Online shopping has become a norm for everyone who is looking to shop with ease, speed, and convenience at their fingertips. Now, with all the retailer shops around, it’s hard to figure out where to go and build your loyalty upon. This is the reason why companies should invest in providing the best customer experience and be a memorable brand for their buyers.
Building a great customer experience and continuously improving it requires company-wide commitment—and that can’t happen with just a handful of meetings. You’ll need a comprehensive plan that gets everyone on the same page, which is what a customer experience strategy is all about.
Focus on Customer Experience Strategy
Customer experience goes beyond just the sales funnel but how your customers get to feel the vibe and culture of a brand with that personalized touch. A customer experience (CX) strategy is the set of plans, actions, and guidelines designed to create and maintain a memorable customer experience.
A successful CX strategy demands something from every department because your customers' experience always spans the entire journey: it begins the moment they discover your company and continues across all subsequent interactions including purchases, support calls, repurchases, and word-of-mouth referrals. Yes, the whole nine yards of the customer experience strategy.
There is so much competition these days and customers expect a great deal of personal care these days, and if you can’t give it to them, they’re more likely than ever to walk away and go the other direction.
Customers have more options today and they can always change their minds all the time. It makes sense: not long ago when a customer left for a competitor, the switch involved a fair bit of risk and no guarantees.
For instance, a customer might go through the trouble of finding a new supplier only to learn that they have an inferior product after all, or terrible support, problems with fulfillment, etc. Rather than wasting time to end up back at square one, many customers would stomach whatever issues they had and stick with a mediocre supplier.
Today, these risks are reduced because customers can easily research a company online such as on different social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, and others; before giving it a try. In other words, your customers have options like never before, and you’ve got to make a real impression if you want to retain their business.
The good news? If you create a flawless and happy customer journey, you are likely to be successful. And it all begins with a great customer experience strategy.
Ways to Build Your Customer Experience Strategy
You want to get customers that are so happy and satisfied with your products and services that they’ll spread the word. This will generate more loyal customers, repeat buyers, and of course, new leads for your business. If you’re ready to build your strategy and you want to do it right, the following three steps will help you create stronger customer relationships that live beyond the initial purchase—and hopefully last a lifetime.
Many companies fail not because they have weak products or services but because of poor customer experience strategies. The best customer experience is rooted in one principle: treat your customers how you would like to be treated.
Developing this mindset should start from top to bottom. When leadership and executives model a customer-first mindset and fully buy into the strategy, the rest of the company is more likely to follow suit. A culture of one-to-one interactions and constant improvement of product, service, and operations will provide an intimate, successful experience for every customer.
Companies with the most mature customer experience management had the strongest buy-in company-wide—it starts with leadership, and trickles down through the rest of the team. This develops that ripple effect that makes the company a winner in customer experience. Here are some tips to get there:
- Focus on Leadership Buy-In. Make sure the C-suite understands that a great customer experience can increase loyalty, and higher retention rates lead to greater profits.
- Get Genuine Customer Feedback. Your customers can tell you more than other studies can. Get the information straight from your buyers and you’ll never go wrong with that. Gathering customer feedback and sharing it throughout the company will help everyone create a better experience. Product teams will design with customers in mind, Marketing will produce messages more aligned with customer drives, and customer service will better relate to customer struggles and find creative solutions.
- Be Customer-Centric from Day One. Customer-centric measures should be integrated into the culture of the company. Ensure that all new hires understand your company’s mission, values, and commitment to creating a seamless customer experience. Each employee has the power to impact the experience—and they need to be educated about it, and empowered to improve it.
- Provide Continuous Training and Support. Making customer-centricity a core feature of your business requires regular training to reinforce its principles. Give employees direct feedback so they understand how to improve, and empower them to find creative solutions to customers’ problems.
- Develop Transparency. Transparency is important when it comes to your improvement efforts because it unites everyone and pushes them toward the same goal. Be honest about wrong turns, and explain the rationale for trying and adopting new approaches.
The experience extends beyond the screen. It’s the sum of all the little touchpoints that someone has with the product or company—the content on social media, the interaction they have with customer service, the emails you send them, the in-store experience or packaging, and the actual digital product experience.
Too often, companies get attached to the product and lose sight of the people. Some tangible ways to help evangelize the story of the product are to routinely review and discuss the customer journey, share research and insights about customers, invite people from other departments into the user research process, and circulate customer testimonials and praise to help keep the actual people top of mind.
Delivering a great product experience may help the customer achieve an outcome. But what stops them from moving to a competitor that comes along is the trust and loyalty that’s formed through all the little touchpoints in the entire experience.
Know and Understand Your Customers
Some businesses or entrepreneurs think they have their customers figured out only to find out that they don’t get it. You can’t just assume – you have to get the information straight from your customers and not play guessing games. Ask them.
