Customer Experience

How to Create a Great Customer Experience

Drive Referrals and Repeat Business

Most businesses focus resources on the stuff that gets the phone to ring, social sharing, location visits or website traffic. But what happens next can be the difference between a one-time sale or a lifetime customer.   It’s all about the total customer experience.

The term customer experience is the sum of all interactions a customer has with a company over the duration of their relationship.  In other words, it covers all the steps or building blocks on the loyalty ladder:  awareness, discovery, attraction, interaction, purchase, use, cultivation and advocacy.

You have a lot of chances to create a customer experience that gets people talking – good or bad – about your company.    Do it right, you get more repeat business and referrals.  Mess it up, you get none.  Sales and profit suffer, along with your reputation.  Don’t leave it to chance.

Customer Experience | Why It’s Important

Most of us recognize that customer loyalty drives referrals, reviews and repeat business. So this alone is a good reason to focus on improving the customer experience.  But here’s another reason worth considering.  

With products and services becoming commodities fast and price differentiation not sustainable, delivering a superior customer experience really does provide a competitive advantage because others can’t quickly replicate what you are doing.

3 Steps to Superior Customer Experience
Map Out What You Want

What do you want the total customer experience to look like from start to finish?  Here are a few things to consider:

  • How knowledgeable are your people as it relates to your company’s core values, products and services, and your customer needs and expectations?  Interactions with potential customers are not limited to your marketing and sales staff.  Your entire team encounters opportunities inside and outside the business.  Make everyone a customer advocate and give them the knowledge to pull it off.
  • What should your sales process look like from initial contact to ultimate sale? What are the touch points along the way? Building relationships take time and often more than one contact.
  • How should your product or service delivery work in order to insure quality and efficiency?  Is the hand-off from sales seamless to the customer or do they feel abandoned after they purchase or sign a contract?
  • What about billing?  Is it convenient, timely and accurate?  Are you taking advantage of technology to customize methods based on customer preferences?
  • What are you doing after the sale to continue to build the relationship?  Phone follow-up calls and surveys are a great way to say thanks, get feedback and ask for referrals. Do you have a system to insure after sales activities get done consistently?

You probably already have an idea of how you would like the customer experience to work. So decide what you want, document it and implement consistently.

Build a Few Measure to Track and Share

What you select may vary based on your type of business and objectives.  You don’t need a lot of measures, but you do need a few that have an impact on customer retention, satisfaction, and loyalty.  Here are a few examples: 

  • Customer satisfaction scores based on phone survey
  • Quality rating — is it done right the first time?
  • Service level scores — on-time delivery or service appointments.
  • Renewal rate — do customer re-sign up after initial terms?
  • Referrals or online reviews — how many are you receiving each month? 
Look For Ways to Keep Getting Better

Make business improvement and service an ongoing effort. Get your team, customers and suppliers involved.  Here are two questions to consider:

  • What can we do to make it easier for prospects and customers to do business with us?
  • What can we do to inspire them, to make them smile or surprise them? It doesn’t need to be something really big. Simple things like “please” and “thank you” go a long way today.

Make your total customer experience a real asset for your business.  You’ll be rewarded with raving fans who buy again and gladly tells others. Then smile as your competitor’s try to play catch-up.

Ready to Put Your Business on the Path to Success?

Would working with a business coach help you take your business to a whole new level? Then let’s explore the possibilities with a complimentary consultation. It’s a chance to get to know each other, discuss your goals and the obstacles that hold you back. Together we can determine if there is a good fit between your needs and my services.

To learn more or schedule an appointment, call me at (856) 533-2344 or drop me an email Joan@HybridBizAdvisors.com

Customer loyalty

Customer Loyalty: 7 Secrets to Create Raving Fans

“A business absolutely devoted to service will have only one worry about profits – they will be embarrassingly large.” Henry Ford’s words reinforce the importance of customer service, satisfaction, and customer loyalty in your business. So what are you doing to create raving fans – and why is this important?

Why Create Raving Fans?
  • Loyal customers spend more and buy more frequently.
  • Customer satisfaction is linked to customer retention.
  • It’s cheaper to retain profitable customers than acquire new ones.
  • Customers are willing to pay more when service is better than the competition.
  • Happy customers refer others, write reviews and sing your praises every chance they get.
  • Unhappy customers tell anyone who will listen about their negative experience – and social media makes this really easy!
7 Secrets to Improve Customer Service

Get Feedback. Encourage and welcome customer input about how you can improve. Provide a method and process to get constructive comments and suggestions. Customers can be your best advocate and your best source of learning. They are knowledgeable about competitors and what they do or don’t do well. Remember, you cannot fix or improve something if you don’t know it’s broken.

Treat Employees Well. Appreciation starts at the top. Your team will treat customers the way you treat your team. Do you greet them when they arrive? Do you thank them? Do you listen to their concerns and ideas? If you take care of your team, your team will take care of you.

