Customer experience is more than just a buzzword.
Seasoned businesses as well as startups are constantly shaping and refining customer engagement opportunities, with the final goal of creating an environment conducive to increased visibility, improved profitability, better operational insights, and better metrics associated with customer churn rate and customer loyalty.
Heightened emphasis in this facet of marketing has business leaders on constant lookout for business-savvy opportunities to ramp up the customer experience. When a customer experience strategy has reached a plateau, business leaders need to go back to the drawing board and find ways to incorporate these simple, tried and true concepts aimed at delivering customer experiences that rock!
Make Emotional Connections
Successful business organizations know that sustainability and growth can only be achieved when everyone embraces a corporate culture that goes beyond core principles of supply and demand.
Understanding and purveying a customer and what he or she needs is just the beginning. Doing it in a way that it appeals to his or her emotions, thus building affinity, will set the stage for a more primal relationship, where both the business organization and the customer will feel intimately connected and interdependent.
Regardless of industry, creating this type of connection gives the business a competitive advantage. When looking into ways to connect emotionally with the core audience of any business, the business must first understand the commonalities among their most desirable customers.
How to find out what makes customers’ hearts tick
An emotional connection with a customer can only take place if a business has a clear and profound understanding of the drivers behind consumer choices.
From the very start, businesses need to draft a potential buyer persona. Once their offering is out in the market, those tasked with customer experience strategy should seek knowledge about their actual customers, and reshape their buyer persona to be better aligned with the realities of business. This can be done through the parsing of available business intelligence, or by conducting surveys, usability studies, or focus groups.
The best service providers are those that are as excited as the consumer about the product they sell. Create a corporate culture that not only believes in what you sell but is also proud and excited to use it and offer it.
The conversation between frontline staff and consumers should be one where both feel connected and have similar passions above and beyond the offering. If the product or products offered by a business organization do not evoke this type of sentiment, then a good customer experience strategist will look for ways to revise the corporate culture, the targeted sub-segment, or the offering in order to ensure that all three are pointed in the same direction and have high levels of affinity and loyalty.
Emotional Connection in Practice
A plumbing company in San Francisco identified the need to improve their customer experience strategy by making an emotional connection with their customers. To do so, headquarters rolled out a program designed to emphasize four key behaviors:
Empathy: To help employees understand the value of empathy regarding customer interactions, the company provided worst-case-scenario role-playing opportunities, where staff members had a chance to interact with each other and provide the dialogue for situations such as a backed-up septic system, or a broken water heater in the middle of the winter. Through this type of training, plumbers became better equipped to understand the emotional context of certain types of repairs.
Listening Beyond Words: There is no such thing as a deaf customer experience strategy. The very heart of product and service alignment is rooted in the ability of a business to make micro-adjustments in response to the nuances conveyed by customers, in association with their experience with the brand.
The voice of the customer provides you with validation or points to inconsistencies between your strategy and customer preference. A brand that listens is perceived as a brand that cares. For this company, listening meant responding to the customer’s need for punctuality, and revising their customer experience strategy to include a guaranteed arrival time, or else the service was free. This change resulted in increased customer satisfaction and drove everyone in the organization to a renewed commitment for time management, resulting in increased efficiencies.
Respect: In conducting a deep dive aimed at identifying the sentiment of Net Promoter Score detractors, the plumbing company featured in this analysis found that many customers felt that plumbers were failing to engage in a way that was perceived as respectful. The issue was not politeness or the absence of it. For those reporting a proclivity to not recommend the business, their biggest issue was rooted in the lack of communication in describing issues, solutions, and costs. To tackle the problem, the customer experience strategy team incorporated standard operational procedures that included a time for Q & A with the customer, where service agents had a chance to discuss potential solutions and costs.
Prioritize Customer Needs: Emotional connections take place when you put the customer first. For the customers of this San Francisco-based plumbing company, this took the shape of extended hours and in-absentia work. By proving background-checked plumbers and having customers sign a trusted-provider form, they were able to have their plumbers in properties when the customer was not home, resulting in saved time for the customer and added scheduling flexibility for the company. Without a doubt, it was a win-win for all.
Peaks and valleys of interactivity are the cancer of a strong customer experience strategy. By finding ways to maintain a constant conversation with customers, a business can increase brand recall, improve the pattern for repeat business, and provide their most loyal customers with opportunities to be brand advocates though sharing relevant promos and information. Ramp up your customer experience strategy by maximizing your mail list or CMS. If you identify weaknesses on how you capture customer feedback and data, then find a way to get to know your customer in such a way that anything you send his or her way is “highly relevant and fosters a desire for additional engagement” says Mark at Switchback Apps.
Give Them a Reason to Come Back
Your customer experience strategy should always be on the lookout for ways to get your customers to come back again and again. What keeps them coming does not necessarily need to be based on a pricing, discount, or promotion strategy. Seek out baits that are sustainable long-term. Loyalty programs, product innovation, and special activities are among the most desirable when shaping a functional customer experience strategy.
Value the Voice of the Customer
Ramping up your customer experience strategy is all about taking your product and service to the place where it meets the implicit and explicit needs and wants of your customers. You cannot have a sound strategy if you are failing to listen to the voice of the customer.
Your frontline employees, your point-of-sale data, and your marketing surveys can help you identify what your customer really wants, and provide clarity on the direction that you should point your brand efforts. Without placing a high value on the voice of your customer, your customer experience strategy is doomed to fail.