Each year, the Tempkin Group surveys and rates customer experience across a wide range of 20 industries, including supermarkets, fast food, healthcare, internet service providers, and more. What the 2016 Annual Customer Experience Ratings survey found was alarming. While companies large and small are spending more than ever to make customer experience better, customers report that those companies are actually doing worse.
Of the 294 businesses Tempkin reviewed in 2016, customers rated just 18% as “good” or “excellent,” down from 37% in 2015, a dramatic decline of more than 50%. The proportion of companies which customers rated as “poor” or “very poor” jumped from 28% to 46%. The average score declined for all 20 industries. Clearly, businesses are missing something when it comes to customer experience.
Think of Customer Experience as a Journey
A positive customer experience isn’t about the success of one touchpoint, or two or three. It’s about all of them, viewed holistically. It’s not about how well your help desk handles a complaint, or how engaging your email communications are, or how well your people handle a service call. It’s about how well all of those interactions work together, seamlessly, to create an emotional connection with your customers, one that tells your customers that you know who they are and care about their satisfaction.
As the Harvard Business Review notes in The Truth about Customer Experience:
“Companies have long emphasized touchpoints—the many critical moments when customers interact with the organization and its offerings on their way to purchase and after. But the narrow focus on maximizing satisfaction at those moments can create a distorted picture, suggesting that customers are happier with the company than they actually are. It also diverts attention from the bigger—and more important—picture: the customer’s end-to-end journey.”
What’s a Business to Do?
That’s a critically important insight, but what does it mean to your business in practical terms? What specific actions can you take to enhance customer satisfaction throughout the journey, from initial awareness to purchase to after sales experience?
Here are 4 steps you can take to improve customer experience:
1. Know Who Your Customers Are
If you tell a coworker how proud you are that your son just made Eagle Scout, and the next time you see him he asks if you have any children, you’ll probably conclude he wasn’t listening and doesn’t care about your experience. And you probably won’t be sharing any more information about your home life any time soon.
The same holds true for your customers. The problem is that you have a lot more customers than coworkers, and remembering every detail about every interaction is close to impossible. Knowing your customers, means having a CRM in place to do that for you by centralizing all of your customer interactions into a single database, and making it easy to access customer information whenever you need it, both in the office and on the road.
2. Get Personal
Getting personal means a lot more than simply knowing your customer’s first name. It means a service call rep knowing that another rep was at the customer’s home a year earlier, or not having two sales reps call on the same day with the same information, or not sending redundant emails. For e-commerce businesses, it means knowing what products customers have bought before, and recommending similar products the next time they visit your website.
3. Go Where Your Customers Live
Almost 75% of all internet users are on Facebook, 1 in 4 uses LinkedIn and Twitter, and half of social media users go there to find customer service information. Your customers are on social media sites, which means you have to be on there, too. For example, you can create a Company Page on Facebook, make it easy for them to find you with Facebook’s “add an audience” feature, and use your Facebook presence to monitor customer conversations and address their concerns.
4. Extend Customer Experience across Your Business
It’s critical to keep all of your employees in the loop, from C-level executives to technicians, and helpdesk operators. Keep them fully informed about everything you’re doing to improve customer experience and up to date on any changes you make. You don’t want to send an email blast telling customers about a special offer only to have them talk to a sales rep who has no idea what they’re talking about.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that according to research from Forrester, 73% of consumers would buy more products or services if they had a good customer experience, and 89% would switch to a competitor if they had a bad customer experience. To learn more about the ways you can organize your customer and prospect details to improve customer experience and boost sales, contact us today.
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