Ten ways to improve the customer experience
Businesses today must fight harder than ever to stop customer defections, increase same-store sales, and build customer loyalty, according to US-based customer experience improvement specialist Pete Bosse.
When confronted by customer defections, Bosse identifies the root cause of poor decisions that usually lead to bad customer experiences. Those decisions are often traced to a failure in corporate leadership, or some kind of process breakdown, or even to poor training or inadequate policies.
Bosse therefore offers ten suggested areas for businesses to explore in creating a unique and different customer experience to improve business results:
- Offer added value Enterprise car rental offers bottles of water to customers waiting in line. Buffalo Wild Wings offers 45-cent wings every Tuesday at most locations.
- Provide human contact Wal-Mart positions a human greeter at the entry of each store. USAA call centre personnel answer promptly and remain on the phone until all business is concluded. Enterprise agents accompany you outside to your car rental.
- Consider using EDLP Wal-Mart has successfully used everyday low pricing (EDLP) to expand globally. Costco uses EDLP combined with a membership fee to provide value.
- Engage the senses Starbucks uses freshly brewed coffee to address smell while Costco uses free food samples to appeal to taste.
- Create your own currency Airline miles have been wildly successful for decades and Kohl's dollars are redeemable during your next visit to Kohl's. A loyalty currency adds value to the brand.
- Listen and respond Use social media to create a dialogue and build relationships with your customers, but don't expect quick results. Gary Vaynerchuk, author of Crush It, says most companies act like young men after a first date expecting a quick social media ROI when it's really a long-term engagement leading toward marriage.
- Make it easy Best Buy offers trade-in value to customers for their used electronics, games and cellular phones to help customers acquire the next generation product.
- Recover from disappointments Trader Joes gladly replaced moulded cheese with no questions asked. McCormick & Schmick's is quick to remove an underwhelming appetizer or entree from the bill. Both know how to 'turn lemons into lemonade'.
- Treat customers well As standard, Chick-fil-A and Ritz Carlton employees respond to customer interactions with "my pleasure". When a customer feels like an employee cares, they are happier.
- Map customer touch-points If you do nothing else, identify and choreograph the customer experience that you want to deliver. Otherwise, your customer touch-points will evolve based on operational or financial constraints. Think about how Disney handles queuing lines: entertaining hundreds of people standing in line, despite hot weather, by leveraging an opportunity to excite and engage their customers.
The customer experience is entirely about engaging your customers in a way that provides a unique experience, warrants a return visit and culminates in positive customer recommendations to others.