This week we feature an article by Jaime Bailey who writes about how important convenience has become to the customer experience and how it is a necessity for providing a competitive edge in today’s marketplace.
As has been widely documented, the balance of power in today’s marketplace has shifted away from the town square and to the customer. This shift is largely due to the digital transformation that has disrupted our entire society over the past quarter-century, and the mantra of maximizing the customer experience has grown directly out of that transformation.
No matter how big your company is today, or how well your brand is faring, it’s a fact that you always have room to improve your relationship with your customers. And the latest area widely touted to provide a competitive edge in the customer experience is convenience.
Easy: The New Loyalty
One effect of the digital transformation has been the erosion of the traditional definition of brand loyalty. After all, it’s a lot harder to retain your customers when their selection pool has gone from four similar products at the local department store to 400 products worldwide that they can see without leaving their couch. In fact, the results of a recent UK study could be summarized as “easy is the new loyalty”:
- 50 percent of respondents said that loyalty is a thing of the past.
- 74 percent said they will do repeat business with a company if their experience is easy.
- Customers who find their interactions are easy are 40 percent less likely to churn.
Similarly, as far back as 2011, RightNow’s 2011 Customer Experience Impact Report found that 55 percent of consumers said that easy access to support and information can make them fall in love with a brand.
In short, the bar for customer convenience has been set on high, even if your brand is not blatantly offering convenience (like a fast-food chain does, for instance). Any company that can offer a customer experience more convenient than its competitors is poised to prosper.
CX for Busy Lives
When considering why convenience has become a key differentiator, the answer is right in our faces: We all have busy lives; we’re all pulled in multiple directions all day long. Given an alternative, does anyone want less convenience or to spend more time on their to-do list?
This idea isn’t really new. Corner markets and convenience stores aren’t just competing with the big-box superstores, they flourish. Why? The reason is in their names: They’re right where their customers are, and they’re convenient. They don’t usually have lines, and they don’t have aisles and aisles of choices to sift through. They’ve established just what their shoppers want to be able to run in and grab, be it a hot snack, a cold drink, or gas for the car and ice cream for the kids.
Taking this one step further, let’s consider the downside of limitless choices. In a quick and convenient customer experience, the customer doesn’t want to wander around, get lost or distracted, or hit a dead-end on their way to achieving their goal for the transaction; in fact, getting in and out easily with exactly what they need is an integral part of the goal.
The industry disruptors like Amazon are the ones who latch onto this reality and work to not only be proactive and easy on their customers today but to look ahead and implement what will be quick and convenient tomorrow. For instance, the most effective chatbots are programmed to recognize when a customer is struggling and to effortlessly deliver that customer to a live customer service agent.
Changing your approach so that each part of the customer experience is created around your customers’ definition of what is convenient is what creates loyalty today. Have you gone through your own company’s customer journey recently? If you were a customer, would you feel your company is easy to do business with?
Become More Convenient
Here are some ideas for improving the convenience of your CX:
- As referenced above, clear a path to the purchase. Don’t over-recommend or require extra clicks and keep your buying process simple.
- Be where your customers are. Many companies are exploring selling opportunities through social media like Instagram, where they can post pictures and provide links to quick payment options like Paypal; other companies are opening up tools like WhatsApp for their customer support and live chat.
- Convenience for the customer means flexibility in your staff. Improve employees’ listening skills and empower them to follow through.
- Recognize that customer convenience simply can’t exist within siloed processes. Build interdisciplinary teams and make it easy for your customers to reach them.
- Today’s customer is deeply sensitive to any stumbling block around getting help when they need it. Ensure that your online FAQs are easy to find and current; employ an omnichannel solution to seamlessly connect any customer from any channel directly to a live agent with only one click.
- On a related note, launch a callback solution to give your customers control over their time instead of waiting in a call queue. Callback allows them to “save their place in line” and get a call when an agent is available or schedule a call at a time most convenient to them.
Jaime Bailey is the Vice President of Marketing at VHT. With more than 16 years of experience, she stewards a team focused on understanding the customer experience, applying new marketing techniques, and maximizing ROI. A devout proponent of the importance of a well-crafted marketing strategy, Jaime’s efforts have helped companies enrich customer relationships, drive revenue, and grow brand equity.
For more articles from Shep Hyken and his guest contributors go to customerserviceblog.com.
Read Shep’s latest Forbes article: How To Earn A Perfect Customer Satisfaction Score