26 Tips for Creating an Exceptional Customer Experience
As customers gain access to more options and formulate loftier expectations, delivering an exceptional customer experience is becoming increasingly pivotal.
In previous eras, businesses evaluated their customer experience efforts based on the extent to which they minimized complaints and attrition. In today’s era, that of the empowered customer, businesses cannot constrain themselves to such a retroactive approach. If they expect their brand to resonate with customers and stand tall above the competition, organizations must proactively work to exceed customer expectations.
The goal is not to be satisfactory; it is to be exemplary. To get started, incorporate the following 26 tips.
Understand your current culture
If you want to improve your engagement levels, first you need to develop a measure of where you currently stand. Engage in staff surveys and do focus groups. You might not like the answer, but if you want to improve, you need a benchmark.
Don’t focus on the money
If you don’t pay enough It can demotivate staff, but paying than necessary does not necessarily equal increased performance levels. If you are looking for a tool for incentivising performance, you need to look elsewhere.
Borrow ideas from customer managers
There are hundreds of other managers across the country with exactly the same challenges as you, why reinvent the wheel? It is a commonly known fact that incentives quickly lose their value if repeated, so why not pool your ideas with your peers to share the workload. Send a message to your contacts, download whitepapers and go to conferences.
Understand your staff
No two people are the same, and every individual will be motivated by different things. Staff are often from different demographics, age ranges and a mix of casual and permanent staff. In order to truly motivate someone, it is critical to know what they personally value and the best way to do that is to ask them.
Provide a career path
The customer experience teams with the most engaged staff are often those that act as a springboard for the rest of the department or council. When employers provide quality career development, it delivers a win-win for both employers and employees. Not only will it mean that your staff are more engaged, but you will often be held in higher regard by the rest of the agency.
Get your recruitment right
Many customer centres have this the wrong way round – taking shortcuts in the recruitment process and spending the majority of their time fighting the resulting fires. If you want to lessen your workload, hire the right people for the organisational culture you are looking to build and the rest will (largely) take care of itself.
Create a common purpose
Take steps to fulfill employees’ natural desire to contribute to a greater cause. This means not only do you need to communicate the goals and purpose of the organisation as a whole, but also the roles of each of your staff in achieving these goals.
Apply for an award
Want a cost free way to get recognition for your staff’s efforts? Then submit for an awards programme. There is nothing like recognition from the wider industry for galvanising a workforce and reinforcing a culture of excellence.
Often all it takes to energise your staff is to say thank you for a job well done. Have too many staff to keep track of what all of them are up to? Have you team leaders email you with noteworthy achievements so that when you are doing the rounds
It seems so simple, but do you acknowledge your staff at the beginning and end of every day? This single gesture can set the tone for the entire working day, and ensure that staff feel like an important part of the organisation that they work for.
Help your staff excel at their jobs
In the current climate training can often fall off the map in the face of competing priorities, but this is a sure fire route to a loss of motivation. Mastery is critical to staff engagement, so make sure you are up skilling your staff and giving them tasks that challenge them.
With the rise of remote working, the days of a fixed physical contact centre are numbered. Therefore there is no longer any excuse for maintaining the inflexible 9-5 work arrangements of the past. Instead, allow staff to alter their working hours according to their needs, and watch their performance improve.
Create a champion
Identify the key influencers in the senior management team. As if you are able to secure their support, it is likely to make getting the rest of them on board significantly easier. Also, convincing those who are the least sceptical is unlikely to sway others, but convincing one of your biggest critics can be the key to securing the support of the entire senior leadership team
Communicate across functions
Build consensus across the organisation for the customer experience strategy. Utilise customer journey mapping, to highlight how customers interact at different touch points. The degree of alignment between (technologies, departments and operations) is important to ensuring a consistent customer experience.
Talk to most people and they would be able to compile a list of strategies for staff engagement. But the most important factor is not how many of these strategies you know, but how many you implement on a day to day basis. If you want to change your engagement levels, take the theory and make it practical.
Fix your problems
Start by looking at what’s wrong with your existing customer journey. Fix the product or the process that is broken. Try to capture all of the interactions from your customers where they’ve complained and turn this into something useful. Get your feedback and address the issues to make sure the complaints you get today, aren’t the complaints you get tomorrow. Nobody wants to complain about the same issue, they just won’t bother coming back.
This is connected to the point above. Are you able to do what you say you’re going to do? This is critical. Too many organisations will promise to do certain things. We promise to deliver on time. We promise that we will have certain things in stock. If you are not able to meet your promises to do what you say you’re going to do over and over again your customers will see you as being unreliable and as an organisation that breaks promises. That will make it impossible for you to maintain a relationship with your customers.
Get to know your customers
It might seem obvious, but don’t forget to talk to your customers, and ask them how you can improve the customer experience. Identify the gaps in your customer experience delivery and improve on your weaknesses - tell your customers about it. It’s important that this isn’t a feedback task that’s done every month, six months etc. Speak to your customers, they’re only people, join in the conversations and be interested in their needs.
Make things easy
How easy are you to do business with? Retailers, how easy are you to shop with? Consumers want things to be simple, and clear. We want to start our journey on a mobile and finish on a desktop, make sure you’re retaining that information so it’s not starting from scratch each time. Mobile optimisation and connecting touch points is key to achieving this. Have you put in too many steps? Do you really need all that extra information? Streamline the process as much as possible.
See what’s going on around you
There are a few reasons you should be doing a bit of research into what your competitors are doing. Firstly, it will help you get buy in from senior management. Secondly, it will open up a whole new world of ideas and help you get ahead of the competition. Download whitepapers, follow twitter accounts, attend events and conferences. Benchmark where you are and see how you can get ahead.
Put yourself in different shoes
I don’t mean physically with this one… Put yourself in the place of a customer both for scoping out competition (as mentioned above) but more importantly to audit yourself. Call your contact centre, ask questions online, message your complaints mailbox – do it all and do it frequently. Doing this will really help you iron out your processes and identify and potential issues that may be losing you customers.
Have different messages for different audiences. Don’t send your customers generic messages, recognise your new customers, and acknowledge your long standing ones. This is also where you need to integrate your contact across social media channels, ensuring your accessible digitally. Are there interest communities that relate to your organisation you could be involved in? Are you searching Linked in pages, local area websites, hobby based forums?
Too many organisations are still just names hidden behind a brand. Put your people out there. Can you have customer service advocates on twitter? Can you offer video calls to your customer? Do your customers always have a name and point of contact to follow up with? Don’t hide, if you make a mistake it shows you’re human, simply apologise and work to fix it for next time.
Save time with content
Have a look at the enquiries you receive, are there any subjects that crop up frequently? If so, have a look at producing some content that can save time for both your staff and the end customer. Spending the time to make a how to video, and even a simple FAQ could save 100 inbound calls down the line. It’s also a great way to get your brand and faces behind the company known, use your internal resource to make great content. Arguably, no one knows your users’ needs as well as your customer experience staff, it’s often an untapped resource.
Empower your customers
Successful customer experience is certainly about making sure that you capture what your customers are telling you and turn it into something that makes your service or your product better. It’s not just about closing that transaction and moving on to the next one. There are several customer service initiatives that are entirely community based where the company only plays the part as a participant.
Get the right design
Make the journey attractive, I don’t just mean with nice branding and complimenting colours. Let your customers be involved in design where possible. Test different designs, monitor the customer journey for a few days to see where they click and then focus on that particular element. If your customers drop off at a certain page on the website, have a look at it – does it need a new design?