You have probably heard the term “customer experience”. In fact, it’s been floating around a lot of places lately. They are talking about it on the news, on LinkedIn, in books, and just about everywhere else. But, many CEOs, entrepreneurs, and business leaders are still wondering what it is exactly. They wonder how it’s any different from the customer service efforts they are already making.
Customer service vs. customer experience
Customer service covers the bare bones of what your customer requires from your business. It is something that most people don’t want to do and often comes across as forced. Many companies create a “customer service” department and leave it that. This department is responsible for addressing customer questions and complaints. Customer service is reactive.
Customer experience, on the other hand, is proactive. When you focus on the customer experience you are actively thinking about every potential situation that your customer could experience. You focus on seeing what they see, thinking what they think, and hearing what they hear. The customer experience includes every part of the time that your customer has interacting with your business. This includes the information they see or hear about your business.
The easiest example to show the difference between customer service and customer experience is Disney World. Smaller amusement parks might have great customer service when you need to reach out to someone at the park, but Disney goes over the top. Disney Co. has thought of each part of their “guests” journey from the advertising that plays on your emotions to the postcard you receive from Mickey and the gang in the mail weeks after your vacation. As someone that has experienced several negative situations (sick child, car trouble, passing out in line for a ride) I can assure you that Disney has the customer experience covered. They have thought of everything to assure that even when you experience a less than magical situation on their property you still walk away happy. This is what you want to create for your customer.
Improving the customer experience starts with leadership
Leadership plays a major role in the customer experience. Many CEOs are making a big mistake by not investing in their customers. C-level executives tend to focus so much on quarterly profits that they fail to see how investing in the customer experience will allow them to reap rewards in the future. Here are a few ideas on how to start shifting your focus towards the customer experience:
- Have team meetings to process each situation that the customer will face. This will include the marketing efforts they see, the products that they receive, the packaging that the product arrives in, the staff that they interact with, follow up, and every other step through the customer’s journey.
- Invest in your staff. Providing your staff with the training they need will improve the experience that your customer has with your employees. And, people enjoy working for companies that assist them in developing the skills they need to continue growing personally and professionally. You want happy employees interacting with your customers.
- Nurture the relationships with your customers. Things like taking a customer out for lunch might eat into your quarterly profits, but it’s an important step to showing your customer that they matter.
- Don’t forget about people once they become “customers”. There is nothing that a customer hates more than feeling like they were wined and dined when they were your prospect, then forgotten once they became a customer.
- Use a quality CRM. The right program will help you to not only keep your contacts together but know who should be contacted when. You can separate your lists into groups to make sure that the right people are receiving the right messages.
- Ask for feedback. Talk to your customers and employees to see how your business is currently doing. These are the people that matter most to your business so it’s important to find out what they think.
Change your company culture
As one of the leaders of the company, you control the company culture. If you want to improve your customer experience it’s important that you have a well-laid out plan.
SPEARity™ certified coaches can help you create a strategic culture in your company that focuses on the customer experience and growth. To get started contact SPEARity, a local Milwaukee leadership coaching firm that specializes in business coaching, executive coaching, and leadership development training.