5 Pocket-Friendly Ways On How To Improve Customer Experience
Small businesses don’t need to break the bank to improve customer experience.
Visiting Macy’s in New York during the Christmas season is magical. The joy and warmth of Christmas flow in abundance.
Decorations and music are a-plenty and the sales on gift-worthy items do help. Customers feel special – they want to visit again, be it Christmas or not.
In summary, customer experience is the perception your customers create after they interact with your business.
It can be positive or negative and the affluence of either leads to some form of word of mouth.
A small enterprise does not need to go full throttle, such as Macy’s, to improve customer experience. They can start small and work their way up slowly.
5 Pocket-Friendly And Effective Ways To Improve Customer Experience
With the simple steps listed below, any business can improve customer experience while retaining the weight of their wallet.
1. Understand Who Your Customers Are And Target Them Efficiently
Businesses should first understand their buyers to improve customer experience.
Know their age, how often they visit, what they buy, what their interests are, what they like and dislike about your business.
All these questions can be answered by something as simple as an offline survey, or by analyzing your demographic using the Facebook Business Manager.
Both methods are effective and can give meaningful results.
This data can then be used to make crucial decisions about your customers. Businesses can put their core market’s favorite items on sale, for example, or remove a certain service that seems obsolete.
These decisions can lead to smarter investments and greater profits, all the while influencing your customers to interact more regularly with your products and services.
2. Customer Service Is The Fulcrum Of The Customer Experience Train
The importance of customer experience cannot be emphasized enough. It is impossible for customers to interact with your products and services in a vacuum.
They will have to interact with your employees and this is especially true for offline businesses.
Customer service happens before, during and after a sale- and Starbucks is phenomenal at this. The coffee giant’s staff knows the a to z of every product.
They also personalize every sale – small actions such as calling people by their names and conversing during the transaction – these strategies by Starbucks help improve customer experience.
If an order is incorrect, or there’s something wrong with it, the staff fixes it.
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For small businesses, implementing a culture that prioritizes customer service is much easier and more pocket-friendly than for a Starbucks. The earlier you start, the stronger the culture.
Furthermore, having an online social media customer service presence can be phenomenal in helping improve customer service.
It not only becomes convenient for your customers with complaints, but it also lets your stakeholders interact with your business regularly.
3. Dig Back To The Grassroots
In B2C businesses, the management and executives don’t interact with customers on a daily basis, the staff and employees do.
These regular interactions and observations can lead to insights that even the customers might know or want to acknowledge.
It is always beneficial to gather ideas and data from your employees on the front line. This can be done in the following ways:
- Holding company-wide townhalls, if your numbers allow.
- Asking middle management to talk to their team about customers and possible customer feedback.
- Creating a culture in which employees are free to discuss something they feel is important with management.
All these methods are easily achievable and inexpensive. However, your employees’ contributions are absolutely free.
So, lend an ear to their insights, complaints, and ideas – they may prove invaluable in helping create assets that improve customer experience.
4. Employ Social Media & User Generated Content
Social media comes with the perk of providing publicity to just about everything.
It essentially lengthens your arms and lets you interact with stakeholders who can be on the other side of the globe, with ease.
It is efficient and can be used as far as your creativity allows.
- Feel like showing off the excellent review your customer shared on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.
- Create a makeshift video to show your customers how to assemble or use your product and upload it on YouTube.
Social media platforms are omnipresent and almost all internet using individuals know how to navigate through them.
Moreover, with the help of user-generated content, you can let your audience improve customer experience for themselves.
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85% of Instagram users believe that user-generated content is better than brand stories. Businesses can use this to their advantage by asking their customers to put up a post with a hashtag if they liked their products.
You can also take the help of a local influencer who is interested in your product to spread some positive word-of-mouth.
These steps are almost all free and can help improve customer experience by creating a friendly image of your brand and its products or services to the masses.
5. Be Proactive And Practice Continuous Innovation
Stagnancy during good times can quickly become the Achilles’ heel of any business.
You may have created a positive environment for your customers, but where do you go from here?
The answer is in continuous innovation, which is essentially showing proactivity by making minute changes to your products and services repeatedly.
This can translate to trying out different product packaging, sampling an additional ingredient to your product, or even marginally changing how your employees interact with your customers.
By making continuous changes a business creates an environment for the customer that shows that it cares for their evolving needs and also helps in increasing sales.
7 Tips On How To Express Gratitude To Your Customers
In this article, we look at seven ways to express gratitude to one of the most important stakeholders for any company.
If done correctly, coupons can be a fantastic way of expressing gratitude and improving customer experience.
A good approach is to do research about your core customer base and offer coupons based on their purchasing habits and patterns.
Coupons are also very useful because they can be used to express gratitude and to de-stock new or undersold products and services.
