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How to improve customer experience

how to improve customer experience

Customer expectations keep rising, as do their demands. This is why enhancing the customer experience is critical to the success of your business. They expect excellence, and their definition of what that entails keeps changing with their behavior, buying patterns, and needs.

It puts more pressure on businesses to balance the products and services they offer while their internal resources meet consumers’ demands. Customer-centric companies are reaping the rewards, yet, only 14% of companies measure the ROI of customer experience.

So how do you improve customer experience, and what exactly is it? Well, it is everything related to your business that affects a customer’s perception or feelings about your company. It’s not just the product they buy; it’s the entire journey — from pre-sales and sales to after-care. It is in every interaction they have with you. 

What defines customer experience?

Customer experience is the customer’s journey with your brand and everything that shaped it.

You could think of it as starting a relationship, the flirting that indicates interest. The initial conversations form the foundations—the building of trust by providing information. And, if it all goes well, it ends in a mutually beneficial relationship where both parties get what they want. 

Customer experience, therefore, focuses on building the relationship between a business and its customers. And as we all know, building and maintaining any significant relationship takes work. When you start to approach your customer journey the same way you would a relationship with a loved one, it is easier to assess where you can make improvements. 

When it comes to your customers, it is important to make the distinction between customer experience and customer service. If you think of the customer experience as the relationship, then consider customer service as the marriage counselor. It’s where you turn to when things go wrong. When the relationship breaks down, it becomes your last-ditch effort to save it before it is too late and you lose that person forever. Improving the customer experience is about defining the expectations of both parties, and successfully delivering on them. 

Attraction, retention, and customer experience improvement

attracting customers

Dating. It’s a tale as old as time. First, you attract them, then you seduce them, then you marry them – and a successful customer experience is just like that. It starts with your approach, your brand, and the feelings it invokes. And it applies whether you’re meeting people online, in person, at a church, or in a bar.  

While this is a familiar situation for most — we all know how easily things can go wrong. Today’s saturated market is like a crowded bar — to get noticed, you need to stand out either with your effective advertising, an innovative product, great customer service, and referrals, or all of them together. How you approach the customer, treat them, and make them feel makes the difference between customer experience success and failure.

But this is about attraction. What about retention? A wrong move can cost you the relationship with a customer. And we all know that attracting new customers is much more expensive than retaining the existing ones. What long-term experience your agents give to the customer is, therefore, definitive in whether they want to become a true blue fan of the brand. In other words, how your employees interact with your customers is paramount to their experience. 

Why customer experience is important to your business 

Enhancing the customer experience is hugely important for any business. The better experience customers have, the better your customer retention, loyalty, and referrals. Not to mention reducing customer complaints and returns. 

benefits of enhancing customer experience

The benefits of enhancing customer experience include:

  • increased customer loyalty and retention
  • higher customer satisfaction
  • more positive reviews and recommendations and better word-of-mouth marketing

And all of these lead to increased revenue. 

Defining your customer

Enhancing your customer’s experience is a lot easier when you consider whose experience it is you want to improve. 

Defining your customer sounds pretty straightforward — it’s the people who want to (and do) buy your products and services. And these types of customers are important because they drive revenues; without them, businesses cannot continue to exist. But a company without employees doesn’t exist either.

Sueanne Carr, a customer strategy expert, noted, “Customers are in charge of your destiny.” That they “possess the power to see a company prosper or fail.” 

Increasingly, and quite rightly so, employers realize that there are two types of customers — internal and external. Internal customers are your employees — their experience with the company has a direct impact on your external customers — the people who get to enjoy your end product or service. 

Those employers recognize that improving an employee’s overall experience determines their job satisfaction and performance. Better satisfaction results in them being a greater value to the company. And since employees are the lifeblood of your company they can propel you into the future.

Luckily, there are multiple similarities between internal (employees) and external customers.

types of customers

Comparing internal and external customers 

Money

Customers buy stuff to create revenue. Employees make and sell the products consumers buy. They also keep your operations moving effectively, thus creating revenue like your external customers. 

Individuality

Both your customers and employees are individuals. They have different needs and wants. They want to be interacted with and understood at their level. Neither are droids, and their individuality makes them uniquely valuable.

Retention

It is estimated that the cost of getting a new customer is five to 10 times more than keeping an existing customer. Likewise, employee turnover can cost employers 33% of an employee’s annual salary. Nurturing loyalty is a powerful strategy to keep your business moving forward. 

