Deliver a Customer Experience That Creates Happy Customers
By Betty Uribe, Ed.D.
When it comes to the success of your business, it is no longer enough to focus on customer service; in today’s environment, the focus on creating a defined customer EXPERIENCE is critical. A large percentage of revenue comes from existing customers and it can cost up to five times as much to attract a new customer than to retain an existing one. Keeping customers happy makes good economic sense.
Everyone knows the golden rule: “Treat others like you want to be treated.” I like to talk about the Platinum Rule: “Treat Others like THEY Want to be Treated.”
When it comes to creating a defined customer experience, patrons generally look for:
- Knowledgeable staff that is friendly and professional
- Efficient service
- Store presentation/environment
While many retailers focus on these six areas, creating a defined experience takes a little time and effort. A business owner must be clear about:
- Who is your target customer?
- What industry trends have affected your target customer?
- What type of value can you add to your target customer?
Studies show that those customers who have been offered valued advice for their business TWO TIMES in the last 12 months, tend to stay with their bank longer. This begs for the question: What are you doing to keep yourself relevant to your customers? How are you adding value to your relationship with your clients? What are you doing differently to create a differentiated, unique experience?
A good customer experience plan addresses your customer's perception of the quality and price of your product, response to their questions and problem resolution. Make it a top priority to develop a culture of service at your company.
Customer Experience Begins At Home: Treat your employees with the same respect and service that you would expect them to give to your customers; make them feel valued, as though they have a stake in the success of the company. According to the Customer Service Institute, most customers don't follow through on the sale because of a perceived attitude or indifference toward them by an employee.
Use these tips to ensure that every employee and customer experience is a positive one in your company:
- Be knowledgeable and accessible. Your customers may have questions before, during and after the sale. Provide as many avenues for answering their questions as you can and place an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) section on your website.
- Be reliable. If you say your product will ship on Monday, then ship it on Monday.
- Be proactive.
- Train your employees well and make sure your policies and procedures enhance your customer experience goals. When you do encounter a problem, learn from your mistakes and then train and empower your employees accordingly.
- Alert your customers to problems before they have a chance to complain. If you can't deliver on something you promised, be upfront.
- Be responsive.
- Answer questions quickly and accurately. Sometimes issues can become bigger if a customer has to wait for you to respond.
- Resolve issues quickly and generously. If you do receive a complaint, take the call with the attitude that it’s an opportunity to crate a “Raving Fan!.” Do everything you can to fix the problem. Show sincere concern for any discomfort, frustration, or inconvenience. Then go above and beyond by giving your customers something positive to remember: a discount on future orders or an upgrade on their purchase. Restoring customer goodwill is worth the price in future orders and new business through positive word-of-mouth.
- Empower your employees to resolve issues. Frustration levels will increase each time a customer is transferred to another person.
- Appreciate your complaining customers. Customers with complaints can be your best allies in building and improving your business. They point out where your system is faulty and where your products fall below expectation. Studies show that customers whose complaints are resolved tell an average of five people about their experience.
- Follow up. Contact your customers to make sure they received their orders in good condition, and that they are satisfied with your product. Asking for feedback after a problem has been resolved can also help you measure how well your procedures are working and to identify any areas that need improvement.
- Add a personal touch. Instill a sense of investment and devotion in clients by cultivating personal relationships with them. Going above and beyond demonstrates an attention to detail they probably won't get elsewhere. You might mail handwritten notes, have periodic giveaways or offer special customer appreciation programs.
Betty Uribe is an Executive Vice President of California Bank & Trust, which recently launched a new financing initiative aimed at minority and women-owned businesses in California called TEAM (Tools, Education, Access and Mentoring). For more information, please visit http://www.calbanktrust.com/team.