Customer experience is set to be the top area of business competition by the year 2020 – ahead of product and service quality, and much more important than price. Modern consumers are increasingly demanding when it comes to customer service, and when they find it they’re willing to pay more for it.
Why is consistency important?
It’s not enough anymore to solve customers’ problems. Top marks – and most customers − will go to businesses that anticipate and address those needs before they come up. Another indication of best-quality customer service is providing a similar experience in all their dealings with your company. In an increasingly mechanized world, the prize will go to the business that gives its customers a personalized experience.
A survey of 305 companies found that those with the best multi-channel customer engagement strategies had a customer retention rate of 89%, compared to a mere 33% for those companies with the worst.Customers come first
By making caring about your customers a top priority, chances are high that they’ll return the favor. Making customers repeat themselves every time they have to deal with a different section of your company is not only annoying, but more than that, can make you look bad. The brand can come off as incompetent, or worse, like you don’t care about your customers.
The keys to creating a consistent customer experience
The first key is deciding that customer experience is a top priority, with support at the very highest level. Everything else flows from there. Consistent customer experience doesn’t just happen by itself, it requires investment in training and the proper tools. It might be a good idea to appoint a position, such as Chief Customer Officer, to oversee all your efforts.
Write it down
It might seem like a cliché, but writing down your customer experience mission statement will make sure everyone – from marketing up to executives – is on the same page. You’ll be able to get buy-in from all the entire organization, and listen to different insights based on their positions at different levels of the customer’s journey.
Communication is a two-way street
We think of communicating with customers in terms of telling them about new products, keeping them aware of promotions, and so on, but a big part of real communication is listening. Get feedback from your customers, ask them what they want from your company, then tell them how they influenced your decisions. This will show how much you value them, and give you valuable information to integrate into your customer experience policies.
We all need a human touch
The right technology can do a lot, but can never replace the finesse and responsiveness of a real human being. The best way to create a personalized experience is to have a person reply to queries and customer concerns. Take responsibility for your actions and be transparent about your process (clearly state your opening hours, if a product is backordered, realistic timeframes for service, and so on).
Keep your promises
All your other efforts won’t matter if you don’t follow through on your promises. Know who you are as a company, teach it to your team, and do your best to always practice what you preach.
Get the right technology and use it wisely
Every day we get more and better tools we can use to tailor the customer experience to each client. You can personalize your messages and website content according to a customer’s:
- Search keywords used to find you
- How often they’ve visited your site
- History with your company − purchases, previous queries, etc.
- Date and time of day
- What device they’re using
- Where they came from (what website, ad, promotion)
- Any variable you can think of
You can use this information in creative ways to give useful suggestions that make your customers feel special. For instance, a clothing company can use weather information from a customer’s home city to direct them towards winter or summer outfits.
Design targeted landing pages based on your most popular keywords. Even a minor detail like greeting a customer by name with a “good morning” or “good afternoon” as appropriate can do a lot – it shows that you’re paying attention and making an effort to give your customer the best service.
Keep the same look and message on every channel. A recognizable brand builds consumer confidence. All of your customer communication channels – website, ad, stores – should leave no doubt in the customer’s mind who they’re dealing with.
Although this sounds basic, maintain the same colors, graphics, and fonts. Color improves brand recognition by 80%, so using the same colors all the time is a great way of setting yourself apart from the competition.
Make good use of the information you gather
Your software can respond to specific customer behaviors with targeted offers. For instance, if a customer has $48 in their basket, you can offer them free shipping on orders over $50 (with a few low-ticket suggestions, such a batteries, to make up the difference).
Amazon is really good at this, offering each customer a different landing page based on previous browsing and purchase behavior, as well as cookies from their internet browsing habits. The ‘often purchased together’ feature offers customers things they didn’t know they wanted but now find themselves suddenly needing it.
In the modern world, one of your biggest assets is your brand identity. The more customers have a clear idea of your brand, the more they trust you and want to do business with you.
And one of the most important ways of creating a clear and recognizable identity is through consistency. Customers enjoy buying from a company when they know they can always expect a certain standard of quality.