Almost three-quarters of Americans cite customer experience as an important factor in their buying decisions. Yet only about a half of that same group thinks brands provide a good customer experience today.
When you give your customers a great experience, they'll spend more money and stay with your brand longer. Many businesses take the wrong approach by focusing on the way their product or service works or how it looks. Those are important aspects, too, but it's the elements of customer experience that are the most important. Customers want speed, convenience, consistency, friendliness—and a human touch—even more than they want features.
Here are 10 customer experience examples you can use to supercharge your CX strategy starting today.
1. Treat Your Employees Like Rock Stars
According to customer service and CX expert Shep Hyken, when you treat your employees like rock stars, they will, in turn, treat your customers (and their fellow employees) the same way. Just as rock stars connect with their audience, leadership must connect with their employees. The goal? Engaged employees who never want to leave the company.
CX keynote speaker James Dodkins wrote the book (literally) on how employee morale and fulfillment affect the customer experience. Dodkins says:
"If you want to put your customers first, you need to put your employees first—first."
Here are a few tips for making this philosophy work (with some rock star lingo).
- Meet and greets. Have your employees meet your customers. It helps them understand the impact they have. Your employees need to know that the work they do on a daily basis has a positive effect on other people's lives.
- Fan mail. Send a handwritten letter to the employee explaining how valuable they are to the organization. It's a great way to show your appreciation.
- Give employees their solo. Have internal TED talks. This gives employees a chance to speak about what they do for the company. A three- or four-minute talk is all it takes.
If you engage with your employees rationally, they'll take the job. But if you engage with them emotionally, they'll stay for life.
Gary Vaynerchuk is the chairman of VaynerX, the CEO of VaynerMedia, and a five-time New York Times bestselling author. In a LinkedIn post he said:
"The way for a CEO to build great culture is not just through words or posters that are hanging on the wall—but through actions. It's about making every employee understand that you care about them more than you want them to care about you."
2. Create a Customer-Focused Business
A customer-focused business means it's all about your customers from the start. When you're preparing (or repairing) your business strategy, you should ask yourself some questions.
- What are the most convenient options for them?
- How can you save time for them?
- What will they think about your product or service?
- How will they react to every aspect of your business?
- Are they comfortable or not?
- What is their perception of your business?
- What is their attention span with your products?
You get the idea. The more ways you can put your customers first, the better chance you have of winning their business and loyalty. You need to exceed their expectations and make their lives easier. When you create a customer-focused business, you're solving their problems and becoming the go-to resource for the product or service you offer.
3. Form an Emotional Connection with Your Customers
Did you know that 50% of consumers buy stuff because they're emotionally involved? According to a Small Business Administration study, strong emotions help to build a bond between your customers and your brand. That leads to a purchase for about half of everyone shopping.
When a customer sees your brand as more than the sum of your products and/or services, you're truly connecting with them. You're providing reasons for them to love your brand before they buy something from you.
Business.com listed three valuable steps to building a lasting emotional connection with customers. They described it as building brand intimacy.
- Practice empathy. Pay attention to your customers. Try to put yourself in their shoes and understand their problems at every touchpoint.
- Be authentic. Don't be like every other brand. Be yourself. Today's consumers expect you to connect with them on a human level. Find your brand's unique qualities and be real.
- Tell stories. Strong storytelling plays a key role in building brand intimacy. Build traditions around your products and services rather than listing features.
4. Respond to Questions and Comments Quickly
We're living in an age where consumers require immediate attention when they have a question. They're not interested in waiting for an answer. So you need to prepare to solve their problems as quickly as possible. How important is timeliness in the customer experience? Approximately 75% of consumers will probably switch brands if it's too difficult for them to buy something from you.
Everywhere you interact with consumers, be sure to respond to them quickly. Whether it's on the telephone, via email or chat, or on a social media channel, don't wait to provide an answer to their inquiries. The more quickly you can respond the better.
Having said that, it's even more important to be thorough. Almost all consumers surveyed said they'd rather have high-quality support over speed. So, respond quickly and do a great job communicating with your soon-to-be customers. The results will speak for themselves.
5. Install AI Into Your CX Strategy
If you want to create a better customer experience, you'll need some form of artificial intelligence. AI has evolved into a customer experience trend that won't go away anytime soon. In fact, it's still gaining momentum. About 40% of businesses have already added AI in some form. That's a 270% increase in the past four years. AI won’t necessarily take over the job of a human, but it will help support CX efforts as an assistant.
Let's look at a couple of examples.
Chatbots Provide AI Support on Your Website
The same technology that gave us text messaging and IM conversations on Facebook and other social media platforms also gives us the ability to equip our websites with that same tech. A live chat feature on your website produces results. It grows sales, revenue, and loyalty. Plus, your customers love it. Around 40% of consumers prefer live chat over email and social media because they get real-time answers to their questions.
If you install a chatbot to help you assist your customers, make sure you do it right. Almost 85% of consumers have given up on a brand because their live chat feature was slow.
AI Personalizes the Customer Experience
AI loves data. It thrives on it. And it will help you create a customer experience strategy for your patrons that naturally integrates with their everyday lives. You can look at each individual shopper's behaviors, then predict and deliver your product to them before they realize they're running low.
Amazon has mastered this type of personalization. In fact, they reorganized their entire business around it. One of the many ways Amazon uses AI is to anticipate how much of a product you're going to buy and when you're going to buy it. This saves time (and money) for each customer that takes advantage of it.
