Customer experience is the lifeblood of your business. Depending on the quality of the customer experience, your customers will either enjoy it or endure it.
How your company treats customers affects their behavior – for better or for worse. If it provides a frictionless customer experience, your company will not only gain satisfied repeat customers, but customer advocates, too. In an era where people air their grievances to an audience of millions via social media, stories of brands going above and beyond are gaining media attention and consumer trust and wallet.
At this juncture, it’s well worth noting the words of Warren Buffett who said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” In the customer experience space, doing things differently takes strategy.
How to Create a Customer Experience Strategy
Brands that excel in customer experience don’t do so by chance. They know how to create a customer experience strategy (and they execute it down to the letter).
A customer experience strategy is the process of defining, planning and documenting a company-wide approach to providing a frictionless customer experience by understanding customer behavior and exceeding customer expectations.
The key to creating an effective customer experience strategy is to remove friction – the resistance a customer encounters when they move through the customer lifecycle. This can be anything from ‘speed bumps,’ like long customer service waiting times, or ‘roadblocks,’ such as escalated customer service enquiries.
Customer Experience Best Practices
PwC’s ‘Future of Customer Experience’ 2018 survey found that, “in the US, even when people love a company or product, 59% will walk away after several bad experiences, 17% after just one bad experience.” So, perhaps now more than ever, it’s essential for your company to remove friction from the customer experience.
Here are five customer experience best practices to cultivate a frictionless customer experience.
- Treat Customers Like People (Not Numbers)
Growth is good but, when your customer service team goes from managing a handful of customers a week to 100 customers a day, it becomes difficult to keep track of service enquiries.
With an exponential growth in customers, customer service agents have been taught to focus on getting through as many customers or support tickets as quickly as possible. But they should instead, be given the tools to be able to focus on quality of service.
You put your customers at the heart of every interaction by simply changing how you view your agents. Service agents were once only seen as a cost of doing business. Now the customer service team is a major revenue driver for brands. They are in direct contact with the customer and can, therefore, make the most impact.
When agents can only see case numbers and tickets, it is more difficult to deliver personal customer service. When agents, however, see customer names and their preferences, this sets up the interaction to be immediately personal and solution-driven. This customer-centric strategy also means that the agent has more autonomy to help the customer, instead of having to transfer them or put them on hold. Behind-the-scenes tools like peer-to-peer collaboration enables agents to access information quickly. This is crucial to building relationships since agents can assist without having to switch communication channels or transfer customers to another agent.
- Reduce Customer Service Waiting Times
Time is one of the most common points of friction.
Most customers are pressed for time. When they call to speak to an agent, the longer they’re left on hold, the greater the likelihood of them seeing red mist.
Having a customer-centric approach means your customers aren’t put on hold while agents liaise with specialists. Having a way to route customers to agents who are best-suited to solve their issue from the get-go reduce wait times and friction.
In addition, offering your customers an omnichannel experience means they can reach out to your company using the channel most convenient for them – from modern forms of contact, such as email, chat, SMS and Facebook Messenger to good old-fashioned phone calls.
In its report, ‘Retailing 2020: Winning in a polarized world,’ PwC found that the number of companies investing in the omni-channel experience increased from 20% to more than 80%. This is supported by a recent Forrester study entitled, ‘The Total Economic Impact of Adobe Experience Cloud,’ which found that the sharp rise in omni-channel providers is not without good reason. According to Forrester, the omnichannel experience resulted in:
- a 25% increase in web and mobile conversion rates;
- a 10% uplift in average order values; and
- 10% year-over-year (YOY) growth in loyalty program membership.
- Increase Personalization (Wherever Possible)
Loyal customers are valuable customers.
They not only spend the most money, but they’re also willing to get on their soapboxes to share rave reviews about your company’s products or services.
One way of ‘repaying’ loyal customers for their allegiance and support is to personalize their experience. How? By simply remembering who they are!
Making customers feel known means agents seeing customer profiles and past communications on all channels – all on one screen. With this information, agents can assure your customers that they know who they are, what they like and what their history is (no customer recap necessary). It also enables agents to help your customers quickly and efficiently – in some cases, by recommending a product that they know your customer will fall head over heels in love with.
It’s this kind of VIP treatment that positively impacts customer engagement, which Gallup defines as, “an emotional and rational attachment to a product or business.” Gallup’s research reveals that “customers who are fully engaged represent a 23% premium in terms of share of wallet, profitability, revenue and relationship growth over the average customer.”
- Eradicate Data Silos
In a company, silos are seldom good. They almost always result in a lack of openness, transparency, efficiency and trust. A data silo is raw information that can be accessed by one department, but is isolated from the rest of the company. It’s another issue that often causes friction.
Let’s say Adam is experiencing a recurring problem with one of your company’s e-commerce retail products. He calls the customer service help desk twice only to be given a solution that doesn’t work. Then Adam’s wife, Eve, calls the help desk on his behalf and expects them to fix the problem once and for all. But if the original help desk agent didn’t make a company-wide record of Adam and Eve’s prior interactions, other agents won’t know that they experienced this problem before. Consequently, the help desk will probably relay the same (failed) troubleshooting steps – frustrating the living daylights out of Adam and Eve who will feel that your company is incapable of fulfilling their needs.
This example highlights two big problems. First, the help desk representative cannot see the history of poor Adam having called more than once. Second, the customer support team cannot see that Eve is in the same household as Adam. By simply having all of Adam and Eve’s calls in one, streamlined place, any agent could have easily been able to see their history of calling in, acknowledged their frustration and been able to provide a solution.
Having a fully-connected customer relationship management tool gives agents complete historical customer information at their fingertips, which improves the customer experience since all agents will be well aware if your customers have previously reached out to your company (and they can act accordingly). Having information in one place means agents can become service heroes and customers will never have to repeat themselves over and over. It’s a win-win for everyone.
- Provide Proactive Customer Service
Prevention is better than cure.
Sometimes, it’s possible to stop friction before it even starts. One way your company can do this is by creating a knowledge base to alert customers to potential obstacles up ahead.
The most proactive solution is having a self-service chat widget that helps your customers troubleshoot common problems on their own instead of connecting with agents. As customers are increasingly willing to find answers themselves, self-service is fast becoming the ‘new normal.’
With a growing number of companies competing mainly on customer experience, why not check out our demo to see how Gladly can help your customers enjoy frictionless customer experience? Sign-up today.
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