Referrals

Word-of-mouth has always effectively marketed your business, products, and services. Both customers can serve as advocates for your brand. Either by spreading the word about your company as a great place to work or telling their friends about the great products they bought. 

customers inhouse and outside

Personalization

Customers expect to have a personalized interaction with your company. One-size-fits-all doesn’t work in people management, either. A brilliant CRM tool can help you with both and will allow you to not only track your customer’s interactions with you but also allow you to track your employee’s performance so you can provide personalized feedback and input into their performance and development. 

Read more: Everything you need to know about customer service coaching

And for your business to be the best — you need to enhance the customer experience for both. The old adage, it seems, is true — it starts with you. If you treat your internal customers right, they will treat your external customers right. And that will automatically result in improving the customer experience. 

internal vs external customer service

Ways to improve customer experience

Positive customer experiences create loyal customers. Improving the external customer experience can lead to your customers becoming brand ambassadors, and increasing the likelihood of repeat business. 

After purchase, a customer will usually only reach out when something has gone wrong. Before purchase, they will typically reach out so that you can help them decide on the purchase. Improving contact center customer processes and experiences will significantly impact your business. Below, we have a few tips to help you improve your overall customer experience, impacting both your internal and external customers. 

ways to improve customer experience

Improve customer service

The more knowledgeable and helpful your employees are, the more they can help customers resolve problems. This is especially true if you have a call center or remote help desk — having a human being handle the work can make all the difference in a frustrating situation. 

But it’s not enough to just give employees a script and tell them what they’re supposed to do when they take calls from customers; they need thorough and regular coaching guidance in how to handle the situations that arise most often, what questions customers will ask, and how you want them to respond so that you can monitor their performance and see when there’s improvement needed.

After all, with well-trained customer service teams, you can consistently increase customer satisfaction. 

Read more: 7 simple strategies to improve your customer satisfaction (CSAT)

Empower employees

It’s an inside-out approach that starts with meeting the needs of your employees. Employees who are happy and empowered will take more responsibility for their role – they are more confident in their job and decision-making processes. You can empower your employees through training and coaching, but it is also important to hire right and manage employee expectations to improve their performance. When an empowered employee interacts with a customer they can take appropriate action without waiting for a manager’s approval, which in turn, improves the customer’s experience. 

Be available 

It is important to meet your customers where they are. It makes it easier for them to both find, and interact with you. Different generations of customers have different needs and use different platforms to reach out to you. When you embrace an omnichannel approach in your customer service delivery and unite all conversations on one platform – you make it easier for your customers to reach out, to find the right solutions, and your service delivery is personalized to their communication preferences. 

Read more: Top 5 chat metrics and ways to improve them

Make it personal

Customers have come to expect personalized experiences as the norm. That doesn’t mean they expect businesses to know every detail of their personal lives — they’re savvy enough to know companies aren’t that omniscient. But they do want to feel like you know them, their interactions with your brand, and you care about them as individuals. 

People love hearing that their issue is important to someone else, especially if they feel as though they’re being treated like a number or a transaction instead of a person. This goes back to making customers feel cared for and should be a focus from the start of your business. When you take steps to make customers feel valued and important, it improves the likelihood of loyalty and future purchases.

Leverage technology

Technology doesn’t just make employees more efficient; it also helps them add value to the customer experience. Using the right technology can help you build great customer service teams and provide better customer experiences, faster. Having a system that helps you understand what your customers need and how your agents are performing, will allow you to improve the customer experience quickly.

Read more: How END. built their best support team ever

With technology, you can record calls, track customer satisfaction and monitor any other data that might help you pinpoint areas of customer service that need improvement.

Have a top-down approach

A top-down approach means that management leads by example, setting clear expectations for employees across all departments and providing regular feedback on individual performance. In order for CX improvements to have the impact you want, they should be made at the highest level of the business and rolled out across. 

It’s important that every employee understands why excellent customer experience is important and knows what they’re expected to do in order to achieve this goal. But they always need an example to look up to. 

Make a connection 

Every relationship is built on connections. Whether it is your relationship with your employees or your customers — empathy is important. 

It allows you to connect with your customers to improve their experiences. So whether you are providing your contact center customer service team with coaching and advice with regards to their performance – doing so with empathy will significantly improve their perception of the interaction and help you build a coaching culture

Likewise, when they interact with external customers with empathy and understanding, they improve the customer’s experience – and form a deeper connection to your customers.

Final thoughts 

Customer experience is a feeling. It’s a state of mind that comes from interacting with your business, whether it’s in person, on the phone, online, or through social media.

It’s also the first impression someone has of your company. So if you want to improve customer experience, you’ll need to be creative and willing to innovate.

improve customer experience

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