6 ways to improve the customer’s experience in your business
“First impressions get people through the door, what happens next is what keeps them coming back.” – Bernadette Jiwa
Businesses with happy customers flourish and grow, thanks to repeat business and positive word-of-mouth. This makes customer service an incredibly important part of your overall marketing strategy.
Consider the following statistics*:
- A customer is four times more likely to defect to a competitor if the problem is service-related rather than price- or product-related – Bain & Company.
- The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 – 70%. The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20% – Marketing Metrics.
- It costs six to seven times more to acquire a new customer than retain an existing one – Bain & Company.
The numbers speak for themselves: it’s more cost-effective to generate repeat business than to continually spend big on marketing campaigns to keep new clients coming. Improving your customer experience will generate revenue and save costs.
Most companies probably think they provide good customer service. The phone gets answered, problems get resolved, and projects get completed on time. You’re meeting your clients’ expectations.
However, according to marketing guru Bernadette Jiwa, in order to impact on your bottom line, generate return business and positive brand reinforcement, your service must consistently exceed the clients’ expectations.
So how do we move from meeting customer expectation to exceeding it?
1. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes
Have you ever thought about what it’s like to be one of your customers? Put yourself in their shoes for a moment and think about their experiences of doing business with you – from initial contact right through to job completion. Look for the weak spots: gaps in the service, turnaround times, drop-offs in communication, cumbersome processes, information that’s missing from your website, the length of time it takes to pick up the phone.
2. Find the magic
Bernadette Jiwa talks about finding opportunities to create ‘magic’, essentially by delivering over and above the clients’ baseline expectations in any situation – no matter how trivial. You have the ability to surprise your customers with added swiftness, courtesy, competence, commitment, or understanding. Apply this to every interaction you have with them.
3. Live up to your own hype
Through your marketing and branding, you’ve made certain assertions about your product or service. Clients come to you expecting you to fulfil those claims. Did you promise speedy service, reliability, clever design skills, or superior workmanship? Miss the mark and you’ve failed the customer experience test. That these expectations are met is a ‘given’ – this is the minimum you must deliver to meet their expectations. Failing to do so will damage your brand and your reputation.
4. Under-promise and over-deliver
You’ve heard this one a million times, and that’s because it’s still one of the best ways to improve the customer experience. But do it consistently: phone back sooner than you said, provide three design options instead of two, add in a free 3D rendering, get the job completed short of deadline. Find a way to over-deliver in every aspect of your client interactions.
5. Anticipate the client’s needs
You know more about your business than your clients do, so be quick to offer guidance and advice, and be proactive in leading your client through the project, anticipating their needs before they do. For example, advise them of any council or other red tape matters that may arise. Be the expert, and look after them.
Bernadette Jiwa says that in every service delivery situation, there are three elements at play: expectation, logistics, and emotion. And this resonates particularly within the housing industry, where high expectations can all too easily be impeded by logistics. Which leads to emotion. When things go wrong, emotions run high. The key to managing the situation is empathy: look at the situation from the client’s point of view, and ask yourself ‘How would I be feeling?’ This will enable you to address their concerns from their emotional point of view, rather than your commercial one.
Of course one of the benefits of improving the overall customer experience is that when things do go wrong, your customers have more faith in your ability to put things right and are, on the whole, more forgiving. But there are so many benefits associated with improving your customer service – the positive effects of repeat business bolster not just the bank balance, but also your company’s brand identity and reputation within the marketplace.