Customer experience should be an integral part of any business, and should be defined as creating the most positive experience throughout the entirety of a business relationship, which is likely to create repeat and loyal customers.
Why is customer experience so important?
Put simply, no business (no matter how good your products are) can exist without customers who feel valued. This is why all companies should be putting the customer right at the centre of their thoughts- this applies to both existing customers, as well as potential new ones.
Over the last couple of years- and according to a survey by Bloomberg- delivering a great customer experience has become a top priority, with consumers and businesses alike looking to build relationships that are based on trust, mutual respect and getting things done (when you say you're going to do them.)
In recent studies, its become glaringly obvious that while a huge majority of companies believe they are offering a "superior service", only a small percentage of customers believe they are receiving that level of service. So, where's the discord?
There's one simple answer to this. Customer expectations are rising, and companies aren't keeping up the pace with innovative and engaging ways to interact with customers.
In a time when the customer has access to a wealth of information online, it's imperative to provide a better service than your competitors, otherwise your customers will move away from your brand. Not a nice thought when you can see all the hard work that's going in to actually finding new customers in the first place.
The best way to ensure your service is actually perceived as "superior" by those outside your office walls, is to embed your values, company goals, and staff satisfaction in your culture. Do your members of staff understand the importance of creating a great customer experience? Do customers deal with multiple members of staff- if so, do they know the company goals? Do your staff feel valued, and does that affect their attitude towards giving your customers the absolute best level of service? Are people in your organisation creating emotional connections with customers to build long-lasting relationships, or is the focus more on quick-wins to hit short-term KPIs? Are all your members of staff mentally and physically well so they're at the top level of performance? All these things matter, rather than just "being nice" to your customers.
All these questions will lead you to a conclusion on whether customers can even start to get a "good" service, never mind a "superior" service.
The overriding factor in all this is understanding who your customers are. Where do they engage with your brand, and what are they expecting from you? Once engaged with your brand, you must do all in your power to proactively capture their feedback and make them feel valued. Take the time to treat your members of staff as 'Internal Customers' and actively encourage them to provide feedback on their experiences and implement change when necessary. Your staff are on the front line of the business, and will be best-equipped to know where the pinch-points are that are making the service average rather than excellent.
If there's one thing to do away with now, it's the sense of a quick-win sale. As with personal friendships, it takes time to build trust, compassion and a full understanding of the relationship, and this must be applied in the business world. Customers will see straight through any attempts to 'get them over the line' and will inevitably go somewhere else (most likely to your biggest competitor) to seek the kind of service they've come to expect.
Away from formal strategies, company goals, and creating a brilliant culture, indulge in books around body language, how to listen (actually listen, not just pretending you are whilst waiting for a gap to shoehorn your next big thought into the conversation) and emotional intelligence (EQ.) EQ is such a big thing now (and is so vital to any form of relationship) that anyone would be a fool not to look at the massive value it adds to your offering.
By doing some, if not all, of these things, you can start to measure the ROI of investing more time in a great customer experience. Then, sit back and watch the top and bottom line of your business grow, as customers won't be able to wait to flock to your business.