A customer’s experience could be considered the foundation for company success. If a customer feels valued and well-served, chances are they will return to you if they need your product or service. If not, they will likely look elsewhere when they have further need.
Since it can cost six to 10 times more to get a new customer than to keep an existing one, why wouldn’t a business focus intensely on making sure customers have an amazing experience?
Every company has a brand, and whether it puts time and resources into building it or not, it does exist. This brand and its essence are the beating heart of the business. To understand the customer experience, you must also understand all that the brand promises.
A brand is built on reputation, quality, products, people, feeling and the consistency of those when served up to the customer time after time. Yet, there are continually inconsistencies with these qualities in many businesses. Most inconsistencies aren’t known until a customer has an unfortunate experience and either goes quietly away or communicates how they felt unappreciated.
6 Tips to Improve the Consistency of the Customer Experience
New and veteran employees alike should be informed and trained in new processes, products, company changes, etc., and helped to understand the business case behind each. Lack of consistency in service is often the silent killer of company growth and tells a story from the inside out of an organization.
If one area of your business does not deliver consistent service, it is a reflection of the entire company, not just the individual who provided the bad service. Have you ever “experienced” Disney? How every employee seems to love their job and how that makes you enjoy the experience even more? Don’t underestimate the value training can bring to an organization and to a customer’s experience.
2. Change the lens
Changing the lens so that you see your business from the customer point of view can be transforming. Apply that lens to all the elements that go into a customer’s journey — from their first company contact to the point when they receive the bill, to a follow-up process to make sure that you delivered on their needs. What was their experience at each step of the journey? Was service consistent, were there gaps where another step should be added? Did you ask them?
Getting feedback from the customer is important to see the experience through their eyes. A customer can often point out little issues (or big ones) that can be changed, resulting in an improved bottom line and better overall brand and product alignment. Customers aren’t numbers, they are far more.
People are the foundation of any company’s culture. How they interact with customers, the marketplace and other employees are critical. Mismatches between employees and a company’s culture affect the client experience. Have you heard the phrase “happy employees equal happy clients”? Well, there is extensive research proving it to be true. If your employees are overworked, unappreciated or feel they are not valued, this will impact your customer experience and eventually employee and client retention.
4. Take time
Spending time with customers is important to understanding their needs. How well do you really know your customers and their industry? I promise there is more to them than just what you know today. When you spend time with the customer it also deepens and strengthens your knowledge of them. It is then important to go beyond just your relationship with the customer and share that knowledge with others in your organization. This shared knowledge can help build knowledgeable team members who consistently deliver on client promises because they share a common concern for the client’s goals and objectives.
5. Encourage ideas
Service and product enhancements should be encouraged, recognized and rewarded. Few companies have a formal program to recognize improved performance or product enhancement. This gets people excited about what they do and builds loyalty to a company. I heard an NFL legend say “reward activity you want to see more of.” His words have never rung truer. Whether it be in praise or recognition, financial or otherwise, you will be surprised at the difference it will make in the employee and the company as a whole.
6. Empower team members
Give your employees flexibility to take actions that make a customer happy. Have them share their thoughts with you on how those actions impact the customer’s relationship with the company, and then recognize them for it. You never know when something simple, done at the right time, can make the greatest difference in the overall experience.
We have someone at our company that consistently remembers birthdays. This person may not be well acquainted with each employee, but knows that a person’s birthday is an important day to that individual. He makes it even more special. Imagine a client who has a bad day, birthday or has a new child or grandchild. Employees should feel empowered to recognize this and make it memorable for the client. Additionally, if a client is having an issue or a challenge, jumping in to learn more about it and brainstorming ways to solve the problem or resolve an issue, endears them to the client and the company.
There are likely other categories to add to the list, but these powerful six are a good start. Remember, to change your customer’s experience you can start with one area, move the needle and impact the customer. Then celebrate and take another step. Becoming a company recognized for delivering an amazing customer experience is a journey, not a sprint – and it begins with a single positive interaction.
Leisa Gill is Director of Client Experience and leader of the Privately Held Business Segment at LBMC, a premiere Tennessee-based professional services firm. Contact Leisa at firstname.lastname@example.org or 615-309-2231.