Your small business may offer great customer service, but how good is your customer experience? Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

 

Customer experience (or CX for short in the digital world) refers to the overall experience customers have with your business. Everything from your physical location to your salespeople’s attitudes to your website’s ease-of-use can enhance—or detract from—the customer experience.

 

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Disney, Apple stores, Amazon and Zappos are among the leaders in providing exceptional customer experiences. Do you think your customers are happy with your customer experience? Don’t be so sure. Only 18 percent of companies in The Temkin Group’s most recent Customer Experience Rating study earned a “good” or “excellent” rating, down from 37 percent in 2015. And if your customer experience doesn’t rate at least “good,” the competition is going to eat your lunch.

 

Doubt the importance of all this? Maybe this will convince you: Research from NewVoiceMedia reveals businesses lose over $62 billion every year due to poor customer service. To avoid that happening to your company, join the 72 percent of businesses (according to data from Forrester) that plan to make “improving customer experience” their top priority.

 

Here are 5 tips to up your customer experience:

 

1. Offer multiple ways to interact with your business. Not all customers want to interact with your business in the same way. For example, older customers generally like to pick up the phone and talk to someone. Millennials might prefer to use text to resolve an issue or ask questions about a potential purchase. To create a good customer experience for everyone, you must provide multiple ways to interact with your business. This can include in-person, by phone, by email, via online chat, by text, on social media or going the self-service route with a knowledge base or FAQ section on your website.

 

RELATED: 5 TIPS FOR IMPROVING B2B AND B2C CUSTOMER RETENTION

 

2. Provide consistency. You may have an amazing e-commerce website that offers standout search, intuitive navigation and a seamless checkout process—but what happens when a customer comes into your store to return an online purchase? If he or she is met by a rude, irritable employee, or a salesperson who doesn’t know how to handle the return process and takes 20 minutes to complete the transaction, the wonderful customer experience on the website will vanish in an instant. Make sure your systems and processes work smoothly, no matter how or where your customer is interacting with your business. It’s also key to make sure that employees in all sales and support channels are equally well-versed in handling them.

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3. Develop and train your people. You can’t deliver an outstanding customer experience without an outstanding team. Share your vision for the ideal customer experience with employees at all levels of the business. Make sure they understand it and are committed to delivering it. Provide ongoing training, feedback and development to ensure employees are playing their part in providing the best experience for your customers. Working with your employees isn’t a one-way street, however. Seek input from your team about how to improve the customer experience—after all, they’re the ones on the front lines interacting with customers. Empowering employees to make their own decisions (within guidelines you set) is vital, too. An employee who’s empowered to go above and beyond can transform a terrible customer experience into a happy one.

 

4. Understand your customers’ needs. Thanks to social media, digital loyalty programs and customer relationship management (CRM) software, it’s easier than ever to stay in touch with your customers and gain insights into their wants and needs. Use CRM tools and loyalty software to track your customers’ purchasing history and interactions with your business. Use social media to see what they’re interested in and how they interact with your competitors. Regularly conduct customer surveys, using online survey tools, email or social media, to see what customers think about your customer experience and how it can be improved. Using this information, you’ll be better able to personalize your customers’ interactions and even predict their behaviors so you can surprise and delight them with a tailored customer experience.

 

5. Focus on feelings. Creating a good customer experience is about more than facts and figures; it’s about how your business makes customers feel. Whether you sell jewelry to consumers or software to B2B buyers, think about the emotions you want your products and services to evoke in your customers, and work to ensure that every customer interaction creates those emotions. For instance, if you sell software to corporate clients, you might focus on how the software makes them and their employees more productive, so they aren’t as stressed, how it saves money compared to the competition and impresses their CFO; or how it boosts sales so they have the confidence to ask the boss for that promotion.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com.  A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

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