Consumers today want to feel connected to the companies they interact with. Creating unforgettable customer experiences is how forward-thinking companies have managed to build their market share and stay profitable through difficult financial times. Here’s how you can do it too.
Differentiate yourself from the competition
Customer experience is what will set your business apart from your competitors. It is one of the most valuable ways to differentiate your business, and although it requires an investment in terms of attitude and approach, it doesn’t necessarily have to mean a big expense.
Unforgettable customer experiences are not done through advertising, lofty promises or gimmicks. They take place through interactions that are engaging and meaningful to your target market.
The challenge is to synchronise the various functions within your business (eg. human resources, marketing, operations) so that every individual in every department subscribes to your business ethos and is willing and able to convey that to your customers. Remember, your brand sells a promise and it is up to your people to keep the promise.
- Test out what it would feel like to be your own customer – from the first point of contact right through to after sales service.
- Identify the service superheroes within your organisation and realise what a valuable asset they are. Nurture them, promote them, and place them in positions where their service ethos can rub off on others.
- Dont hire staff just because they can do the job – hire for attitude!
Retain your customers
To win customer loyalty, you need to offer a customer experience that resonates with your customer’s values, beliefs and emotions.
The best way to do this is to learn more about your customers, so collect and analyse all the customer feedback you can get your hands on. And with negative feedback, it is crucial to fix the problem as quickly as possible through personal contact (eg a phone call or email).
- Check and respond to complaints on websites such as Hello Peter (www.hellopeter.com) and Get Closure (www.getclosure.co.za).
- If you have “erred”, admit it. Being honest and transparent with your customers will gain you their trust and loyalty in the long run.
- Create a social media presence for your brand. Many businesses shy away from social media because they’re afraid of negative feedback. But social media allows you to receive feedback through a platform you can keep track of and respond to, which is far better than having customers bad-mouth your brand without you knowing about it or having the opportunity to fix mistakes.
- Remember that when a customer complains it gives you an opportunity to really connect with them, fix the error, and make a lasting impression.
Build your business through word of mouth
Building a relationship with customers does not happen overnight. It takes time to earn trust and loyalty, but by consistently meeting their needs over time, you will eventually turn every customer into an advocate for your business – and that’s the most powerful form of marketing there is! Rave reviews from customers will do more for your business over time than any television advert or marketing gimmick will ever do.
- Focus on every individual your business crosses paths with and ensure they’ve enjoyed the experience. Remember, losing market share generally happens one unhappy customer at a time.
- Never write off any customer as less important because they’re ‘small fry’. You never know who will be where and doing what in five years time.
- Don’t use service providers that don’t have the same values or customer service drive as your business – they will end up letting you and your customers down.