“Customer Experience” is defined as the kind of experience that a customer goes through while doing business with a particular company or a business. This experience could be the outcome of various interactions that the customer has with a particular business. Good customer experience is very important for any business to be successful. Customers when they have positive experiences are more likely to be happy which in turn makes them repeat customers. This will make them to be loyal to a business and could make them customers for life. On the contrary one bad experience could turn away a customer for life. Either way the word will spread very fast, especially in this age of social networking.
How can a company or a business create a Great Customer Experience?
Here are some my thoughts on how a company will be able to create a Great Customer Experience.
1. Hiring the Right People: It all starts with hiring the right people. The ideal person must have the inner desire to help customers. The persons who interact with the customers must have the right attitude and must be service minded. Companies must identify employees that provide good customer experience and do everything to retain them. They should provide them with training opportunities to further enhance their skills. Once they are trained they should be encouraged to cross-train and help other employees.
Important milestones and achievements must be celebrated and incentives must be given based on the performance. Management must make sure that the employees servicing the customers clearly understand the company’s values and goals. Management must make sure that this information is conveyed to the employees clearly so that they could align their personal and career goals with the company goals.
2. Treating Customers with Respect: One of the key drivers for creating a great customer experience is by treating the customers with respect. The customers must be treated in the way how we would like to be treated. Companies and business must act with integrity. They must base their foundation on good morals and values. This will be very helpful in gaining the trust of the customers. Companies must constantly focus on customer needs and look for opportunities to satisfy customers and exceed their expectations.
3. Being Helpful and Honest with the customer: The associates who work for a company must be helpful and honest with the customers. If a customer approaches for help they should be able to assist the customer in every way they can. If they are not able to help they should look for someone who is knowledgeable about the product to help the customer.
As I was shopping in one of the popular store recently, I noticed a nice a pair of shoes and requested the salesperson if I could get those shoes in my shoe size. He told me that “this is all what we have, everything is out here”. As I was walking back I noticed a different salesperson and I asked her if I get those shoes for my shoe size. She walked to the back of the store and came back with the shoe size that I requested. I thanked the lady for taking time to help me out. She said “I am just doing my job Sir!” I told her that she did a great job. I had two different experiences one being a negative experience and the other being a positive experience in the same store in a matter of few hours just because one salesperson does not want to do his job in order to help the customer.
4. Seeing from the Customer Perspective: The companies must monitor the customer experience firsthand rather than relying on customer complaints. They must put themselves in the customer’s shoes and should go through the typical experience like a customer. If the customers are using the company’s website for purchases, the group that is specifically assigned for creating a good online customer experience should themselves browse through the website like a typical customer navigating the same menus and prompts. They should keep working on making things better which will help in providing an excellent experience for the customer.
5. Product Knowledge: The customer service representatives or the sales people who are selling the products must have a good knowledge of the products they are selling. When interacting with the customers, they should make sure that they have all the information available and give it to the customer so that the customers could make informed decisions to purchase a product or services based on the information provided to them.
Recently, I called the customer service of a well known company to renew my yearly membership. While on the phone I noticed that I could be saving some money if I enrolled in the automatic renewal plan. I told the representative that I would like to enroll in that option. She told me that it is too late as she already processed the transaction. She advised me that I could do it when I renew my membership next year. So I lost the opportunity to save some money this year. If this representative was knowledgeable about the services and products offered by the company, as a customer I would have been benefited.
6. Refraining from Deceptive Marketing Practices: Companies must refrain from deceptive marketing practices to lure customers. They must learn to build their customer base based on trust. When a product is advertised, the company must make sure that they have a good inventory of items in stock. A disappointed customer may not return to the store again or may not do business with that company ever based on a negative experience. The companies must never try to sell services to customers that are not required and clearly explain the extended warranties and return policies.
7. Standing behind what they sell: Standing behind what a business sells is a very important factor for good customer experience. The companies must stand behind the products they sell and must create easy return and replacement polices. When they advertise a sale they must stand behind the price and must provide a price guarantee. I recently read that the sales for Hyundai cars went up based on their “Hyundai Assurance” program. Any company that stands behind what they sell will be successful. Companies must learn from other companies that are providing great customer experience and must adapt to those practices.
8. Rewarding Loyal Customers: The companies must do more to retain the loyal customers and look for innovative ways to attract new customers. Leveraging loyal customers in order to attract new customers is a good practice. Creation of easily understandable customer rewards programs will be helpful. In this competitive market it is a good thing to have loyal customers and the companies must provide exceptional products and services to retain these customers. Keeping an online rewards program rather than requesting customers for loyalty cards at the Point of Sale and holding coupons online that can be used while the customers are paying would be very helpful.
Role of Social Media:
Social Media is playing a major role in customer loyalty based on customer experience. In the past, if the customer was unhappy it was spread by the word of mouth. But with the advent of social media the tone of the customer experience has changed where one tweet or a Facebook post could reach thousands of customers. So a customer experience either good or bad will spread fast.
A few months ago I experienced some issues with a service provider. I reached out to the customer support by posting the issue on their Facebook wall. I was contacted by the customer support in less than ten minutes after I posted it. The issue that I was experiencing was resolved in about half an hour. This was a wonderful experience that I had with this company and posted a comment on their Facebook wall praising their excellent service and support.
Any business will not be able to make every customer happy. Great companies must look for ways to transform a negative customer experiences into positive customer experience by providing an exceptional service.
In this day and age consumers are not just looking to buy goods and services. The consumers are looking for a good customer experience. This customer experience and relationship will continue even after the customer leaves the store.
Every customer has some kind of experience which they can relate to as they buy products from various companies and business. Are these experiences “Good” or “Bad”?
The answer to this question will make all the difference.
Disclaimer: This is my personal blog. The opinions and thoughts expressed are solely my own, based on my personal experiences and does not represent my current or previous employers in any way.