There’s an old saying in the customer service industry.
‘Give someone a good experience, and they’ll tell twenty people, give them a bad experience, and they’ll tell forty’.
Never before has it been so true, and more importantly, so easy for them to do. In these review dependent days you can post your opinions onto several sites before the experience has even finished; good customer service is everything. The consumer is king, and negative reviews can cause genuine, lasting damage to an establishment’s reputation. Every customer becomes an advertisement, and every opinion counts.
Although organisations understand this, the link between good customer experience and real value is sometimes less clear.
As time moves on, so does the way in which people interact with organisations. Their expectations and demand from each experience is changing. Organisations are competing to create a consumer experience that is faster, smoother and easier. People expect the same convenient and speedy service from Amazon as they do from Costa Coffee or Uber. Whether the customer is an individual or another business, we want them to return, not to go elsewhere.
All too often, business leaders introduce new ideas or initiatives to enhance the consumer experience without actually understanding why. They need to understand the difference that enhancement can make in terms of return custom, profitability and employee retention. However, these days, it is so much easier and faster for customers to walk away to another company if their experience is negative. How can companies quantify the value and the importance of delivering a better consumer experience?
Aligning the company towards best customer experience
Start at the beginning, and at the very top. Good customer experience isn’t a fad or this month’s buzz word. It is, or should be, at the very centre of everything we do in business. It’s a matter of ethos, and should be well embedded into the culture of the company from the top down. Organisations need to know what they’re trying to achieve; what they want the end result to be? Without complete alignment across the company, good customer experience can’t be achieved.
Knowing the customer’s journey
Here we need to ask ourselves some questions. What drove the customer to the company? Why did they choose this company over others? What are their expectations? How do they interact with the company? What do they want? And just as importantly, what don’t they want? How we do we ensure that we’ve taken every step necessary to make their experience positive? Knowing their journey is key to knowing the customer, and to ensuring their best experience.
Harnessing the feedback
Companies are better equipped than they’ve ever been to collect feedback. Email mailing lists, online and mobile surveys and questionnaires, and databases are the most obvious examples. We now have the ability to link that data together from across the company. Access to these increasing amounts of data gives us that ability to map every part of the customer’s journey, and to see where the gaps lie.
The call to action
Once the feedback is in, the data collated, what happens next? Here’s where the action comes in. The endgame of the whole process. Again, it’s about knowing the journey the customer has had with the company. It’s about putting plans and systems in place to maximise the effect of the data. This should be an ongoing process, as permanent and fixed as the ethos that drives it. It should be central to every part of the organisation, and key to all operational decisions. This also brings the obvious opportunity to recognise trends and patterns.
The link between customer experience and value is clear. By turning feedback into action, organisations can drive customer loyalty, bringing return custom.
The customer is always right, they say – perhaps now more than ever.