Businesses exist to sell products, meet needs and offer services. If all your company required to be successful was to provide products to customers, though, we’d all be successful entrepreneurs. Thanks to increasing globalization, the market is more crowded than ever before. What sets you apart from your competitor is often not your core business, but the experience people have when interacting with your company. That’s why investing in the customer experience can pay dividends, and failing to do so can lead to stunted growth or even a fatal ending for your business.
Rarely do companies set out with the intention of doing the bare minimum for their customers, but it ends up being, unfortunately, all too common. By failing to invest in the entire customer journey, companies fail to provide the kind of experiences clients have come to expect. Simply selling a good product or delivering satisfactory service isn’t enough these days: you’ve got to stand out from the crowd and treat your customers like royalty in order to earn their loyalty. Otherwise, they’ll turn elsewhere to get their needs met.
Here are some ways you can improve your customer experience for huge payoffs.
Set the Tone
Consider your favorite grocery store. It might not be the closest one to your house, but you prefer it because of the yummy free samples, fresh produce, delicious smells emanating from the bakery, and friendly, helpful attendants. Compare that experience to your local store, which might have dim lighting, soft veggies, and cashiers who barely acknowledge you upon checkout. While you might buy the same things from both stores, you’ll leave one much happier than the other. You’ll likely opt for the spot with the better customer experience, even if it’s further out of your way.
Customer service is a huge part of why we do business with one company over another. A cornerstone of the customer experience, quality customer service alone can be enough for a shopper to choose you over other options. Whether through a smile and eye contact or through a friendly voice that always picks up the phone when they call, customer service can dramatically increase the goodwill someone has towards your company.
Invest in Tools
The best part? Customer service doesn’t have to be hard, nor should it be expensive. While paying for a receptionist to cover the phones 24 hours a day might seem costly, live answering services can help keep costs low and service exemplary (find out more about the average cost of an answering service here). By investing in the needs of your customers, you invest in the long-term relationship you form with them.
The customer experience doesn’t stop with quality customer service and atmosphere. Like all relationships, communication between company and client is critical. By offering chances for feedback, you’ll increase your transparency and show that you are indeed listening to the needs of your customer. Simple surveys can reveal helpful information about the customer experience. Asking for feedback shows that you’re willing to face your flaws and do better for your guests.
Meet Customers Where They Are
Just offering your services through a storefront or website isn’t enough these days. To truly invest in the customer experience, you’ll need availability across channels. Should someone have an issue, they’ll want to contact you on their terms. Offering online chat, a customer service email address and, of course, the good old-fashioned support phone number are musts for success in the modern business world.
While it may seem obvious, this kind of availability adds to the customer experience. You’ll not only be seen as transparent, open and ready to tackle issues for your clients, but you’ll also gain points for your reputation. After all, there’s nothing quite as helpful as being able to reach a company through the channel you prefer.
Rewarding customer loyalty is another excellent way to invest in the customer experience. The classic example of “buy nine sandwiches and get the tenth free” shows just how simple the process can be. While the premise might not work for your business, the idea is universal: reward customers who love your offerings and they’ll return time and time again. Whether through discounts, freebies, or referral bonuses, a plan to reward customer loyalty is a must when designing your customer experience.
Ultimately, any successful company needs to align their goals towards those of the customer. Rather than focusing solely on profits, it’s essential to invest the time and money required to build a great customer experience (spoiler alert: this will lead to greater profits in the long run). Foster a customer-centric culture from the inside out of your business. With the whole organization on the same page regarding the expectations and needs of the consumer, you’ll be better prepared to deliver on those promises.
While investing in the customer experience may not have immediate or flashy results, you’ll no doubt see the impact in your bottom line. Consumers don’t mind spending money when they enjoy their encounters with a business and their people. Take the steps necessary to invest in that experience, and it will pay dividends.