspective and is not a must to have, but you are enhancing the customer experience by offering a high quality complimentary product which they will enjoy. The same principle can be take for almost any kind of business and client.
Defining your businesses specific customer experience is not as simple as you think it is. Yes you can have great workers who know the product inside and out, but it also is how you showcase that product that really impacts how customers experience your brand or company.
Let's look at the key points that together encompass customer experience:
- Customer service
- Product or service quality
- Brand image (online or in-store)
Key Points Defined.
As previously stated, customer service is the human part of the customer experience. This mainly includes the service your staff gives to your clients as well as their knowledge of the products and services you offer. Having a highly qualified staff member can be better than having 10 new and non-trained members. When you are interested in a product or service, you want to be able to get to know the ins and outs of it from someone who deals with this every day. If they cannot fully explain what it is that are the intricacies of the service or product, then the client is going to feel unsure about your company and more so, what you are offering.
Product or service quality
Having a quality product or service that does exactly what its supposed to in the way your staff members or marketing materials showed is key to having a great customer experience. Some may argue that this is the main part of customer experience, because even with bad service, having a quality product will make up for those shortcomings. However, this topic is far too broad to make these kinds of conclusions. Furthermore, customer experience is never going to be defined by one single thing but the mixture of several key points. If you want your company to last more than your own lifetime, build a brand not a one hit wonder.
Brand image includes more than just the logo and what types of marketing materials you send out. This includes the presentation of online and offline assets, the way your team acts and reacts with customers, and ofcourse the way it makes people feel about your company. Having a brand that ensures a certain feeling and emotion every time you use it or come to a store is a key part of customer experience. Think of apple, the main reason they can charge what they do for their product is because using their hardware brings a certain “status” to the user that adds to their customer experience.
This category can be a bit tricky as perks can come in many forms. Take a luxury car manufacturer, they sell cars for millions of dollars and customers are quite happy with the results. They are also quite happy about the perks they receive, being the status of driving luxury cars, or even the hand made detailing to their specifications that is inside the car itself. This can also be seen in other non-luxury brands such as Asics, a running shoe company, that lets customers come into the stores and get a foot imprint which will allow them to get soles that match their specific foot type and thus allowing for a much better experience with their products. Another way that this is done in the food and beverage industry is through loyalty systems, which allow customers to take advantage of being a frequent client and get free or discounted items. Don't be afraid to get creative with your perks!
Ways to improve your current customer experience - Customer journey mapping
There are always ways you can improve your customer experience. It has been proven that 80% of company executives think they are doing well in this area, where an average of 10% of consumers are actually happy with their experience received. How to check for improvements? Just look into your customer journey.
Define your customer journey. To do this you have to look into the different customers you have and what their touch-points with the organization are. Knowing their pain points as well as their specific stresses is key to developing and improving the customer experience. This way you actually know what needs to be worked on to enhance the experience of your clients as well as your staff. It is also important to note that a happy staff leads to great customer service.
Understand who your customers are.
Not everyone has the same customers, they will vary with the product or service as well as the industry and pricing tier you are in. Therefore, defining what each of these customers is which and by defining their main needs and wants, will allow you to seamlessly develop plans to improve your approach to them.
Create a connection.
Creating a connection to each specific type of customer you have is key to enhancing your customer experience. Customers want to be part of the brand and they buy into more than just a logo, they buy into what that logo stands for. Create that connection to them. For example, NIKE doesn't out sell their competitors for their amazing quality, as most of these shoes are made in the same factories, but for what the consumer is buying when they get a pair of NIKE’s. They buy what the brand stands for, who they are and how they will back you up and show you that you can “just do it”.
Having all of the above points perfectly aligned will not be successful in the long run. This is because people’s opinions on things can change rapidly, therefore having real time customer feedback and acting on it is key to staying relevant and ahead of the game.
The main touch-point that most customers have in almost any industry is with your staff. Having constant feedback from them and their working conditions / what customers have been liking and disliking is key to build your brand. Make sure you have protocols setup to allow for this.
Set measurable data to track customer experience
Even by having all of these key points stated above ready to go and working, there is always going to be an upper hand in developing measurable data from which you can measure success. Most of the times these come in the form of business results. These results can come from surveys as well as data taken from marketing platforms from your online presence. Other measurables are going to depend on where you want to focus your attention. For example, if you design and build an application, you will focus on the ROI of said application and turn that into a business result.
Develop your ideal customer journey
Ask yourself this:
What would your ideal process be? How would customers go about that process? What would your process be like if there were no pain points? Is developing the previous points allowing you to reach this ideal map?
All in all customer experience is not simple to perfect. There are many components that sometimes cannot even be factored in. However, if you focus on those that you can manage and implement, then there should be quite a high chance of success. The main way is to develop an in depth journey map. This will then define all the key points that need to be refined and redeveloped in order to reach your ideal point. You have to empower your customers, as they are the only ones that know what they want. Furthermore, don’t fight change as this will allow you to evolve with your customers and reach them at a more personal level.
Lastly, customer experience is not always going to be positive. There are many times when your customer journey won’t impact a specific type of customer. But don’t worry, you can always make a new customer journey for that specific type of customer and ensure it only happens once.
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