Let’s face; today, customers are spoilt for choice when buying a product/service online. Just look around, innumerous e-commerce stores are offering the same products as you do. With nearly limitless options, customers have an enjoyable ride, but for businesses, it means cutthroat competition.
It’s ethically and economically fit for a business to provide topnotch products and services. However, nowadays, customers remember details of their shopping experiences far better than the quality of the product/service that they purchased. This means, how you treat your customers is more important than a marginal difference in quality or price of the product.
In fact, product quality should not be the only reason customers visit your store. The quality of the product should be a bonus of exceptional customer experience – an experience customers want to repeat and even share with their friends. Implementing an outstanding customer experience strategy increases customer satisfaction while reducing customers churn.
Even though people talk about creating great customer experiences, only a few deliver one that is unique. Creating remarkable customer experiences entails, three vital aspects which include:
Personalization is one of the most critical aspects of exceptional customer experience. Personalization is about giving customers a dedicated experience that is unique to their needs. However, giving each customer a personalized, VIP treatment is easier said than done because businesses serve many customers and have endless product listings to offer.
To deliver personalized customer experiences, businesses must rigorously examine each customer to discover:
- The best communication channel to engage them.
- The customer’s interests
- The most pressing customer’s need
- How customer needs can be met.
You should try as much as you can to discover the characteristics of each customer. Numerous programs can help you understand your customers including Survey Monkey, HubSpot, Insightly, Google Forms, Crazy Egg, and KISSmetrics. Once you pinpoint the individual attributes, you can combine the details to engineer a model that will deliver a satisfying brand-customer relationship.
With customer characteristics at your fingertips, you can implement algorithms that use the information to recommend tailored offers for each customer. That said, you should not focus so much on your product/service offer, but more on the demands of your customers.
For example, if you are promoting the latest model of a pressure cooker, and come across Eva who is interested in an Instant Pot, you should recommend the latter even though it is not your brand’s flagship product. Suggesting a product that is in line with your customers’ expectations, results in increased customer engagement.
Amazon and Netflix are good examples of brands that have mastered the art of personalization. Consider Amazon; the company has one of the biggest e-commerce inventory and a huge customer base. To put this to perspective, Amazon has an overwhelming catalog with over 500 million product listings in the United States alone. However, regardless of the size of this e-commerce giant, Amazon is able to make personalized suggestions to every customer.
Same can be said about Netflix. With over 1,500 TV shows and over 4, 000 movies, it’s still easy for each customer to find an appealing episode on this platform. The company uses algorithms to suggest movies or TV shows that a customer may be interested in.
Do not underestimate the power of personalization as it is a critical part of customer experience. A study report by KPMG revealed that companies that deliver tailored experiences to their customers reap benefits such as higher revenue growth, increased customer loyalty, and improved brand reputation.
Often, many businesses concentrate on making new sales and overlook existing customers. What they forget is that existing customers can keep a business thriving and propel it to greater heights. Every customer whether new or existing should be the attention they deserve.
As you may notice, recognition spurs tremendous loyalty into the customer base and unlocks the potential for repeat businesses. Recognizing customer enhances customer experience and increases the value of future purchases.
So how can you recognize your customers?
Recognition entails following up your customers in a way that lets them know you care about the purchases they make. Follow-up is a complex process that starts once a customer makes a purchase. The process borrows a leaf from personalization, and it requires you to understand the customer’s preferences.
Here are some ways to recognize your customer:
- Send a “thank you” note immediately after the sale. Try to find out if the customer is satisfied with the product or services you offer.
- Reward your customer – One of the best ways of recognizing your customers is rewarding them. Create a loyalty program that provides customers with exclusive offers, gifts, and discount. Studies have shown that 58% of customers buy from brands whose loyalty program they belong to. Besides, a study by Harvard Business School established that loyal customer purchase more, and refer friends and families.
- Remember special occasions – Another excellent way to recognize your customer is sending them personalized messages during their special event. This could mean calling them, sending an email, an SMS, or a card. Personalize the message and follow it up with a surprise gift, where possible.
For example, if you offer internet services to Eva, the message could be something like: “Happy birthday Eva, as you turn a year older today, XYZ celebrates you with 2GB FREE data bundles….” You do not have to spend a lump sum, be creative and come up with unique ideas that make the customer feel special.
- Pass helpful information – You can also show your customer that you care by sending helpful information. For example, if you come across a new book, an article, or organization that might be helpful, make a call or drop a note to inform the customer. Moreover, when you have new offers inform the customer at the earliest.
- Send longtime customers personalized handwritten notes frequently – Handwritten notes render a more personalized feeling. If a long-term customer has not dropped by your office for long, send them a handwritten note. Something like “I was dispatching a batch to Kenya, and your name just popped up into my head. How have you been?”
Besides if you meet a longtime customer at a business forum, follow up your discussion with a note. “I was inspired by your insights at Areto Business Forum. I will call you early next week, to schedule a meeting for further discussion.”
Tap into emotions
Many customers are stimulated by emotions to shop. But regardless of this, customers buy to satisfy their needs. Whether they are buying for an occasion or special event, customers look for channels that connect their shopping experiences with these events, and that is where empathy comes in.
Empathy is vital to delivering an exceptional customer experience. Empathy is defined as the characteristics of identifying with, and understanding of the other person’s feelings, situation, and motives. To deliver exceptional customer experiences, you must understand the emotions of your customers.
Studies have shown that a business that is empathetic to its customer needs retains customers with ease and grows its bottom line rapidly. So how can a business be empathetic?
Create emotional connections with your customers
– Incredible customer experience is achieved when a business connects emotionally with its customers. Generally, emotions form the approaches that drive decisions; a study by the Journal of Consumer Research found that 50% of an experience is based on emotions.
When customers feel emotionally attached to a business, they become loyal and shop more from that business. As a result, businesses that optimize emotional connection sells 85% more than competitors.
Here is a good example of how a business can be empathetic. When Zappos realized a customer had failed to return a pair of shoes in time due to her mother’s demise, they organized for the return shipping, for free. As if that was not enough, the next day, the company sent a bouquet and a note with their condolences.
In summary, emotionally engaged customers are much less sensitive to price, more likely to recommend your product to a new customer, less likely to shop around, and three times more likely to shop again.
Make every employee support customers
– Empathy is expressed by the people behind a business. Therefore, to deliver excellent customer experience, it is vital to train employees and managers to relate to customers wisely.
This could mean organizing training workshops, creating an online community, or having a convention to teach employees how to show empathy to the customers. This way, your employee will be able to put themselves in the customers’ shoes and give solutions that make the customers feel valued.
For example, before Apple opened its first retail shop, it sent all its retail managers to a training hospitality seminar. The manager acquired vital skills that enabled them to serve customers intelligently. To date, the hospitality paradigm is the spine of Apple’s customer service, and it’s anchored on the fulfillment of needs, sincere greetings, and a sendoff that includes the customer’s name.
- Other things include practicing proactive empathy, reviewing customer experiences, soliciting feedback from customers, and responding to negative experiences.
Customer experience is critical, and will progressively grow in importance. Global brands have embraced customer experiences as a tool to improve business and have continued to set the bar higher. This coupled with the growth in technology, promises a bright future, and it’s upon you to implement this vital component. Stay abreast of the latest customer experience (CX) trends and improve your practices to refine the journey.