You probably have some idea of what your customers want, but there are needs, drives, and struggles you haven’t considered if you’ve never gathered their feedback. That’s why the most successful companies base everything they do—from product creation to marketing and fulfillment—on what customers tell them they want.
Figuring out what your customers want can have a huge payoff. In order to be successful, you must not just stop at knowing your customers but also move the needle towards understanding them better by getting direct feedback from them. Here are the ways to do it:
- On-page Surveys and Feedback Widgets. Website feedback tools like polls that you can just slide on a page while people are visiting it, and you can ask any question you’ll like about any aspect of your business—from how they heard about you, to what they’re looking for, to what they’re struggling to find. You can also use feedback widgets to collect visual feedback via angry-to-happy emoji scales.
- Interview Your Customers. Develop empathy by interviewing your customers. Customer interviews won’t give you the volume of data that surveys will, but they offer something else that’s equally valuable: interviews help you empathize with your customers by hearing their stories, and you can uncover pain points and psychological drives they were maybe not even aware of until you asked. Customers want to be with a company that actually wants to build a relationship with them and not just there for the quick sale.
- Chat Logs and Support Tickets. With the integration of a customer support ticketing system, you’re capturing all kinds of information about your customers and the experience they’re having with your company and products. Mining the data within your support tickets, along with chat logs for both sales and support, will help you spot trends and opportunities for improvement.
Since support ticket and chat log data is essentially a big pile of open-ended feedback, you can use the method we recommend for analyzing open-ended questions when it comes to analyzing the feedback and deriving actionable insight.
Communication is Key!
Getting the information you need would require polling, surveying, or hopping on the phone. But if you want to create an excellent customer experience, you need to understand your customer on a deep level. At ShopGT, we make it a habit to talk to our customers on the phone to understand what they need and what they want.
We deploy surveys to our top customers to help redefine our messaging and product development. More so, we apply surveys to people who cancel or want a refund because we want to find out where we can improve overall.
Overall, if you want to deliver an amazing customer experience, the single most important thing you can do is learn more about your customers so you can custom tailor that experience to them.
It’s not rocket science. Communication is a vital part of the customer journey and it is simply building a deeper and more personalized relationship with your customer.
Become a Memorable Brand
It’s important to put a recognizable face into your brand so customers can see, feel, hear, and communicate with you on all levels.
Have you ever been led through a sales funnel that lacked a human touch? It might be hard to put your finger on it, but the experience may just leave you feeling like a cog in an automated wheel. More so, have you ever struggled with a website or a product to the point where you realized it wasn't worth your time, and you just left?
Ponder about how frustrated you’d be given the following situations:
- You’ve some questions about a product or service and you can’t find the answers on the website, plus you can’t find an easy way to reach out for help
- When you’ve reached customer support, they would just shoot for a canned pitch without really listening to your concerns
- You badly need to return a product or make refunds and replacement, but there are so many hoops to jump through you just want to give up
Given the above scenarios, this company probably wouldn’t win your loyalty, much less your referral, because they failed to deliver a human experience. To make matters worse, the entire process included unnecessary friction, making every step much harder than it needed to be.
Speak in Your Customers’ Language
Companies who are heavily invested in branding know this mantra by heart. You have to speak in your customer’s language to tap into their emotions and win their loyalty and trust. Study your feedback data to identify common customer pain points, and explain how you can solve them. Include testimonials that show how you’ve done it and Frequently Asked Questions that provide real value to curious prospects. Re-use your customers’ actual words wherever you can.
If your brand is more focused on speaking or getting the word out to everyone without even listening to your customers then you’re bound to lose them in the end. Although not everyone wants to speak with a human being, some might appreciate having the option. Train your sales staff to listen first, so they can resonate with a prospect’s emotional state. Then, and only then, can they work to turn the prospect into a customer.
Focus on Speed
Speed is the winning element in any business. Communicate fulfillment and/or shipping information immediately, offer quick delivery and easy returns, and give easy access to customer support. Respond quickly and, if you can offer multi-channel support (phone, chat, email). You have to wow your customers and surprise them with speedy and reliable services that make it all worth the price tag of your services.
We are Deeply Invested in Customer Experience
At ShopGT, we value the customer journey and we are heavily invested in providing our customers the best experience ever. The above approaches are important, and they have an impact on word-of-mouth growth. But time after time, I've learned that delivering an outstanding experience always comes back to one, much simpler thing:
The faster you help someone, the more impressed they are with your service. So, the one thing I'd say to do is: scale your support operations with a focus on getting back to your customers as fast as possible and wow them with timely, helpful replies. You just have to take that pause and listen so you will know how to respond better and faster to deliver the best customer experience ever!