As technology has evolved, so has customer service. No longer is it enough to simply answer customer questions or assist them with your product or service. This evolution has brought us to the customer experience. Customer experience is the new customer service and it's more important than every if you want long term success in your business.
A good example of the customer experience journey is with Disney and their amusement parks. The company’s whole goal is to make sure their consumers enter, stay, and leave happy just like the slogan: “The Happiest Place on Earth.” Disney's customer experience has gone from taking pictures with Mickey and friends around the ark, to staying the night in the park and waking up to have breakfast with any Disney character you want.
Add in the technological advances and their customer experience starts well before your enter the park and never ends. Which makes interacting with their customers before arrival and after departure equally important, if not more so.
And, guess what? It's well past 2020.
Now before you go crazy and start thinking about your customers having breakfasts with your employees, each industry is different. Creating the ultimate customer experience doesn’t have to be overwhelming and with this guide we will be discussing each step in this journey.
Before the they are a Customer
Believe it or not, the ultimate customer experience starts well before your customers are, well, your customers.
Now that every single person on the planet has a mobile device that can search the internet with a push of the button, customers are looking at your company, product, and or service long before they contact you. They will probably research your social media, website, and reviews left by other customers.
Their first impression of your company will be information that you haven’t told them directly, and could be information you don't even know is out there.
The Start of the Customer Experience
The easiest thing you can control upfront is your website. You don’t have to have the fanciest website, but your website does need to include these items to jump start the customer experience journey.
Discuss What You Do and Who Do You Serve
This might sound like an obvious answer, but many business owners tend to forget to add what they do and who they serve to their homepage.
Customers don’t want to be searching around your website to figure out if you can help them or if you have the right items they are looking for.
In general, people in today’s society want information quickly. Once they have the right information, they can proceed to your pricing section.
Outline Your Prices
If you are a product-based business, detailing your exact prices is the most beneficial as customers will know right away.
If you are a service-based business, discuss your pricing generally as some services might need to be customized. In this regard, discussing how you price your services is more an appropriate avenue.
An example of what can be written on your website or what you can tell a potential customer is:
“I provide custom rates to accommodate the different unique tasks your project requires. I would be happy to review the scope of work and give you an official proposal.”
Make the Booking Process Easier
Similarly to finding who you are and what you do, making the booking and or purchasing process easy and fast is a must.
It is best to provide a variety of options for your customer such as live chatting, online booking, emails, and maybe even phone calls.
This showcases that you are interested in their comfort as a customer and are willing to accommodate what method they prefer.
Coordinate Your Customer Service
We already mentioned that the customer experience is just an upgraded term from customer service, but in this case, we still mean the traditional sense of customer service.
There will be people calling in or writing to ask for help in different areas. A way to make sure you are providing the best customer experience during the customer service stage is to coordinate what should be said and done among the team.
This enables the smooth and solid interaction between the team member and customer. If team members are providing different information it can be confusing for the different customers leading to those different customers posting the mixed information online for others to see. Overall, creating mass confusion.
An easy way to coordinate this information is creating a flowchart and or a customer service booklet with answers to common questions. Within this flowchart or booklet also provide questions that the service representatives can use to clarify any situation that might arise.
Customer Experience During the Transaction
The customer experience is at its highest point during the actual transaction of business.
The Middle of the Customer Experience
No matter what you do or what service you provide, this stage is still a mixture of technology and human interaction.
Prior to the appointment or meeting, send the required information ahead of time in order to prepare your customer for what lays ahead. Nobody likes surprises and when it comes to purchasing a product or service, customers like to know what to expect.
Prepare Your Employees
This might seem like an obvious point, but make sure to properly train your employees for the service they are providing. Even though employees might have worked at similar companies in the past, each company has a completely different set of protocols and culture. Making sure each employee understands your company will enable them to better represent you when in front of the customer.
In addition, give your employees a proper summary of the client. This will give them the flexibility to help the customer with any further detail.
Invest in the Proper Tools
When improving your customer experience, make sure to not forget investing in the proper tools. This can help you complete the work or it can help give your customers the fastest and simplest process. For example, investing in a software that allows you to create sales proposals or quotes on the spot or to send receipts quickly after payment.
After the Transaction
This particular job might be a one time thing or your business could have multiple interactions with the customer. Before and during are important steps, but the after is very important because it is the last impression you leave, which builds a good foundation for when the customer comes back or refers you to someone they know.
Concluding the Customer Experience
The following are ways to conclude this particular customer experience journey while also building a solid relationship for any further transactions.
Depending on your business model, you might accept payments at different stages. One of the more common ones is accepting payments after completion of the job.
Similar to giving customers a variety of options to book a call, it is best to give your customers a variety of ways to pay. In this way, your customers will be happy with the flexibility and you will be able to receive your funds faster.
Some ways to accept payments are through a mobile credit card reader or through online platforms like PayPal or Venmo.
Ask for a Review
Upon completion of the job, be sure to ask for a review. The request to the customer should come from the employee that worked with the customer personally and it should also be written on a personal note rather than a generic company email.
In order to make the process smoother for the customer, indicate where they can leave the review. You can even email them a link and when they do leave a review, send them a personal thank you note.
The Customer Experience Journey
Throughout the whole journey, the best thing to keep in mind is: is the process smooth and requires a limited number of steps on the customer’s end?
Here are some further questions you can ask yourself as you are creating the ultimate customer experience in your company.
Before the Transaction
- Does your business model focus on customer reviews?
- Does your website and do other descriptions of your business mention your experience in the field?
- Is your pricing outlined or how you price described on your website and other platforms?
- Can customers contact your business through a variety of means and is that information easily accessible?
- Are the most commonly asked questions addressed on your website?
- Does your business model include follow-ups with the customer through the purchasing journey such as confirmations, reminders, and progress of the work?
- Do you send information about the work to the customer in order to prepare them ahead of time?
During the Transaction
- Does your business model allow your customers to have options?
- Did you prepare your customers for all the work and the final invoice amount with your estimate or proposal?
- Do your employees have the necessary information and materials to support your customers with any further questions and concerns?
- Have you incorporated useful technology to make the process efficient for both your employee and the customer?
After the Transaction
- Do you offer multiple ways for a customer to pay and multiple ways for them to receive the invoice and receipt?
- Do you offer incentives to employees for initiating good reviews from customers?
- Do you send a note via the customer’s preferred method to remind them of leaving a review and to thank them for one?
- Does your business model include sending personal gifts or other tokens of gratitude to big transaction customers?
- Are you setting time aside to respond to positive and negative reviews?
- Do you send out surveys so your customers can give you extra insight to the customer experience journey?
- Do you also listen to your employees’ insights into what your customers want?
Things to Keep in Mind
Creating the ultimate customer experience can be a helpful tool for you to use when founding your business. It will help you think through any of the potential customer concerns and bottleneck points that might cause irritations to customers.
As technology and society changes over time, our general advice is to constantly evaluate this customer experience process either by incorporating more efficient and modern technology or updating employee training.
Here are some last comments about why creating the ultimate customer experience for your own company is essential:
- Customers rarely expect the business to go above and beyond. Having reminders and extra information sent to them can definitely leave a lasting impression.
- Maintaining communication even after the transaction allows your business to always be on top of their mind for any future transactions or referrals.
- Investing in modern technology and more efficient techniques will save your business time and money allowing you to serve your customers even more.
- When satisfied customers leave reviews, this helps grow your business as others will see them.