Furthermore, they can also be used to introduce consumers to new products they might like- in the form of buy X and get Y free, or by providing items, services, and discounts of value upon purchase of a certain amount.
However, it is also important to be a tad cautious when using coupons. Most marketers often come across the cautionary tale of the retail giant, Target.
Out of goodwill, the company chose to send a teenage girl pregnancy-related coupons to express gratitude for shopping at one of its outlets. This wasn’t taken positively by its receptors.
There is a line to the kind of research that goes into mining data for coupons and companies should learn not to cross the pathos of the situation, as Target did.
2. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
CSR helps build a positive perception of the company for all the stakeholders involved, all the while helping improve society.
In terms of expressing gratitude, strategic CSR can help a brand make a social impact and also show that it cares about the values of its customers.
For example, 90% of millennials prefer clothing from brands with positive environmental and social footprints.
So if you’re a brand targeting the above generation, it makes complete sense to push towards initiatives that involve benefitting the environment.
Be it providing resources and money to charity, running an employee initiative to clean beaches, or completely altering manufacturing and organizational processes to better suit the environment.
Any and every effort towards adjusting your values to your customers is a great way to express gratitude.
3. Loyalty Cards
If your business has scaled to the point of having a sizable core customer base, a loyalty program is both a phenomenal way to express gratitude and to build customer loyalty.
Loyalty cards and programs help make your regular customers feel special and also help your company get to know them better.
By enrolling in one, customers provide information such as their birthday details and buying patterns.
This kind of information can be used by your team to create a positive brand-to-consumer interaction, such as sending out birthday gifts or maybe giving them a special discount on important personal occasions.
4. Listen & React
Your customers’ needs will evolve over time and most of them will not shy away from expressing them.
Sometimes all it takes is a good ear and a genuine desire to change for the betterment of your customer to express gratitude.
For example, if the majority of your customers feel like your online billing portal is clunky, fix it. If they feel like your restaurant needs to incorporate healthier options, start researching and looking for alternatives.
What’s equally important is letting your customers know that you’ve made these changes.
Showing off a bit in this case actually yields a positive perception of your brand in your customers’ minds.
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Surprise marketing can generate tremendous goodwill and gratitude. For example, Kleenex received over 650,000 impressions and positive reception for surprising sick consumers with a ‘Feel Good’ kit.
Surprise marketing can also happen on a smaller scale, in the form of discounts and offers.
Without letting customers know that there’s a sale on a particular item or service, a business can add additional delight by offering something extra during or after the sale.
A good rule of thumb is to surprise-discount one item and service at a very small rate. Such a discount wouldn’t have otherwise mattered if marketed in the open.
But, when done on the counter, or during the time of the final sale, the psychological effect of the surprise increases the value of the discount.
It is a fantastic way to express gratitude.
6. Include Your Customers When Celebrating Milestones
This is the birthday party equivalent of the corporate world. Inviting your customers can help express gratitude by highlighting their contribution to your organization’s success.
Luncheons or in-store milestone sales are a great gesture of gratefulness. At the same time, these events also show how your organization has grown alongside its regular customers.
These can also act as a way for your company to share its values with its customers and vice versa.
Furthermore, celebrating milestone events is a great way to display success. Consumers generally tend to follow and support successful brands.
That is why the most followed football club in the world, Real Madrid, is also the most successful one.
Milestone events are a great way for your company to get to know arguably your most important stakeholders a little better.
7. Send Thank You Notes
Sometimes, saying thank you is all it takes to express gratitude.
Thanking your customers for helping you grow, for being a part of your journey, or for just being there bears just as much emotional impact as any of the above points.
And, if you’re an overachiever, it always helps to send personalized notes to your most loyal customers. It lets them know that they’re a part of the family.
10 Tips To Handle Dissatisfied Customers
Dissatisfied Customers may seem like unpleasant challenges, but can actually be an opportunity to learn and understand your buyers better.
You haven’t experienced entrepreneurship without having faced a dissatisfied customer or two. Unhappy customers are an unavoidable gift most businesses receive while scaling.
The unhappiness can come from an ingenuous fault in a product or service. However, at other times, the vision of a growing business can start differing from its customers’ expectations.
There are certain standard practices and decorum that need to be maintained to make the ordeal of handling unhappy customers more amicable.
The pointers below are a good place to start.
1. Listen To Dissatisfied Customers, But Only Within Reason
A popular business book adage from Duncan Howe reads, ‘Rule number 1: The customer is always right. Rule number 2: If the customer is wrong, refer to rule number 1’.
Putting the customer on a pedestal does help in a lot of cases. A malfunctioning product, a late delivery, or simply a bad attitude from an employee can lead to an unpleasant encounter with a customer.
In these cases, simply hearing the customer out and alleviating their concerns can help quickly resolve the problem.
