We are in the age of the customer, there’s no doubt about it. Customers have more power over businesses at this point in history than at any other time. In fact, one customer today can share an experience with millions of people effortlessly and without spending a dime, thanks to the internet & social media. This implies that brands have their reputation at stake each time a customer shares their experience with the business online.
As a result of this, many businesses are gradually transitioning their focus from operational & cost efficiency to customer experience and loyalty. Many businesses have already leveraged successfully on this strategy to build solid, profitable brands, with an army of advocates that share stories of their experiences interacting with these brands. These stories create strong affinity and a positive impression of the brand in the minds of those who hear them.
The Customers 2020 Report by Walker reveals that by the year 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. I believe that is already happening. Customers today know & understand their worth, they seek out those brands that offer the best experience and value for money, and they share stories about their experience with friends and family and even strangers on the internet.
It is has become very important that brands begin to evaluate the experience of their customers right from the very first touch point. Understanding the current experience will shade light into those shadowy areas where improvements should be made. To help with that, here are 10 common mistakes that could be ruining your customers’ experience.
#1. Failing To Build A Customer Focused Culture
If you believe you can deliver amazing customer experiences without having a culture that promotes it within your organization, think again. Various research has found clear correlations between a great service culture, employee engagement, customer loyalty, and profit.
Consider that brands like Apple, Southwest Airlines, Four Seasons, Zappos, Amazon, & Disney all have one thing in common – they are known for having a customer focused culture, each unique in their own way of delighting customers. Surely they aren’t crazy, they have good reasons for that. An organizational culture that promotes customer centricity creates an environment where magical customer experiences can occur – the sort that gets talked about, and makes people come back for more.
#2. Neglecting Design
It’s sad when you visit a business website and it is poorly designed, or difficult to navigate, with links that lead nowhere. In today’s fast-paced world, such an experience is a huge turn-off and will give a poor impression of the brand on any customer or prospect.
Every touch point the customer interacts with, from the website to product packaging should be deliberately fine-tuned to give the best experience. Ask yourself –
Are the fonts readable? Are the colors easy on the eyes?
What about the picture quality?
Is the website optimized for mobile phones?
Are the contact numbers correct?
All these and more must be carefully considered. As a bonus Here is the link to the ‘World’s worst website’. If your website looks anything like that, take action immediately!
#3. Poor Utilization of Customer Data
Making the customer repeatedly give you the information you already have deteriorates the quality of their experience. A lot of businesses amass customer data and file them away in cabinets and shelves. They miss out on the opportunity to personalize their services and enhance the customer experience.
Personalizing the service or interaction makes the customer feel known and valued. This helps in building trust and enhances the quality of their experience. Use the customers’ names when you send them messages or prompts. Make use of their birth information and send them emails on their birthdays. Failing to utilize customer data is a terrible mistake that undermines any effort at delivering a great experience.
#4. Not Engaging The Customers
This customer experience mistake is a costly one because it stifles innovation, and growth. When you fail to engage your customers, you miss out valuable insights on their expectations, and any opportunities to improve. Engaging customers doesn’t mean sending them promo materials or ads, that’s considered a monologue.
Every brand should have dialogues (2-way communication) with it’s customers. It is important to find out from them, how well your product (or service) has met their expectation, as well as what you do to improve it. This can be done via – Surveys, polls, interviews or events aimed at interacting with the customers.
#5. Spamming The Customers
While it is important to engage your customers, it doesn’t in anyway mean you should spam them with promotional emails, or surveys twice a day (or week). Your emails or text should come periodically, and not too frequently. The messages should also not be too promotional, it should have valuable content that might be of benefit to the reader.
#6. Failing to Act on Customer Feedback
This is a painful customer experience mistake a lot of businesses make. Why go through the trouble of collecting customer feedback, sharing the findings in a meeting and not doing anything about it?
Simply collecting customer feedback is not enough, the real work starts after the feedback data has been analyzed. Feedback provides insights into what customers are really thinking, their expectations and how well the business is fulfilling them. This then empowers the business to make better decisions, backed with data, and most times such decisions yield positive results.
When a brand fails to act on customer feedback, they lose out completely and risk making decisions based on the assumptions & gut feelings of leadership.
#7. Failing To Meet Customers On Their Preferred Channel
Avoid the mistake of restricting the customers to just one channel. The telephone and email support channels have become an expectation, and social media has recently become a widely accepted customer service channel. With Instant messaging services like Whatsapp joining in, it has become necessary that your brand should have a social media presence too!
When a business offers support through multiple channels, it makes the customers’ efforts seamless and more personalized. Social media also provides the opportunity to learn more about the customer, making more personalization possible. For businesses where the website is a major customer touch-point like eCommerce stores, then Live chat is a must-have channel you should explore.
If your business does not have a social media presence yet, now is the time to do so, it free!
#8. Neglecting Review Sites
Customers today are likely to research a product online before they try it out. When a brand neglects review sites, it misses out on opportunities to manage its online reputation.
Review sites are also a source of customer feedback, which can be used to improve on product and service offerings. Some review sites like ServiceGuru allows customers to review their experience not just with the brand, but also the employees, based on the service they provide. This helps businesses identify which employees are contributing positively to the customer experience, and those who might need to be retrained.
#9. Not Empowering Front Line Staff
No matter how great your front-line team is, if you fail to empower them to resolve customer issues on the spot, it results in longer processing time, impatient customers and frustrated employees who have to manage these customer. Cumbersome approval processes take time and diminish the customers’ experience. If you don’t trust employees to make the right decision in the best interest of the business & customer, maybe you shouldn’t have hired them in the first place.
Empowering your front-line employees is a win-win decision, that yields improved customer satisfaction. (Read more: Steps to Empowering Your Front Line Team)
#10. Making It Difficult For Customers To Reach You
If a customer has a need to get in touch with your brand, how easy is it for them to reach you? It is a frustrating experience when you have to click so many links or become a researcher just to locate the contact details of a business, at a time you have an urgent need which they might solve.
Are your contact details clearly displayed on the website, product packaging, and any promotional materials? According to an independent survey by customer service expert Ian Golding – Ease of doing business was one of the 5 most important things to customers.
The easier it is for the customers to reach a business in moments of need, the more likely they are to trust the brand & stay interested in the products. Is It Easy For Customers To Patronize You?
Avoiding these mistakes is great way to start improving the experience customers have when they interact with your brand. When a brand starts to consistently offer customers an experience, just a little above what competitors offer, they are bound to control a greater percentage of market in a short time.