How do you deliver a great customer experience that generates positive sentiment and increases customer loyalty?
There are all kinds of ways to do it, but success boils down to a few core strategies that are well within any company's reach.
In this post, we discuss how to create a great customer experience that will set your business apart from your competitors, and earn you fans, referrers and rave reviews.
What Does Customer Experience Mean?
Simply put, the customer experience is how your customers feel when interacting with your business. No matter how quick the interaction, customers will always have an impression about your business, particularly how your business makes them feel. Do they feel annoyed or empowered? Excited or ripped off? Cared for or neglected?
The goal, of course, is to leave people with a positive customer experience. That way, your customers are likely to return and - even better - tell others about you.
It's time to to take control over the type of experience you offer.
Why Is Customer Experience So Important?
Customer experience is important because it impacts customer satisfaction, brand sentiment, and the level of value your customers feel they received.
In other words, it's going to influence your retention and referral rates, how much customers spend, and other important metrics that will define your success - or failure.
If customers aren't satisfied with their experience, they'll leave, and potentially share their negative sentiment with others.
Think that cheaper prices is more important than service? Research shows that 86% of customers are willing to pay more for quality service. So, instead of slashing prices, consider keeping your price as-is and invest in customer service and success.
Now that we’ve discussed the what and why, let’s dive into “how.” Here’s how to create a top-notch customer experience:
Treat Your Customers Like Individuals
Your customers are individuals and should be treated as such. No one likes to feel like a number. But what happens when you serve a lot of customers with wide ranges of needs and interests?
Consider creating customer personas. Customer personas are fictional characters that help you speak to and represent diverse segments of your customer base. If you sell to multiple customer types with different pain problems or goals, it helps to tailor your content and support experiences for each.
For example, if you sell an app to teachers, parents, caregivers, administrators, you should have customer personas for each. This allows you to write individualized content to address each segment's unique set of problems and product use cases, with emphasis on the specific product features that matter most to each.
The more personalized your content strategy, the more relevant and relatable it will feel to your readers, in turn providing a great customer experience.
Sell Your Customers Solutions
Positive customer experiences begin with the sales process. Even if you have an amazing product or service, if you use high-pressure sales tactics to sell it, you're not likely to win fans or referrers. Win prospects over by asking questions, listening, and providing a credible solution to an existing need or pain point. Forge ahead only when there's a real fit. There's no better way to build a business or please your customers.
Onboard Your Customers
Close a deal? Customers are never more excited than immediately after they become new customers. Don't let them down or risk buyer's remorse with a poor initial experience. You'll pay for that dearly. Make sure their excitement is met with a positive impression by investing in a robust onboarding experience for every new customer. This can include:
- Sending out a series of “welcome” emails to your every new customer to set expectations and drive usage and value
- Personally reaching out via a phone call to offer personalized guidance over the phone or online meeting
- Providing helpful instructions, tutorials, and support videos to show the customer how to setup and use your product/service
- Clearly identifying how to get help and support when needed
Onboarding allows you to create a series of wins and increase value for every customer. They learn how to use your product or service and also how to realize their goals and meet their objectives. For simple products and services, the onboarding process might be a 5-10 minute call, or even short, well-crafted video instructions. For complex software, it might take multiple meetings and weeks of work.
(NOTE: PhoneBurner offers one-on-one onboarding to help you customize our software to your sales process - a $1500 value - free.)
Survey Customers Regularly
You’re not a mind reader. You can guess, but you won’t know for sure how a customer feels about your service unless you ask them about it.
There are a lot of marketing surveys you can use to understand how your customers feel about your business, but the most popular is the Net Promoter Score, also known as NPS. NPS was developed in 2003 by Bain and Company. It’s a simple feedback survey that asks participants to rate on a scale from 0 to 10, with 10 being the most favorable. For example, an NPS survey may ask “On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend our business to others?” Those who rate between 0 to 6 are known as detractors. Those who rate from 7 to 8 are passives. And those who rate from 9 to 10 are known as promoters.
When calculating your Net Promoter Score, passives don’t count. The net promoter score is the percentage of customers who promote you minus those who detract. The software companies use to survey customers can calculate score, and help you analyze your customer loyalty and satisfaction.
Combine this with other short marketing surveys designed to discover problems and identify opportunities and product ideas. Put those responses to good use and you'll continually meet the needs of your customers better than your competition.
Review Your Entire Customer Experience
Not every customer will leave feedback. In this case, you need to devise a strategy. Proactively reviewing, identifying gaps and missed opportunities, and planning superior experiences will ensure that all of your customers are taken care of, even those who aren't “squeaky wheels.”
Review the entire journey that your customer must take, and look for any potential hiccups in their experience. It's also a good idea to have someone you trust go through the entire prospect and customer journey. They could even record themselves going through the process so you can review and improve.
Consider every major milestone in your customer’s journey, and support them at each one. Consider calling your customers at vulnerable stages during their journey (such as before a renewal) to retain more of them. Consider rewarding them when they reach certain milestones.
Wondering how to reward customers who successfully complete your new customer journey or better yet, become advanced users? Take Peloton - which sells an at-home exercise bike and online service - as an example. They give you a special shirt when you get to the 100 ride milestone!
Create Self-Service Opportunities
Make it easy for your customers to help themselves. While you may offer solid customer support, some customers will prefer to help themselves if given the option. This is appealing to customers who want to set things up themselves or immediately resolve an issue without waiting for customer support to email them back.
Be sure to offer a knowledge base on your website. A knowledge base is a library of tutorials, VIDEOS, guides, and other how-to resources that help customers understand your product and troubleshoot their problems.
Respond to Customer Queries Quickly
No one wants to wait days for your customer support team to finally respond to their ticket. Make an effort to blow your customers away with absurdly quick responses. Even if your initial response is an automated acknowledgement that you've received their ticket and are working on their issue, that's better than the alternative of saying nothing.
Even if you're running a small to medium size business, you should invest in adequate support resources or make it a priority to personally respond to your customers in a prompt or timely manner.
Be Genuine in Your Desire to Help
Customers can tell when you're genuinely eager to deliver a positive experience, and when you're just dialing it in. Hire and train a team that is upbeat, friendly, and solutions-oriented. Stress the importance and value of every interaction, and praise and reward them for delivering great experiences.
Invest to Improve Customer Satisfaction
Customer service is important, but it's not the only ingredient to delivering an unforgettable customer experience. You should also create a customer success team. While customer service is more reactive (the customer reaches out and you respond), customer success is proactive (you reach out before the customer reaches out to you).
A customer success team actively checks in on customers and asks how they can be of service. They can also suggest to your customers new ways to use and derive value from your service.
Use your customer success team to stay in regular contact with your customers. Reach out via phone, email, and text messages so that your business remains “top of mind” for your customers.
Not sure what to say during your frequent check-ins? Invite customers to participate in marketing surveys. Or offer your help in case your customers aren’t hitting their business objectives with your service/product.
Show Customers That You Appreciate Them
Saying “thank you” can go a long way. Those two simple words can show customers that you care about them and their experience. To impart a unique customer experience, write a handwritten thank-you note and mail it to your new customers. Handwritten thank you notes go a very long way to cementing a great relationship with a new customer. This small sentiment will show customers not only that you’re different but also that you care about them.
Of course, you can show your gratitude, also. Provide your oldest and most loyal customers with surprise discounts or unique gifts. Don’t neglect those customers who’ve stuck with you the longest.