This week we feature an article by Gary Anderson who explains why the customer experience creates customer loyalty and generates repeat business. The goal of this article is to touch on three pillars of business –– product, price, and experience –– and break down which of these three is the most important to driving success. […]
This week we feature an article by Gary Anderson who explains why the customer experience creates customer loyalty and generates repeat business.
The goal of this article is to touch on three pillars of business –– product, price, and experience –– and break down which of these three is the most important to driving success. The article will argue that while offering a superior product at a competitive price is a must, it is this third pillar, experience, which can build a brand’s reputation, create customer loyalty and generate crucial repeat business.
The customer experience you provide will set you apart from the competition. There are many ways a business can improve their customer experience, and we’ll highlight a few of these ideas and offer specific examples which can be applied to your business. These ideas include tracking customer information, establishing loyalty programs, listening to customer concerns, and focusing on building your online reputation.
By applying a few of these concepts to your business, you can dramatically improve your customer experience. This can have a direct impact on revenue and sustainable growth.
In today’s customer-driven economy, consumers are becoming more and more demanding about the products and services they choose, and it’s not surprising. With the rise of eCommerce, customers have more choices than ever before. Today, customers are armed with smartphones and tablets that give them instant access to information about almost anything — including mobile shopping options.
Attracting new customers can be expensive. Advertising and marketing your brand is costly, and it’s never certain whether these efforts will attract enough new customers to justify the cost of expensive advertising. Never underestimate the value of a customer base that is loyal to your brand, though. Did you know that repeat business from loyal customers can create 10x the profit that is derived from a new customer who finds your brand through advertising?
How can your business attract customers — and make them stick? Is it through a superior product, price or experience? Let’s take a look at all three pillars and see which one holds the most promise for attracting new customers:
Having a quality product is a must in any market, but product competition is usually stiff since there are always new, competitive products being introduced into your market. Comparing the nuances of your product’s benefits versus those of your competitors can be extremely challenging in today’s competitive environment, and focusing on these comparisons is not guaranteed to lead to a profit for your brand. To be sure, there’s no doubt that customers want a quality product — but, in the end, customer service and experience are what determines whether customers maintain a positive view of your brand.
As with products, the prices within your market are also subject to change at a moment’s notice. Unfortunately, there is usually very little you can do to prevent competitors from introducing new products that boast similar features at a slightly lower cost. You can offset this lower cost by providing an excellent customer service experience, though. Surveys of customers frequently show that customers are usually willing to pay more for a product if the brand provides superior service.
First and foremost, providing customers with respect is the foundation to creating a superior customer experience. One of the best ways to show your customers that you truly respect them is by valuing their time. Time is extremely precious for most of us, so reducing the amount of time your customers wait for a product or a service is extremely valuable to many — if not most — of your customers. Let’s look at a few ways to improve your customer experience:
Track Customer Information One of the most effective ways to reduce customer wait time is by retaining your customers’ contact information and keeping track of their buying habits. By keeping track of contact information, you will prevent your customers from the time-consuming and tedious task of providing this information for every transaction. Similarly, keeping track of customers’ buying habits will allow you to steer customers to their preferred products, and prevent customers from searching endlessly to find what they need.
Establish Loyalty Programs By establishing a customer loyalty program, you can achieve both of these goals while showing respect for your returning customers through additional incentives that they can only get from your brand. The loyalty program allows you to keep tabs on your individual customers’ preferences while you provide a brand experience that is uniquely tailored just for them. You can further ensure an individualized customer experience is respectful of their time by employing the right type of technology for this experience. Technology that creates a prompt, pleasant buying experience for your customers will further illustrate your company’s respect for their time and overall regard for their experience with your brand.
Listen The respect you show for your customers doesn’t end after the sale, though. In fact, the service you provide to your customers following a sale is crucial to maintaining customer loyalty in the future. After a sale, listen thoughtfully to your customers about any problems they may be having with your product or service, and be sure to immediately resolve the problems or issues they identify. Timing is key because a delay in resolving these problems indicates that you don’t respect your customers’ time once you’ve made your sale.
Follow Up After the issue has been resolved, keep in close touch with your customers to make sure the issue has been effectively resolved to the customers’ satisfaction. When necessary, coupons and discounts applied to current or future purchases can go a long way toward effectively compensating your customers for any inconveniences they suffered due to poor products or services.
Request Feedback One of the most effective measures of customer satisfaction is to gather customer feedback through short, convenient surveys. Surveys give customers an opportunity to share feedback about their experience with your brand so that your brand can improve and make changes as necessary. Surveys also demonstrate to your customers that you value their insights and experience interacting with your brand.
Build Your Reputation Just as surveys allow you to gather feedback about your customers’ experiences with your brand, social media sites like Yelp, Google Reviews, etc. allow customers to share with others online about their experiences with your brand. When you invest substantial time and energy into giving your customers the best possible experience with your brand, your customers will respond with positive stories online about their experiences with your company, and your online reputation improves substantially. Otherwise, your online reputation will suffer, and you are likely to lose the business of potential future customers — not just the business of the customers who are complaining online. Bad reviews also give you the chance to reach out to dissatisfied customers who need your assistance to improve their experience.
By doing this you can demonstrate to dissatisfied customers that you care about fixing any problems they have encountered, and you can demonstrate to future customers that your brand promptly corrects any problems for its customers once they have been brought to your attention.
The Takeaway: The Customer Experience Matters Most
If there’s anything you should take away from this information, it’s that product and price are very important to your brand, but experience is the most important factor in determining whether a customer buys from you one time or remains a loyal customer over time — possibly even a lifetime. Think of the enormous profit your brand would gain from retaining loyal, lifelong customers. It sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
If you’ve spent most of your time focusing on product or price, but you haven’t spent very much time on your customers’ experience with your brand, don’t fret — there’s still time to improve your brand’s customer experience. These days, there are numerous B2B customer service providers, queue management systems and digital customer service solutions that help you improve your experience – and by securing lifelong, loyal customers, the investment pays for itself in no time.
So, instead of focusing on gimmicky ads, expensive marketing schemes, or drastic quality cuts to reduce price, focus on improving your customers’ experiences with your brand. After all, investing in the tools and team members who will help your customer service reach its greatest potential is not just a good strategy –– it’s good business!
Gary Anderson is a freelance writer from Los Angeles, California. With over 10 years of experience writing for many different industries, he is an accomplished and published writer and editor.
For more articles from Shep Hyken and his guest contributors go to customerserviceblog.com.
Read Shep’s latest Forbes Articles: Businesses Lose $75 Billion Due To Poor Customer Service
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