Handle Customer Complaints. No matter how good you are, things can and will go wrong. Identify the source of the top 5-7 complaints, even if they only occur periodically. Then develop a procedure to handle them. Don’t forget to include guidelines and limits of authority so your people, who actually deal with customers, can resolve the majority of complaints without going to the boss! Keep in mind, complaints, if handled well, can actually build loyalty with customers.

Track and Reward Customer Satisfaction. If customer satisfaction is really a priority in your business, demonstrate this to your team and customers. Develop a method to measure it, set goals for improvement and reward the team when the goal is accomplished. Keep it simple.

And here’s another plus. If your documented customer satisfaction score is 95% or better, you now have a great message for use in marketing. It sure beats the ‘we deliver great service’ message so many businesses like to put out there.

Train Your Team. Customer service skills, like technical or sales skills, can be developed and improved with training. While most businesses train new employees, existing team members need ongoing training and development too. In addition to better service, employee training is linked to improved employee retention and satisfaction – a big benefit in a competitive labor market.

Document Your Critical Systems. Too often the source of dissatisfaction or perceived poor quality is tied to your processes. Take a look at your procedures, from initial customer contact through billing and collection. Document what gets done. I guarantee you will find gaps in consistency and opportunities for improvement. Systems put money on the bottom line by reducing re-works, returns or callbacks – a big satisfaction driver.

Set Expectations. In marketing and sales, a  can-do attitude is important, but only if you can deliver what you promise each and every time. Set the right expectations with customers and work to make it happen consistently. Remember the old saying, better to under promise and over deliver!

Ready to Put Your Business on the Path to Success?

Would working with a business coach help you take your business to a whole new level? Then let’s explore the possibilities with a complimentary consultation. It’s a chance to get to know each other, discuss your goals and the obstacles that hold you back. Together we can determine if there is a good fit between your needs and my services.

To learn more or schedule an appointment, call me at (856) 533-2344 or drop me an email Joan@HybridBizAdvisors.com

nurture prospects

Is Your Customer Service Really That Good?

Is Your Customer Service Really That Good?It’s not surprising that when your customer service exceeds expectations, your sales really flow. Afterall, happy customers keep coming back, spend more and tell others.  But what really defines great service and how do you take advantage of this small business opportunity?

Creating a great buying experience takes more than simply doing your job.  It’s about making people feel important.  Being helpful and responsive.  Taking responsibility if something goes wrong.  Or simply listening attentively to them.

When it comes to service, small businesses have a major advantage over bigger companies because of your close and local relationship with your customers!  This personal connection makes you more accessible. Therefore, customers often perceive you as more trustworthy.  And as they say, people do business with people they know and trust!

Customer Service: Questions to Consider

Knowing what helps define great service, here are two questions to really consider.

  • Does your business consistently provide customers with a great buying experience from start to finish?
  • How does your customer experience compare with others they do business with — both inside and outside your industry?

When it comes to business improvements, the customer experience is often overlooked.  Here’s why.  Many business owners believe they offer really good customer service. But customers, when we actually ask them, don’t always agree. And sometimes the gap is really big!

This points out something important when it comes to service and satisfaction. By definition, a customer’s satisfaction is the gap between what the customer expects and what he/she gets.  It applies to all areas of the business, including customer service.  And, it transcends over all industries.  Customers do not compare your service levels with others in your industry; they compare it to other companies they do business with!

3 Steps to Better Customer Service
  • Develop and define the standards of service you want your customers to receive.  Consider what is important to you. when you make a purchase or encounter a problem.
  • Train your people to deliver those standards consistently.  Yes, it helps to hire people who care! But it also helps when your people understand what is expected and why this is important to customers.
  • Set the expectations for your customers and manage those expectations well. As the saying goes, better to under promise and over deliver!

If you are not sure how your service measures up, do a little research.  Pick up the phone and ask your customers to participate in a brief phone survey — and really listen!  Check out online reviews that are relevant to your business – what are your customers really saying. Implement a mystery shopping program (they are not just for retail establishments). Get feedback and ideas from your team, especially those on the front line!

RELATED: 7 Secrets to Create Raving Fans 

More Ways to Grow Your Business

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qualfrst2

How To Get It Right The First Time

When it comes to delivering what we promise, mistakes sometimes happen. We are, after all, human. As business owners, we strive to keep customers happy, so when mistakes occur, we do what we must to make it right. Often this means we do it over or go back and fix it.

Getting it right for the customer is certainly a key to retention and future referrals. But if we don’t address the root cause, the problem will occur again and will continue to erode profit and your reputation.

How To Reduce The Quality Problems In Your Business

First, understand the true cost of poor quality. When work needs to be redone, it costs you three times – first, you pay for the original work, second, you pay for the work to be done again, and third, the opportunity cost of lost revenue that you could have earned on new work if you weren’t fixing the old work. Do the math – it’s often enough to motivate owners to focus more on quality.

