I recently had a bad customer experience. Better said, buyer experience, because I will most likely never become their customer. I was pretty disappointed because they did not offer what they said and 'promised' on their website. I am not saying that anyone who is disappointed by a service will not transform from buyer to customer; mostly will not though. Actually research shows that 96% of unhappy customers don’t complain, however 91% of those will simply leave and never come back (get more facts and statistics from this LinkedIn article).
I see many small companies and startups that are so focused on the product/service, that they tend to neglect this very important part: how they treat thier buyers and future customers.
And, from my point of view, this is supeeeeeer important, because nowadays buyers are more informed than ever AND if we take into account that 70% of a buying decision is made before their make contact with your service, the focus on experience should be even higher. More than that, customers are looking for social proof, like looking for recommendations and reviews to validate their choice, or researching, asking online. This suggests that customer expectations are higher than ever before, and they expect to get what they are asking for, fast and of high quality if possible. If their expectations are broken and they dislike the way they are treated, they will move to your competitor. Simple as that.
What is customer experience (cx)?
An article on Forbes discusses how customer experience represents an alignment between the customer's expectation, the brand promise and the company culture behind the brand. So, customers expect great service/product -> the company promises this -> the company's culture is build in such a way to meet these expectations. Online or offline, it's the same. Promise something, train your employees to embrace and stick to this promise, and then deliver it. That equals happy customers.
How I like to explain customer experience is better illustrated by something that Howard Behar, the former president of Starbucks, said in the book “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business”:
“People expect an expensive latte delivered with a bit of sparkle. “We’re not in the coffee business serving people,” [..]. “We’re in the people business serving coffee. Our entire business model is based on fantastic customer service. Without that, we’re toast.”
Let me put that in caps: IN THE PEOPLE BUSINESS SERVING X, not vice versa. We are serving people. We build products for people. Because they pay us in return for our services. And it is our/ your duty to treat them right and look after them and their experience. No magic formula.
Customer Experience - golden rules
There are always ways to improve your brand's customer experience. I've listed here some simple rules that I think can help your customer experience:
1. Ask for feedback about your service. Surveys are a good thing, but make sure to have also a descriptive part where people can freely express their opinion. Having just a rating system will not tell you much about how they feel about your brand. Even if it's negative feedback, it's better to know the problem.You should thank your customers for helping you improve.
2. Recognize your errors. Saying "sorry" after a negative feedback or problem, shows your human side. Never blame the customer.
3. Go the extra mile. You can provide good customer experience or great. For example, if your customer purchases something online from your company, go beyond in your a confirmation email: write a nice thank you note, welcome the person to your brand, attach useful (related to the last) products that he/she might want to purchase. Or make it easy for people to return a good. If you are in the online e-commerce business, might want to check out UserTesting webinar on "Extraordinary CX".
4. Train your employees. Your employees need to have a shared understanding of what you sell/do, who you are, what are your values etc. , in order to deliver the same consistent image of your brand. So get your employees aligned with the company's values and train them how to respond with empathy, how to resolve possible conflicts. They can follow a guideline that you make, or build one with them.
I believe that building a customer-centered culture in your company will benefit not only your customers, but also your employees by facilitating a better understanding of the customers' needs and an easier way to manage conflict and grow an empathetic business.
We're in the people serving business, after all! ;)