Customer service has always been an important part of running a business. It’s how companies address questions, problems, and needs. Without it, maintaining a solid customer base would be nearly impossible.
So for business owners and marketers with even the tiniest bit of experience, this is nothing new. What is relatively new, though, is a widespread focus on customer experience.
Today, many businesses believe that providing a great customer experience is just as important as excellent service. As a result, consumers are beginning to expect more from brands than ever before.
What is Customer Experience?
Before we jump into the necessary steps for creating a great customer experience, it’s essential to determine what, exactly, the term means. And it’s not merely a new way of describing customer service.
While customer service involves helping customers when they actively seek assistance, customer experience involves every stage of the buying process. It’s the full experience each person has with your brand, from the moment they arrive on your site, to their first purchase, to each of their interactions with your team.
And it’s up to the business to make each of these interactions positive ones. In many cases, for example, your company’s website will play a significant role in prospective customers’ impressions of your brand. A site designed with user experience in mind can make browsing a seamless process, and make all the difference in whether a visitor decides to purchase.
From there, the way your company handles packaging, shipping, and tracking can impact a customer’s satisfaction with their order. Then, your methods of asking for and responding to reviews can play a role in the customer’s perception of how much the company values their satisfaction and feedback.
Each of these steps contribute to a customer’s overall experience with your brand — and they’re only a handful of the possible types of interactions they may have over the course of the buying process.
Today’s consumers are aware of these differences. In fact, 86% of customers will pay more for a better customer experience. Unfortunately, only 1% of customers feel that vendors consistently meet their expectations. And while this indicates that many brands’ approaches to customer experience are lacking, it also presents a huge opportunity for those that make it a priority.
4 Tips for Improving Your Brand’s Customer Experience
It’s clear that many businesses aren’t providing the experiences their customers want. But if your approach is lacking, improving it doesn’t need to be a complicated or costly endeavor — and the following four tips will help you get started.
1. Focus on Communication
Although customer service and customer experience aren’t synonymous, service does play a significant role in the overall experience each customer has with your brand. And one of the best ways to improve your company’s customer experience is by shifting the mindset you use for your service interactions.
That’s because many support teams make the mistake of focusing solely on fixing the problems customers bring to their attention.
While this is certainly an important goal, it’s essential not to treat each interaction as an issue to resolve. Instead, you should view them as opportunities to communicate. Although their problems may be similar, it’s important to remember that each customer is different.
This means that you can’t just provide cookie-cutter solutions. First, aim to understand why your customers feel and act the way that they do by getting to the root of each of their problems. Then, be patient and exercise empathy — and make sure to acknowledge their feelings of frustration before offering solutions.
If your customer service goals currently only center on resolving tickets quickly and efficiently, this may sound like an odd approach. But considering that in one survey, 50% of respondents said that companies should provide “more human service,” it might be just the approach you need to provide a great customer experience.
2. Provide Personalized Experiences
Part of creating an excellent customer experience is making sure that each of your customers feels valued by your business.
One of the best ways to do this is to treat them as individuals and to provide experiences that are customized to their needs. This not only shows that they’re not just a number to your company but can also help you deliver more effective and helpful service.
Unfortunately, unless you’re an extremely small business, it would be nearly impossible to establish a personal connection with each of your customers. But thanks to advanced customer service tools, your team can save relevant details for each of them.
For example, Freshdesk’s Customer 360 lets our users import customer data from a CRM or edit it directly on the platform to make assisting customers easier. Storing details like a customer’s past purchase activity and interactions with your company eliminates the need for them to provide the information you should already have.
Plus, it allows you to tailor your communication with them right from the start. This way, you can skip the basic questions — and get straight to providing assistance that’s in line with their past experiences with your brand.
3. Go the Extra Mile
Many of the customers who reach out to your business are looking for simple, straightforward answers or solutions. As a result, your team is likely skilled in resolving these requests in a matter of minutes.
But it’s also worth it to look for opportunities to go above and beyond these standard responses. And this doesn’t have to involve a grand gesture to be effective. For example, when one Twitter user reached out to M&S Bank for information about coin machine locations, the employee running their account didn’t have an immediate answer.
But instead of telling this user to call their local branch, the employee made the call themself. This step likely only took the customer service representative an extra minute or two. Still, it eliminated the need for the customer to make a call and simplified their process of getting a straightforward answer.
So as you look for ways to improve your approach to service, focus on providing convenience. The easier you make it be a customer, the more effective you’ll be at providing a positive customer experience.
4. Be Proactive
Some of your customers will reach out as soon as they run into an issue. Others will simply stop being your customers. So as you look for ways to improve the experience you provide, you shouldn’t just wait for customers to reach out with complaints or issues.
Fortunately, collecting feedback doesn’t have to be a complicated process. For example, Best Western sends automated survey emails after guests check out of their hotel rooms. This type of email is an easy way to keep tabs on your customers’ feelings toward your brand.
If your respondents have complaints, you can take steps toward remedying them and ensuring that other customers don’t run into the same issues. This way, you can eliminate the chances of losing a customer without the opportunity to make things right, and use their feedback to improve the overall experience your company provides.
By making customer experience a priority, you can shape the way that each of your customers perceive and interact with your company. Fortunately, creating a positive experience doesn’t require a complex strategy.
Provide open lines of communication, personalize interactions where you can, and be proactive about collecting feedback. Then, when you see an opportunity, don’t be afraid to go the extra mile. These four simple steps can go a long way in improving the experience each customer has with your brand, and help your company build the loyal customer base you need for success.