Whether you run a small business or manage a large company, customer experience management is critical to sales growth, customer retention and long-term success.
Customer experience is part of your brand.
It’s what people say about their experience with you and your brand or business. It forms the foundation of the first impressions people have with your brand. If those first impressions are poor, your chance of lead conversion and ongoing sales success is small.
At Brokers International, we invest in the customer experience because we know it affects our brand. That has always been true, but it is even more so today. The marketplace is digital and social media is the town square.
What people say about you, your business or the way you do business is amplified today. One customer review can make or break your business because that one review is showcased on Google Maps, Yelp, search results and more.
When someone searches for your business today, a customer review accompanies the listing of your address and contact information. If that review is good, it may make the difference between a visit to your company versus one of your competitors.
So while providing a positive customer experience has always mattered, today word travels faster, leaving less room for error or inattentiveness to your brand.
CX management starts with research.
Managing the customer experience begins with understanding the journey customers take with your brand. For large companies, understanding is gained through customer journey mapping and research investments into every touch point a customer has with your brand.
For smaller businesses, customer journey research can be done by putting yourself in the customer’s shoes. If you have an office, enter it as one of your customers would. Pretend you’ve never been there.
What do you see?
What is your impression?
Are you welcomed with a greeting and an offer of water or coffee while you wait?
Pay special attention to how phone calls are answered. We require managers to listen in on the phone conversations our employees have with customers. It’s not because we don’t trust them. Rather, we want to monitor the customer experience for consistency and conformity with our established brand identity and messaging.
We look for consistency with greetings and salutations because we consider that a hallmark of good customer service.
We prioritize customer experience in two significant ways — we don’t outsource customer service or receptionist duties, and we invest in a robust CRM system capable of giving all of our sales and customer service representatives up-to-date, accurate information about our customers. Whenever a customer calls, whoever answers the phone has all the information our business knows about that customer, including notes from the most recent conversation at the top of the screen, right at their fingertips.
These two aspects of customer experience management help us nurture existing relationships, reduce turnover in an already volatile environment, and improve our bottom line numbers.
Customer experience doesn’t end with the sale.
People often forget about the experience a customer has with their brand or business after they’ve left the office or completed a sale. But acquisition is just the beginning. Successful businesses keep in touch with their customers and continue to provide value after the first transaction is over.
My stylist offers a perfect example. She’s in her 70s but markets like a millennial. She sends a personalized thank-you text message when you leave her salon. She asks what she can do to improve the experience you had and directs you to call her, not a 1-800 number. She takes time and care to create an environment tailored to her customers’ interests, needs and desires.
The personal touch that many excellent small business owners are known for can be extended to big businesses as well through the purchase of a robust CRM system like the one described above.
Another way large companies can improve the customer experience and provide a personal touch throughout their operations is with the terminology used internally to refer to customers.
At Brokers International, we don’t reference customers as “accounts” because accounts aren’t human. We call our clients customers and the people who manage them “people managers” rather than “account managers,” for no other reason than that we want to constantly reinforce the fact that that our customers are humans and that we are in the business of building healthy, long-term relationships with them.
If your numbers are lackluster, it could be because of coronavirus. Or it could be the result of a poor customer experience. Spend some time this quarter thinking about the customer journey with your brand and what you can do to improve it.
Improving your customer experience management could make a positive difference on your overall performance and lead to the long-term health of your brand.