Customer experience is the top differentiation metric for companies today. The research and advisory company Forrester says, for 2018, “CX transformation is no longer a nice-to-have, it's a necessity.” However, many corporations don't walk their talk when it comes to customer experience. For every heartwarming social media tale of fantastic customer service, there are horror stories of terrible treatment at the hands of some companies.
What does this mean for you? It means that you have a great opportunity to excel and stand out from the competition. Take some time to think of how to give your customers a top-notch experience and get inspired with these examples.
1. Hone Your Customer Experience Vision
Determine your guiding principles. They'll permeate your business culture and bring out the best in your team. The customer experience leader Zappos has its list of ten core values. A couple of examples are: ‘Create Fun and A Little Weirdness’ and ‘Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication’.
Think about what you bring to the table as a company. What can you offer your customers? A good product isn't enough anymore.
What makes you special? How can you communicate that feeling to your customers?
One of the keys to a good CX is creating an emotional connection with your customers. Show them that you see them as people, not just dollar signs. For instance, when a Zappos customer needed to return a pair of shoes because of a death in the family, the customer service agent had a courier pick up the shoes at no cost. They also sent flowers and a note of condolence to the bereaved customer.
It’s this kind of service that makes Zappos a byword in customer experience.
2. Empower Your Customer-Facing Staff
It's good to have a plan, but it may be even more important to design an environment that fosters opportunities for your staff to create great CX. Many outstanding customer experiences happen where the rubber meets the road: at the customer/staff level.
Unfortunately, many businesses seem to see their customer-facing staffers as the ‘low man on the totem pole’.
Empowering them to make decisions in the moment can set the stage for wonderful customer experiences.
For instance, the grocery store chain Publix is known for its warm and friendly staff. It's the largest employee-owned company in the US. It's also one of the most profitable. The chain treats its employees well, offering career paths and stock options. This creates a feeling of engagement and investment in the company that opens the way for everyday excellence in customer service.
When Gage Boucher, an employee at a Florida Publix, stopped to help an elderly customer tie his shoelaces it was just a regular part of his day. Another shopper took a picture of his act of kindness and posted it online. The story spread and so did Publix's good reputation.
3. Listen To What Customers Say About You
Make the effort to maintain your social media presence. If it's appropriate to your niche (and you have the funds) consider staffing your accounts 24/7. Customers today expect a quick response whenever they choose to contact you.
You can use online tools such as Twitter hashtags, Hootsuite, or SocialMention.com to find out what people are saying about you in real time. It's also a good idea to ask your customers to fill out surveys after an interaction. Just a question or two is fine. The important thing is to ask while the interaction is still fresh in their minds.
4. Get to Know Your Customers Inside and Out
How well do you know your customers? Do you know their hopes and dreams – or at least how they want to use your services and interact with your company?
For instance, the Australian telecom provider Telstra has designed its website to make the customer experience as easy and effortless as possible. Their research told them that many customers access the site on mobile. So they designed a simple, attractive, quick-loading mobile page that takes customers to their most-used features.
Big buttons with labels such as “Pay My Bill,” “My Pre-Paid” and “Moving Home” make it easy for customers to accomplish their purpose on the site. They don't have to search through pages to find out how to change the address on their account — it’s all right there.
5. Map The Customer Journey
Have you ever looked at your company from a customer's point of view? It can be highly instructive to follow each step of the customer's journey with your company. How did they hear about you? Where do they meet up with you — online or in-person? How can you make the process easier for them?
The Singaporean online fashion store Zalora found a section of its customer journey that was causing customers great inconvenience. If customers who lived in apartments weren't home when their packages were delivered, they'd receive a pick-up slip. Then they'd have to go wait in line at the post office to retrieve their order.
What Zalora did was a stroke of genius. They entered into an agreement with the convenience store chain 7-Eleven to allow Zalora customers to pick up packages at their nearest outlet (7-Elevens are very popular in Singapore). There's one on practically every street corner, so it's a much easier option.
6. Keep Your Language Simple
Is your industry laden with jargon and tech-speak? Your customers are probably swimming around in a sea of confusing terms, just waiting for someone to throw them a life preserver.
The New York health insurance company, Oscar, has built its business on ‘speaking human’. Their business model is based on simplifying the hugely complex task of buying insurance. Customers enter a few personal facts — marital status, income, number of children, and location — and they can have a quote in minutes.
Oscar's business is growing by leaps and bounds as customers flock to an online insurance-buying experience that makes it easy for them to get their needs met. Customers feel they can trust Oscar and that the company cares about them.
Great customer experience is built on caring about the customer. There's no way to fake it. Now more than ever it's vital for companies to invest in CX, for their customers' sake. And their own.
How do you deliver amazing customer service? Share your tips and tricks in the comment box down below!