Put simply, it was painful. Despite the fact that it wasn’t the first time I had to contact the company for the same problem, I still had to repeat what it was. To make matters worse, it felt as if I was intruding on the agent’s time by merely bringing it up. He was disinterested, and failed to make me feel like the “valued customer” the chirpy auto-responder assured me I was after being kept on hold for 5 minutes.
We’re all familiar with how often customers share their bad experiences with businesses. But after my poor experience, I was still surprised at how frequently I brought it up with friends and family. It really drove home just how important great customer experience is. Word of mouth drives so much for brands. Too often brands overlook the power of customer interactions in favor of focusing on metrics such as website traffic, click-throughs, and ‘likes’. But remember, above all else is the customer. And nothing drives success like a satisfied customer.
In light of this, here are three ways to improve customer experience:
1. Boost the employee experience
One the most important factors that influences a positive customer experience is employee satisfaction. Employees who love their job and the company they work for, are more likely to communicate how great a product or service is to customers.
You can increase employee satisfaction with flexible work hours, offering rewards or using gamification. Yet, one of the most powerful methods is to ensure satisfaction before an employee’s first day commences. Define expectations and the purpose of the role for new employees in a thorough orientation process. Problems arise when roles aren’t clearly outlined holistically.
So in addition to clearly stating WHAT an employee’s role involves and HOW to do it, also emphasize WHY it’s important. Align the WHY with the customer so you can illustrate the power of what that employee is helping a customer achieve. This gives employees purpose from day one.
Defining the expectations for a new hire early helps businesses maintain strong retention rates. And a customer service team bolstered with experienced employees can solve more problems for customers.
2. Diversify your customer contact points, but maintain one message
Among the predicted customer experience trends in 2016 is an increase in multi-channel customer servicing. This trend speaks to the changing communication preferences of today’s consumers. Businesses cannot rely solely on traditional platforms, such as email or call centers, for their customer communication. In fact, 77% of US consumers believe companies that offer multiple channels as part of their customer service are easier to do business with, according to research by Aspect Software.
The same research also suggests 67% of consumers feel more in control of their relationship with a company if it offers multiple channels for customer communication. SMS, chat, social media, self-service and mobile apps are all channels through which you can reach customers and answer questions. Use them.
As multi-channel customer service grows, consistency across these contact points will become even more important. Enter the omni-channel experience. Quality customer service is built on more than just being present in a variety of channels, it requires businesses to be delivering the same message through these channels. 68% of consumers say they’re annoyed when they have to repeat themselves. This means businesses must focus on delivering remarkable customer experiences that flow across separate channels.
Virgin are masters of this, and are constantly going above and beyond to please customers. In one instance, Robert Fransgaard, the European Creative Director for Salesforce Customer Experience Design, had an amazing experience with Virgin Atlantic’s omni-channel customer service. Using a combination of marketing channels, Robert was connected with a helpful member of Virgin Atlantic’s social media team who was able to provide multiple solutions to his problem.
The point is to unify all customer-facing departments in your company under one core mission so your customers are getting the same great experience with each interaction. Problems arise when your company is split into silos and each department has its own approach to dealing with customer problems.
The bottom line is you must show your customers you care by getting to know them and identifying the problems they are facing.
3. Less talking and more listening
Most companies are aware of the negative effects of poor customer service. After all, bad news travels fast. But what’s interesting is that a typical business will hear from only 4% of dissatisfied customers. Worse still, 91% of those customers will never come back. This means many companies don’t know when they’re customer service needs improving.
To prevent your business from experiencing the same customer service pitfalls, it’s important to allocate more resources to listening to customers. For example, every brand should be monitoring online mentions and conversations through social media to identify instances where customer expectations haven’t been met.
Furthermore, companies need to acknowledge that only 8% of conversations occur online, according to Brad Fay and Ed Keller, authors of the renowned book, The Face-to-Face Book: Why Real Relationships Rule in a Digital Marketplace. This means the challenge is even greater for brands to get a true grasp on their customer’s feelings towards them.
Monitoring offline channels is time-intensive and challenging, particularly compared to online conversations. It requires face-to-face interaction and raw data that’s only available by going out in the field. However, you can monitor offline channels with regular surveys, polls and focus groups involving current and prospective customers. Additionally, you can influence word-of-mouth marketing ( still the biggest driver of sales for brands ) by striving to exceed customer expectations with every interaction they have with your brand.
There’s certainly plenty more work that goes into developing a strong customer experience strategy. But these three areas will help you align the business goals with the goals of the customer. No matter what strategies you implement, if you are truly committed to developing a customer-driven business, each business objective should be determined on how it impacts the customer. Keep the customer top-of-mind and constantly develop new ways to delight them.
Otherwise you’ll be the center of attention at the dinner table, coffee shop, or water cooler for all the wrong reasons.
Find out how Pypestream can help you improve Customer Experience at your company through streamlined communication.