An exceptional customer experience strategy is more important than ever. Customers are different today. They’ve grown accustom to amazing customer experience innovations that make transactions easy and painless. Customers are saving time and money with less effort. Consumers order things for delivery to their door in record time. They’re using apps to fetch dinner or a ride in minutes. And they’re finding the perfect handyman in their local community with one click. But more importantly, they’re sharing their customer experience with the rest of the world. So, what’s your customer experience strategy?
Customer service needs are evolving
If you’re moving along doing business the way you’ve always done it, you may be at risk of falling behind. Or, worse case scenario, you could go the way of some major retailers who have gone belly up after being hit head-on by successful online retailers. Unfortunately, these retailers failed to see the power of the gorilla-in-the-room (Amazon). And it’s all about the customer experience strategy you set in motion. As older generations leave the workforce, spend less, and inevitably drop out altogether, you’re left with younger, tech-savvy customers who demand more from the companies they do business with. And this makes sense. After all, according to S & P Global Intelligence, modern customers are opting to shop with online retailers like Amazon rather than go downtown or to local malls. And savvy customers start their search online for products and services long before deciding on a preferred company.
But is it just about convenience?
Although convenience is a driving factor for today’s busy customers, it’s not the only thing. It’s the overall customer experience that represents a positive, simple, and intuitive journey. It’s an expectation that their chosen company knows exactly what they want from the first point of discovery and contact to conversion. Successful companies are great at reflecting and fulfilling their customers’ expectations. Discover Card demonstrates this in their TV commercial that depicts twins representing the customer and Discover employee—talk about reflecting the customer! But for Discover, it’s the company’s ability to deliver a successful product and customer experience by knowing exactly what the customer is looking for in a credit card. So it should be no surprise that Discover Financial was recently ranked “Highest in Customer Satisfaction” by J.D. Power. David Nelms, chairman and CEO of Discover says, “we strive to deliver the best experiences to our cardmembers every day.”
The power of online reviews
But not only are today’s customers doing business online, they are also sharing their experiences. In fact, online word-of-mouth is spreading like wild fire as customers today are more likely than ever to share their customer experiences. And, unfortunately for some, they tend to express and post negative experiences over positive ones. A survey by Dimensional Research reported that “respondents reported being more likely to share bad than good experiences” with 54% sharing those bad experiences with more than five people. Unfortunately, negative online feedback posted on social communities can make or break your business. According to Inc, just one bad review can destroy 40 good customer experiences that were shared. A Harvard study noted that local restaurants, for example, had a much higher risk of closing if their Yelp ratings were low versus restaurants with higher ratings.
The role of social media
With the power and speed of social media, you’re at the mercy of reviews and comments by customers. But, they can also help you. For example, 62% of B2B and 42% of B2C customers in the Dimensional Research survey actually “purchased more after a good customer service experience.” This is great news when you learn that according to LinkedIn’s review of recent research, 97% of consumers in 2017 were highly likely to read online reviews before buying with 85% of them trusting those reviews as much as friend and family recommendations. If you’re a local B2B business, you should know that 72% of businesses were found to trust local businesses more if they have positive reviews.
Getting your customer experience strategy right
First and foremost, providing a positive customer experience, whether in person or online, requires exceptional products and services. Take the time to review your business processes and compare what you do with how your competitors win over customers. Find out what they’re doing to attract and keep customers. Then, personally take your customers’ journey for a test drive to experience what they must go through to complete a transaction successfully. How easy is it to find your business online? Can they quickly find the products or services they’re interested in? Do they have to jump hoops to make a purchase? Will your backend processes prevent a smooth experience from becoming your customer’s reality?
Enhance your story and strategy
So, consider this your official wake up call to realize that change is inevitable. No longer does an “open for business” sign bring in customers. Review your business operations and how technology can update and improve weaknesses and gaps. Know your audience and what motivates them. Avoid one-size-fits-all messaging and experiences. Look to suit your customers’ unique needs with an effective customer service strategy. Enhance your already compelling story to reflect the positive experience they’ll want to share.