The customer experience is every interaction that a customer has with your business, from the very first time they find your website, shop, or social media pages, to every time they comment or like what you do, right up to making a purchase or working with you.
It’s something that continually evolves, and since the start of the Covid 19 pandemic, it’s developed faster than every before. During the various lockdowns, we all had to adapt our businesses to cope with being more visible online…and customers have found that they like the services that businesses started to offer during this time and want it to continue.
For the rest of 2022 and into 2023, there are several things you can do to ensure that your business evolves to match those new customer experience trends.
The Digital Experience
These days people use technology more than ever to find what they want – most of us reach for our phones to look at things we want to buy. We can see what the best products are, compare prices and look at reviews to see which is the best to buy. If you’re a small business and not online in several places, you’re missing a trick.
The obvious one is to have a website. I know that many small businesses have online shops, such as Etsy, to sell their products, but at the end of the day, you don’t own that shop. You must pay high fees and the owners of Etsy could shut you down whenever they want.
Whereas, if you have your own website, you own it. No one can take it away from you and you can put so much more information about your business on it – you’re not just restricted to a shop. As well as being able to tell your backstory through your ‘About’ page, you can also set up an email subscription to communicate regularly with your customers and set up a blog to share information with them. It’s more personal.
Your social media accounts are also useful to gain a following and promote your products or services. You can also promote your website, blog, or email subscription, with links to your website.
Consumers expect you to be on these channels and they are the best way to engage and interact with your customers and potential customers.
Another positive for the customer experience is personalisation. They like personalised experiences when they engage with a business. And not just greeting them by name in emails etc, or remembering birthdays, they want more than that. They expect to be able to contact businesses on their terms – using email, chat, voice calls, messaging etc. They want their enquiry answered in a timely way and don’t want to waste their time waiting or having to repeat themselves.
As things have evolved to a more digital world, customer expectations have grown. And if you make any kind of promise to a customer, they will expect it to happen quickly.
How do you find out what their expectations are? Ask them! Put questions on your social media pages to find out what they like and don’t like.
You could send out a link to a survey…and offer a discount in exchange for completing it.
It also helps to look at your competition to see what they’re doing and how they interact with their customers. If you run the same, or a similar business to that of your competitors, your customers will have similar problems.
Identify customers’ pain points
To turn your customers into fans and advocates for your business, you must exceed expectations. Look at the pain points that your customers have and find out how you can address them with what you do.
Some common pain points include shipping, returns, sizing and being able to easily contact you. By looking at these and other pain points, you can exceed expectations and create very happy customers, who will recommend you.
Your customers put positive experiences above everything else, as you can see from some of the latest statistics below.
The Omnichannel experience
Omnichannel simply means lots of different channels – social media, website, email, chat etc.
To maximise this experience for your customers, ensure that you are consistent across all channels – that branding and the way you speak and interact is the same. And that your customer service is excellent and exceeds expectations on all channels.
Data Security and privacy
Another thing that customers are very aware of these days is data security and privacy. There is so much on the news and online about this that most people know they have certain rights.
The emphasis on data security and privacy is only going to increase over the coming months and years. As your customers share more personal data, businesses must adhere to the General Data Protection Regulations, (GDPR) relevant to the country you trade in, as well as the countries you sell to.
You need to have your customers’ consent to email them – most email subscriptions include an opt-in, where customers willingly give their name and email address, so they are consenting to you sending emails.
Never share your customers’ data with third parties or sell lists of customers email addresses.
You can find out more about GDPR online for your country, but here are a couple of useful links.
Top tips for a great customer experience
Businesses with great customer experiences have higher customer referral rates and higher rates of customer satisfaction. This means you’re more likely to keep those customers’ loyalty and they’re more likely to come back for more. Word of mouth is one of the most powerful marketing tools you can have – your customers do the marketing for you, saving you time and money.
In today’s market, you not only need to compete on price, but you also need to compete on experiences, that is, your customers want to feel emotionally connected to you and your business.
Here are some of my top tips for creating that great customer experience:
- Every business should have a mission statement and set goals. Make the customer experience part of your mission statement and have specific goals to enhance that experience.
- Be friendly – whether you are talking to customers face to face, or via video call or phone, SMILE! Believe it or not, you can hear that friendly smile. If you’re face to face, make eye contact. And always use warm, friendly language and tone of voice.
- Have empathy for your customers. Do your best to understand them and what they want. Make the experience they have with your business, the best!
- Provide value – by this I don’t mean that your products should be cheaper than everyone else’s. I mean deliver the best value you can, at the right price for your customers. Make sure your prices are easy to find and are visible – people don’t have to go looking – they’ll just log out. Make the sales process as quick, efficient, and easy as you can.
Make sure that your shop or website is easy to navigate and doesn’t take ages to load – or you will lose customers.
- Be easy to contact. This speaks for itself. Make sure that your contact details are on every channel you use…be that your phone number, email address or chat box.
- Be consistent with everything you do and never stop looking for ways to improve. Listen to your customers, take note of any feedback you get and act on it.
- Finally, show your appreciation for your customers. Sometimes a simple ‘thank you’ is enough, whether that is face to face or via email.
I hope that this article has been helpful – if you have any further suggestions or have any questions, please feel free to comment below. Alternatively, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me via my website.