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Having a great product used to be enough. But in a world awash with clever, creative ideas (and with new products coming to market ever faster), a ‘great’ product no longer has the same pull. Competitiveness now comes from a great customer experience (CX), too. And Walker predicts that by 2020, CX will overtake price and product as the key differentiator between brands.
But there’s a challenge when it comes to CX, and it can be summed up as the delivery gap – the difference in how the company and its customers perceive the experience. And the gap is surprisingly big. According to Bain & Company, 80% of senior executives think their company provides a superior experience, but only 8% of their customers agree.
Is there a CX delivery gap in your organisation? There may well be if you’re making any of these 5 common customer experience mistakes.
Mistake 1: Not making it easy to speak to humans
With the proliferation of technology, more companies are using voice recognition-based phone lines and chatbots for customer service. And there’s no question that there’s a time and place for these in the customer service mix.
But customers still want to be able to speak to a person when needed. After all, if we’re having an issue or need help, we instinctively seek human-specific responses like reassurance, empathy and sincerity (as well as timely resolution). Indeed, Engage Hub’s Fragile Customer Experience Report found that ‘friendly’ is the most important feature of good customer service, with ‘accessible’ and ‘personal’ also representing key characteristics.
Having a dedicated service line isn’t enough anymore. Customers must be able to call the number and speak to someone in a reasonable amount of time, which means you need to be able to adjust the number of call handlers in response to demand.
Mistake 2: Having unhelpful staff on the front line
You should always lead with your best foot, and this includes putting well-informed, proactive and charismatic staff members in customer-facing roles. When your employees feel valued, they’re more likely to make customers feel valued, too, which means ensuring satisfaction with pay, training and the working environment.
In the same way that you need to listen to customer feedback (more on that shortly), you also need to listen to employee feedback. That way you’re in a strong position to attract and retain engaged staff who act as effective ambassadors.
Mistake 3: Forgetting the customer is always right
Businesses need clear customer service policies to protect their best interests. However, failing to apply these policies flexibly on a case-by-case basis can irreparably ruin the customer experience.
Successful companies know that following the spirit (rather than the letter) of the law when dealing with complaints can make a world of difference to the customer – with minimal cost to the organisation.
Do your customer service representatives stick rigidly to policies? Is there a policy of (even lightly) blaming the customer for not reading terms and conditions? If so, consider training staff on how to be flexible while still enforcing policies. Provide clear guidelines on when they can use their judgement and when they need to escalate a complaint.
Staff should also receive thorough training on how to handle difficult customers. It takes practice to make people feel heard and understood. And having a culture that focuses on this skill translates into sales. In fact, McKinsey research found that maximising satisfaction in customer journeys has the potential to lift revenue by 15%.
Mistake 4: Failing to gather and implement feedback
You can’t close your CX delivery gap if you can’t benchmark and measure. And that means you need to collate qualitative and quantitative feedback from your range of customers.
Simply asking customers whether they enjoyed their shopping experience won’t necessarily get you clear answers, because when 65% of consumers are brand loyal, the CX of one transaction won’t necessarily help you understand whether the lifetime relationship is as good as it could be.
Encourage participation in surveys by ensuring they’re convenient and short, and be transparent about how long it takes to complete them. Use anonymous methods and cover the full customer journey. And don’t forget to use that insight to make adjustments – the data provides the business case for change.
Mistake 5: Not making an emotional connection
‘It’s not personal, it’s business.’ We’re all familiar with the phrase, but it couldn’t be more incorrect when it comes to CX.
Personal touches are key – they make a big psychological impact. Starbucks and Apple are known for this. At Starbucks, you get your name on your takeaway coffee cups. Apple staff are trained to say goodbye to everyone and ask them to come back soon.
When your customers feel emotionally connected to your company, you’re far more likely to get that all-important repeat business. According to Harvard Business Review,‘fully connected’ individuals are 52% more valuable, on average, than those who are just ‘highly satisfied’ because they’re more likely to purchase from you and recommend you.
Are you ready to start closing your customer experience delivery gap?