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Written by Lisa Shepherd
on April 17, 2014

A great customer experience is difficult to copy, adding value that can sustain higher prices and lay the foundation for sustainable competitive advantage.

The competitive challenge for business owners today has never been greater. Competitors match price, technology and product/service offers instantly. When customers buy your product/service on price, not value, the relationship becomes about price, they want to pay less and will easily switch to a lower priced competitor. So what is the differentiator? A great customer experience. A great customer experience is almost impossible to copy, adds value that can sustain higher prices and can be the foundation for sustainable competitive advantage.

Customer Experience

Do you know if you deliver a great customer experience?
You have a customer attrition rate. You have customers who buy your products/services and are never heard from again. Do you know why? Do you systematically ask your customers for their feedback? Their needs? Do you know if they had a great customer experience?

How to deliver a great customer experience
What you don’t know can hurt you. One of my customers was losing existing and potential business to their competitor at an astonishing rate. Provoked by this loss to solicit customer feedback, current customers they spoke with said they were pleased with the customer service, quality of service performed and pricing, but they had no feedback from previous customers. When previous customers were asked for feedback, it became clear the competitor was providing an identical service offer and price, but at times more convenient for the customer. Had my customer asked their customers what would have improved their customer experience, they would have been better positioned to respond to the competitor’s challenge.

Don’t wait for a formal customer feedback survey to tell you what your customers want. Systemize customer feedback at every customer touchpoint. Develop and implement a customer follow-up strategy across all departments and make it a key part of your business strategy. And then communicate back to your customers that you have listened to them.

10 Steps to a Great Customer Experience

  1. Make contact with your customers on a regular basis. Systemize customer follow up to ensure their needs are being met and opportunities to enhance the relationship are acted upon immediately.
  2. Enhance the relationship. Provide them with useful information; useful information about their business and about your business and solicit feedback on how you can help simplify your interactions to meet their needs.
  3. Empower them with self-service. If their business needs require access to reporting, 24/7 support, round the clock service, or industry-related information that doesn’t require personal customized attention, and enables them to answer their questions, make it available online, through a customer support line, and communicate its availability.
  4. Empower frontline staff. Devise a great customer experience strategy that is supported by front line staff. Educate, train and empower front line staff to support the strategy and deliver an experience that exceeds customer expectations. Ensure frontline employees have all the information, resources, support and records they need to personalize the conversation and accommodate customers’ needs.
  5. Actively listen to your customers. Delivering a consistently excellent customer experience is impossible if you don’t have a systematic way to listen to whether you are achieving that goal. You must understand customers’ opinions on everything from the quality of your products and the timeliness of your service to suggestions as to how you can effectively help them. Ask them what they want and they will tell you.
  6. 'Walk the walk' across the company. In many organizations, multiple teams interact with customers, yet they don’t work or communicate with one another. When developing your customer experience strategy take into account cross-departmental interactions and objectives. Develop expectation guidelines and feedback mechanisms for relevant customer experience across the departments. Create communications channels that regularly share experiences from the customers’ perspective. Evaluate the experiences and modify your strategy.
  7. Engage proactively with customers. Take the time to initiate customer touchpoints visa vis information, feedback, improvement opportunities and customer news and find ways to address and pre-empt factors that erode customer satisfaction.
  8. Don’t overlook Social Media for customer feedback. Identify, engage and respond on social channels preferred by your customers. Social channels can be phone, e-mail, ticket support, 24/7 support, Facebook Company Page, Company Blogs, Twitter, You Tube, LinkedIn Company page, LinkedIn groups, YouTube, Company Branded Forums, Q & As or communities.
  9. Measure, improve and measure again. Strive for a culture that drives customer experience continual improvement. Develop KPI metrics for customer experience, customer expectations and customer satisfaction. Measure up-sell, cross-sell and conversion rates and tie them back to the KPIs.
  10. Ask again. Continually ask your customers what they desire, what they need. What you don’t know can hurt you.

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