However, a business isn’t responsible for an unreasonable customer’s discontentment.
If there’s a case where it’s not your fault and it could be a problem from the customer’s end, politely explain to them the situation and propose a possible solution.
2. Act Promptly
7 out of 10 American consumers choose companies with good customer service over those without.
Dissatisfied customers can be an opportunity for you to show off how exceptional your customer service is. Quickly replacing a product, or reimbursing the customer can flip the dissatisfaction on its head and lead to a happy customer.
Common knowledge dictates that happy customers are repeat customers! However, on the converse, the longer you make a customer wait, the more their trust in the company fades.
In a world where everything is digital and fast, taking it slow doesn’t help in the customer satisfaction department.
3. Share Updates If The Problem Is Taking Time To Solve
Some solutions don’t come promptly. That’s part and parcel of dealing with dissatisfied customers. Maybe a product was imported or is out of stock temporarily.
Maybe, there’s a technical or logistical glitch that’ll take some time to fix. Hiccups arise a lot of the time, but they do not equate you to ghost the customer until the solution arrives.
Be proactive in informing the customer with updates on their solution and let them know that you’re working on it.
Half the return to customer satisfaction is knowing that the company cares about their needs.
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4. Make It Personal
Yes, addressing your customer by name is important. It makes the conversation seem less corporate and more friendly. By that rule, also, dissatisfied customers should not be assigned to multiple representatives.
There’s merit in astute time and resource allocation, but dealing with a frustrated customer is not akin to working on an assembly line.
Changing an unhappy person’s point of contact, especially on a long-term fix, can lead to further dissatisfaction.
Long story short, if your unhappy customer first interacted with Ryan then make sure that Ryan is easily available and gives them all the updates about their complaint.
5. Fix The Core Issue (And Let Them Know)
Customers like validation and giving them that validation can help your business massively. If the dissatisfied customer just pointed out a prominent flaw in your product: fix it.
Better yet, fix it and openly acknowledge your customer’s insight.
Not only are you avoiding further product or service dissatisfaction you’re also letting the customer know that they are valued and their voice is heard.
6. Breed A Culture Of Customer Prioritization From The Bottom Down
“I’d like to talk to the manager”– a dialogue commonly associated with dissatisfied customers who haven’t received a solution.
Sure, there is merit in involving the higher-ups for bigger, more escalated problems.
However, repeat managerial (or even higher) addresses from dissatisfied customers means that your executives have not been taught to deal with problems efficiently.
It saves long-term resources, time, and money if you provide your executives with the autonomy and training to make decisions that can help solve customer problems efficiently and quickly.
7. Follow Up Post Resolution
Most businesses know of the post-sales follow-up, but a post problem resolution follow-up is also vital to ensuring that customers are happy and satisfied.
A prompt, amicable solution may give dissatisfied customers peace of mind for the moment, but it does not ensure a foothold in the future.
Most customers may not want to relive a nagging experience that needed problem-solving from the company.
To avoid that from happening, it is never a bad idea to call the customer after the problem resolution and to remind them that they’re valued and that problems are scarce if anything.
8. Find Opportunities To Expand
Failure is just a red carpet walk to success. There’s always an opportunity in hearing out dissatisfied customers.
Ask yourself this: If a customer’s needs are not being met because you don’t have a product or service in your catalog, do you have the resources to make that happen?
Is a large enough group of customers dissatisfied with the same issues or are asking for the creation of a new or derivative product or service?
If it is financially feasible and already within the reach of your available resources, why not turn this dissatisfaction into a new business opportunity?
9. Sever Ties With The Customer
Drastic, yes. But this has been done in the past. The good thing is, in most cases, your customer probably does not pose a threat to a superpower nation.
However, if a customer is dissatisfied over a prolonged period of time, you should ask yourself the following questions:
- Is this customer’s expectations of my products aligned with what we actually purvey to the market?
- Does this customer have unreasonable expectations for my service/products?
- Is this customer dissatisfied repeatedly?
- Is the dissatisfaction primarily coming from one customer and not other sources?
If the answer to all these questions is a yes, it’s time to hit the proverbial chopping block.
Always remember, your company’s market perception and internal happiness can change for the better when a problem customer isn’t around.
10. Sever Ties With Your Product Or Service
The toughest one of them all. Are your dissatisfied customers growing by the day?
Have you objectively looked at all their concerns and there isn’t a fix to your product or service? In these cases going back to the drawing board is the best option.
Product recalls and discontinuations are two very tough decisions that a business has to make.
An objective look will tell you that your customers are more important to a brand you can start again on creating a market for your product.
Customer experience decides how and what your customers say about your brand. It is a generator of word of mouth- both positive and negative. As a result, every business should invest their time and resources into optimizing it.
The above strategies can act as a great starting point to build a road map of a cohesive customer experience.