It’s all about the experience

The customer experience that is. If you’re in business, you had better hope that the experience is a great one. Why? Because you can bet that if it’s not, word will spread like wildfire – face-to-face, person-to-person, on Twitter, Facebook and any other outlet available.

Customer expectations are higher than ever. Exceeding their expectations is the goal. It doesn’t matter if customers are shopping in a retail store, by phone, on the Internet or anywhere else, the quality of the experience – which includes the entire journey before, during and after the purchase – is key. There are too many options for them to go elsewhere. One statistic shows that about 47 percent will drop you like a hot potato because of poor customer experience. On the other side of the coin, 73 percent of customers satisfied with their experience will recommend your brand to others.

Just what is customer experience? It’s about the relationship a customer has with a business; it’s the sum total of all the interactions over the duration of the relationship; it’ s the customer journey. There’s many touchpoints along the journey and that leaves a lot of places where things can go wrong. So how do you ensure that your customers’ experiences with your company will exceed expectations?

First, know your customers; walk a mile in their shoes; know their pain points; their challenges; their needs and wants. Anticipate. Be ready to answer their questions and provide solutions. It’s not about you, it’s about them and what matters to them. Listen.

Be consistent. All communications channels – word-of-mouth, face-to-face, website, blog, social media – should all be on the same page with the same message and the same story. It builds trust. Make it easy for customers to get the information they need. Don’t make them go through page after page on your website or be transferred a dozen times on the phone before they get where they need to be. You will lose them – plain and simple.

Connect with them. Another interesting statistic I found states that a business that optimizes for an emotional connection outperforms the competition by 85 percent in sales growth. Show them that you value them. Actions speak louder than words.

Keep tabs on how you are doing; monitor each touchpoint to make sure the journey is a smooth one; ask customers for feedback.

Creating a great customer experience is a process, not a one-and-done. Nobody said it would be easy which is a good thing because it’s not. But, the rewards are ten-fold and will keep them coming back for more.

Posted by MJ Thomas

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