Next, look at the systems and procedures you have in place. When mistakes occur, the tendency is to blame the people involved. Sure people implement your procedures, but well-documented systems can help reduce the human error that causes mistakes to occur in the first place.

Here are a few things to consider when documenting your systems:

  • Customer information or data that is critical to fulfilling the order or delivery of service and the procedure when something is missing.
  • Common problems or mistakes that occur in your daily business and what can be done to reduce them (double-check, red flags, etc.)
  • Quality control checks that are in place to catch mistakes before they happen
  • Decision-points with clear direction to address exceptions that may occur
  • The technology you can employ to help improve the procedure

Then, consider the people element. Are your people trained to implement your systems? Do they possess the skills needed to do the work? The right people, properly trained, with the right systems, can make a big difference.

Finally, measure quality in your business. Depending on the type of business, this may include rejects or rework, on-time delivery, customer complaints, etc. Select what is relevant and begin tracking it. Share it with your team and set goals together for improvement.

The right systems and people can go a long way to help you get it right the first time. Make it a focus in your business – and you’ll create raving fans and a healthier bottom line.  For help with developing systems in your business, check out my Ultimate Systems & Procedures Guide for Small Businesses.

Ready to Put Your Business on the Path to Success?

Would working with a business coach help you take your business to a whole new level? Then let’s explore the possibilities with a complimentary consultation. It’s a chance to get to know each other, discuss your goals and the obstacles that hold you back. Together we can determine if there is a good fit between your needs and my services.

To learn more or schedule an appointment, call me at (856) 533-2344 or drop me an email Joan@HybridBizAdvisors.com

Keep Valued Customers

7 Ways to Keep Valued Customers

It is often said, “Customers go where they are wanted and stay where they are appreciated”. When businesses lose valued customers, they often assume it was related to price, competition or even the brother-in-law who now does what you do. But research shows that over 65% leave because of perceived indifference — they just don’t think you care. So what are you doing to keep valued customers coming back and feeling important?

So how much time and money do you invest in retaining and building relationships with your current customers? Now compare this to the resources you spend attracting new ones. Are you surprised?

New customers are the lifeblood of most businesses and yes, they are important. But if your new customers simply replace those you lose, it’s costing you a lot! Losing customers can drastically affect your reputation, credibility, referrals, sales and profits.

How to Keep Valued Customers

Never assume you know what customers want – ask them! Customer needs change. So does competition. Customer surveys are a great tool for understanding what customers want and need, evaluating your performance and uncovering innovative ways to solve their problems or exceed their expectations. One of the best questions you can ask is “On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how would you rate our service? Anything less than a 10 (and most are), should be followed with “What do we need to do to be a 10?”. The answers may surprise or maybe even inspire you.

Measure and reward customer satisfaction and retention. If customer satisfaction and retention is really a priority in your business, demonstrate this to your team. Develop a method to measure it, set goals for improvement and reward the team when the goal is accomplished. This approach works for any improvement you wish to make because when you measure something, it becomes the focus. And with focus, comes improvement.

Select the right people. When you hire employees or select subcontractors to interact with your customers, make sure they value customers and possess the skills to deliver to your standards. Are they empathetic and trustworthy? Can they communicate well and listen to learn? Each customer contact with you, your team or other partners is an opportunity to build your reputation or destroy it. Make the selection of people a priority.

Say Thank You. Sounds obvious but consider this. When was the last time you received a thank-you note from a company you do business with? This simple strategy can really make an impact and says a lot about your company and the value you place on customers.

Stay connected with your customers. Whether you do it by phone, mail or email, make sure your customers know you are thinking of them. Too often, we only connect when we’re trying to sell something. A simple thank you, a request for feedback, or a holiday greeting card can all do the trick. If you want to add a special offer, just for them, even better! While the frequency may vary based on your business or industry, quarterly contacts should be your minimum goal!

Make customers feel like VIP’s. Your current customers need to feel more appreciated than non-customers or prospects. While new customers are important to growth, make sure current customers get some VIP treatment. Programs, offers or specials that are exclusively available to current, loyal customers (VIP’s) work well – so build some into your marketing efforts.

Make customer service everyone’s responsibility. Does everyone in your company understand the value of customers and are they ready to help them regardless of whose job it really is? Train your team on customer service and give them the tools and ability to take care of your customers. From the receptionist to the delivery driver, your team will make an impression. The kind they make is up to you!

Make Service and Retention a Priority

When you plan for the coming year, sprinkle in a few strategies to improve service and retain your valuable customers. They are a great source of referrals and word-of-mouth advertising. Here’s the best part. These strategies cost a lot less than generating leads for new customers. For more ideas, download my 155+ Profit Building Ideas.

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