17 Expert Tips for Enhancing the Customer Experience

In today’s competitive business landscape, the devil is in the details. With so many businesses competing for customers in both online and brick-and-mortar spaces, setting a business apart boils down to the customer experience strategy. If done incorrectly, businesses risk inadvertently driving away current and potential customers and ruining their reputation for good.

However, if done with care and regard for the needs of customers, businesses can rise above their competitors, even if they are offering similar products or services. To help leaders create a competitive advantage, 17 Newsweek Expert Forum members discuss how leaders can improve their company’s customer experience.

1. Examine Current Customer Service Systems

Customer service has become a frustrating process for consumers. Automation is cost-effective, but it often makes customers feel helpless since they’re frequently bounced around without resolution. Systems need to be effective and integrated—and the agents who finally pick up need the authority to go off script and resolve issues. Otherwise, you’re only paying lip service to customer engagement. – Suzanne Mattaboni, Suzanne Mattaboni Communications

2. Prioritize the Needs and Preferences of Customers

One way leaders can improve their company’s customer experience and create a competitive advantage is by implementing a customer-centric approach that prioritizes the customer’s needs and preferences at every touchpoint. This can include streamlining processes, offering personalized experiences and providing excellent customer support to build long-term loyalty and advocacy. – Joseph DeWoody, Valor

3. Lean in on Empathy

Invest in hiring and training for empathy. According to an Ipsos poll, 86 percent of customers say empathy is the biggest loyalty driver and nine out of 10 consumers want brands to show empathy through their behavior. Train teams to get curious, actively listen and embrace other perspectives, even if they don’t agree. Screen for empathy when hiring. Empathy is not just hiring nice people! – Maria Ross, Red Slice, LLC

4. Consider the Perspectives of Customers

Put yourself in a new customer’s shoes. Old customers might forgive errors on your end if they are already there and are used to your shortcomings, but new customers trying you out for the first time do not have a switching cost. They can and will easily walk away for even the slightest faults on your end. – Zain Jaffer, Zain Ventures

5. Respect Your Clients’ Time

As a customer, I have a simple rule: Don’t make it hard for me to give you my money. This means managing wait times, allowing multiple methods of payment and effectively eliminating anything that gets in the way of a completed transaction. As a leader, it is critical that all processes are evaluated from the client’s perspective. – Warren Hurt, F&M Trust

6. Be Adaptable

Agile leaders provide their companies with a competitive advantage. Customer priorities and preferences constantly shift, so sticking with the same approach for every customer is no longer feasible. Companies must listen to their customers and adapt to their unique needs. Truly understanding a customer will help an organization stay resilient and improve customer touchpoints. – Faisal Pandit, Panasonic Connect North America

7. Do Exit Surveys

Hindsight is 20/20, and there is no better way to improve future customer experiences than by studying your past. We have found that conducting exit surveys when client contracts come to an end can offer invaluable insight into what needs to improve and where our team is excelling when it comes to customer experience. – Priscila Martinez, The Brand Agency

8. Consider How You Would Like To Be Treated as a Customer

Leaders can require each person in the organization to ask themselves this question: Am I treating customers the same way that I want to be treated as a customer? At some point, we are all customers. We are also all human. When individuals within the organization approach customer experience by thinking about how they like to be treated as customers, the company’s customer experience can and will improve. – James Jones, Bump

9. Create a User-Friendly Experience

With our business, we always try to make ease of use our main focus and keep in mind that not everyone is computer or tech-savvy. This is especially true in e-commerce where there are choices for lots of bells and whistles that can be tempting to adopt. Making the customer experience easy and effortless has always been our greatest success model. – Tammy Sons, Tn Nursery

10. Personalize Offerings

Leaders can improve their company’s competitive advantage by personalizing each customer’s experience with creative solutions that transform satisfaction into delight. This transformation requires intimate knowledge of customers’ wants and needs based on insights extracted from behavioral data and feedback collected over time. With a clear understanding of their customers, leaders can create winning solutions. – Lillian Gregory, The 4D Unicorn

11. Implement a ‘Reverse Mentorship’ Program

By adopting a “reverse mentorship” program, leaders can enhance the customer experience of their organization. For example, leaders could collaborate with tech-savvy staff to better comprehend and integrate emerging technologies and digital customer care experiences into their customer service plans. This would not only enhance the client experience, but also foster collaboration across generations. – Dr. Kira Graves, Kira Graves Consulting

12. Invest in Employee Development

Take the time to thoroughly invest in your employees’ education on the challenges, pain points and how your company can solve problems for clients. Then, equip your employees with the tools and resources to exceed expectations. – Sylvia Crawford, Arize

13. Prioritize Healthy Team Capacity

Ensure healthy team capacity helps maintain the bandwidth to create beautiful customer experiences. Stretched teams are transactional with no opportunity to high-touch processes. – Britton Bloch, Navy Federal

14. Build Offerings to Meet Core Customer Desires

We have used personality profiling to identify core desire archetypes. These universal desires include things like belonging, prestige, fun, honor, equality and more. We try hard to build products and bundles that offer several ways to meet each core desire. This helps us attract a wider variety of people so that we can grow. – Monica Leonelle, The World Needs Your Passion

15. Make the Customer Journey Easy

There’s a little secret that companies are unaware of: Customers typically hate dealing with them. Talk to anyone about any company and ask how they are. Most will respond with complaints. They aren’t complaints about the product or service but about their journey through the company’s phone system or website. A company that makes that journey easy will set itself apart. – Baruch Labunski, Rank Secure

16. Ensure Customers Are Consistently Being Served

All too often, we hear from our customers that prior to us, the only time they could reach our competitors for customer service was when their invoice was due. We treat the entire customer service experience as a conspicuous competitive advantage, offering them multiple ways to reach out for rapid, real-person responses and dialogue to ensure we understand their questions and provide the best answers. – Adam Coughran, Safe Kids Inc.

17. Ask for Feedback

Always ask clients for feedback on how they think you did and what you can do to improve. What worked yesterday and today might not address their needs tomorrow, as the landscape and economy continually shift. Staying ahead of their future needs by asking for their input helps ensure your company stays relevant and is always prepared for the next pain point clients will have as the world evolves. – April White, Trust Relations

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