6. Surveys Let You Know How Your Customers Feel
The best way to find out exactly what your customers want and what they're thinking is to ask them. There are a variety of ways to do this, but first you'll need to decide what type of survey you'd like to create.
- Post-purchase survey. The post-purchase survey asks your customers what they thought of the sales process immediately or shortly after they complete a purchase.
- Periodic satisfaction survey. Target a specific group of customers to get their feedback. This is something you could do annually or during any other timeframe of your choosing.
- Continuous satisfaction survey. Follow customers through the entire customer lifecycle by asking for their feedback at every stage.
Depending upon what you want to learn from your customers, you'll need to ask them the right questions. Are you measuring their loyalty? Then you'll want to get a Net Promoter Score (NPS). For example, would they recommend your business to a friend? If you're measuring customer satisfaction (CSAT), you'll want to know how satisfied your customers are with your products and/or services.
Regardless of what you're trying to discover about your customers, there are some best practices you should follow.
- Keep your survey short (no more than 10 questions).
- Make sure the questions are clear and unbiased.
- Offer some kind of incentive.
- Before you send it, test it carefully.
Lastly, determine where you want your survey to appear (email, direct mail, SMS, etc.) and always provide open text space for your customers to say what's on their minds. You'll likely receive some unexpected insights.
7. Use All Your Available Marketing Channels
When you want to create the ultimate customer experience, it's wise to look at all your available marketing channels. This means you'll need to adopt a multichannel or omnichannel approach. Let's look at the benefits of both.
With multichannel marketing, you're wisely giving your customers a choice of how they can communicate with you. You're not limiting them. For example, they could buy your product at your retail storefront, if you have one.
Alternatively, they could purchase it from your website or through your direct mail catalog. Then on social, they have a passageway to shop via your website.
With omnichannel marketing, you're taking all the aforementioned channels and making them work together. For instance, a customer could start their buying journey on one channel and complete it on another. Here's an example.
Let's say your brand offers products in a retail store and on your website. While a customer is on their mobile device, they could find a product they like via your site. Then they could buy it online and pick it up in your store. That's just one of many omnichannel possibilities. The concept is that all your channels tie together. They work in unison.
8. Go Mobile with Your Website Design
More than half of all website visits are coming from mobile devices. Plus, mobile commerce accounts for almost 25% of all online sales. That means if you want to give your customers the best experience—and boost sales—you need to make sure your website is optimized for mobile.
Few things stick in the craw of a customer more than an antiquated website, force-fed to them on their mobile device. It screams that you aren't with the times, and it creates red flags of distrust. Needless to say, that's bad for business. In fact, not only will customers turn away, Google will remove you from mobile search results if your site isn't mobile friendly.
A responsive website design is crucial. With this technology, you create the content, then the website adapts on its own depending upon what screen size, platform, and orientation your customers are using. By choosing a responsive, mobile-friendly website design, you'll immediately place yourself in elite company. Only 35% of all businesses are committed to providing the best CX with a mobile-optimized design.
9. Reward Your Customers with a Loyalty Program
Studies show that it's up to 25x more difficult to acquire a new customer than it is to keep a current one. With that in mind, you should devote a good amount of your energy towards keeping the customers you already have. One of the best ways to do this is with a loyalty program.
Almost 70% of consumers are more likely to do business with your brand—and stay—if you have a good loyalty program. You're probably well aware of some big brands that have excelled with their customer loyalty programs.
Amazon and Starbucks come to mind immediately. What are the keys to their success? Let's look at a few things you can implement into your rewards program.
- Levels of loyalty. Develop tiers in your program so customers who buy from you more frequently receive rewards more often. The top tier can be like an exclusive club. This will keep your best customers happy while incentivizing the others to join them.
- Free shipping. For those customers who purchase a specific amount, reward them with free shipping. Nobody likes to pay for shipping. Give your customers a reason not to.
- Make it easy to understand. When designing your loyalty program, make it easy to understand—and join. Spell out all the details and benefits in clear, easy-to-understand language and make it as inviting as possible. That's a reward in itself.
If you're undecided about whether you should start a loyalty program, look to your customers. Who are they? Millennials are more likely to belong to a loyalty program than the total population. Offer a pilot program to figure out what your customers like and how they feel about your rewards. You'll have the confidence that you're offering a high-quality rewards program if you get their pre-approval.
10. The Handwritten Thank-You Note Shows How Much You Care
Earlier we spoke about the CX element of human touch. It's the most important of the customer experience examples because it lets them know how much you appreciate their business. For example, if you take the time to send a handwritten thank-you note to your customers for an order, you're demonstrating how much you care about them. Almost every customer will appreciate this kind of correspondence.
Let's consider how time-consuming that may be, however. Depending upon how many customers you have to write to and what you have to say to them, it could take over your entire workday. An especially helpful alternative to writing each thank-you note by hand is digital handwriting. This is a great strategy regardless of how many notes you have to send, but it's especially effective when you have a large batch. Let's look at a couple examples.
- Do you thank your customers for their first order? A handwritten notecard with a thankful message is a great way to welcome them to your business.
- Another digital handwriting CX solution is to schedule handwritten notes on your customer's birthdays. Marketing automation comes into play here, triggering a direct mail business note with your choice of typestyle and ink color.
You could also run a full direct mail campaign accented with handwritten notes and messages to your customers. Whether you're sharing an offer, announcing a new service, or even sending holiday wishes, a handwritten note is both an engaging and powerful customer service gesture.
Contact us to learn how you can improve your CX platform with digitally handwritten business notes.