Some companies invest in Customer Experience (CX) as an afterthought. Other brands are 100% focussed on allocating resources to create customer excellence. They purposely establish budgets to build and expand a CX team, and measure customer satisfaction and related KPIs daily. They also close the loop to fix identified customer pain points. Continue Reading →
The smallest gestures by frontline employees can be a significant reason shoppers turn into repeat buyers. I was reminded of this when buying clothing at a department store recently. Upon bringing my items to the register, the nice woman asked questions about my day and overall shopping experience. I was surprised by our first interaction as warm greetings don’t happen frequently enough. Why is that? Saying “hello” and good-bye” is such an easy way to delight customers. I especially love when company owners greet customers. (Read my Woodloch story).
Besides a pleasant dialogue when first meeting, my experience got even better. The lady scanned each item and noticed that none of the clothes I was buying were on sale. She asked me if I had any promotional offers but unfortunately, I did not. She proceeded to explain that customers who have their store credit card receive discounts, and then inquired if I wanted to get one. I kindly declined and was prepared to pay full price for the items. At that moment, the woman went into her drawer and took out a coupon to apply to my purchase. She saved me $25. Although it was not a significant amount of money, it was a highly satisfying moment. I did not expect her to provide me any discount especially since I declined the credit card offer. I thanked the woman twice and told her how much I appreciated my purchase experience ALL BECAUSE OF HER. I walked out of the store a happy customer and continue to be a repeat purchaser.
My personal story provides several customer experience lessons:
- Frontline employees matter. They matter a lot! Businesses need to empower their staff to be brand ambassadors. Managers need to encourage employees to surprise and delight customers even when they are not looking.
- Company leaders need to recognize employees who create exceptional experiences. When employees are happy, customers benefit too. Attitudes are contagious.
- Buyers often care more about EXPERIENCE over PRICE when choosing brands. There’s tons of research to prove this statement. I especially like a report published by CMO. It emphasizes that experiences drive customer loyalty and that addressing customer needs must be FIRST PRIORITY!
KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM MERKLE’S RESEARCH STUDY:
- “More than half (52%) of online buyers said they stopped shopping on a brand website due to bad site experiences.” I 100% agree, which is why I’m a big advocate of doing user testing with real customers in pre AND post-launch stages.
- “Word of mouth is the most organic and valuable form of marketing, and it will only increase when customers feel that their experience is worth sharing.” Yes indeed, which is why so many companies rely on the Net Promoter Score (NPS).
- “Customers are looking for long-term, connected experiences that are as EFFICIENT as they are enjoyable.” This is very true, and why I emphasize the importance of including “level of effort” in CX measurement programs. NPS is useful but even more so when combined with other metrics. Read the Wallstreet article and my personal views about this topic.
What is your perspective?
I’m interested in hearing examples of when a company employee went above and beyond to make your buying experience a memorable one. How did you feel? Did you purchase again because of that experience, even when you could buy somewhere else for a better price? Share your views by joining CX conversations on Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
WANT TO INCREASE YOUR CX SKILLS & TRANSFORM YOUR ORGANIZATION?
There’s a common phrase, “Happy Employees Bring Happy Customers.” It is so true! When people feel valued and enjoy their workplace, they are more likely to be engaged and committed to delighting customers and maximizing their satisfaction and loyalty.
So, how does a company apply this principle to achieve business growth? The following are 5 effective ways that apply to all industries:
Create a Customer-Centric Organization
A centralized customer experience organization is able to monitor the quality of the experiences they deliver.
This kind of organizational setup enables teams to take action on Voice of Customer (VOC) feedback, including structured data (i.e. surveys) and unstructured sources (i.e. social media.). It helps ensure there are clear actions and ownership in the company, plus a champion of customer-first culture at the top.
Empower Employee Engagement
Employee engagement is essential to deliver exceptional customer experiences. Collecting customer feedback is great. However, this is a wasted effort if employees don’t execute on improvement plans.
Employees have a direct impact on customer experiences. In an environment with low employee engagement, success metrics like NPS scores inevitably decline. If you think about the most successful brands, they trust their employees and routinely measure their level of job happiness.
Again, if you want to delight customers, make sure employee satisfaction is included in the overall strategy.
Train Employees on CX
Every level of the organization must be educated about the importance of customer experience and how they can make a difference! This includes front line employees, managers, and executives.
Furthermore, every employee must be held accountable for delivering customer excellence. To promote accountability, I highly recommend including CX metrics in everyone’s annual objectives. Include the ability to get bonuses when employees achieve goals, similar to other key performance indicators (KPIs). I have tested this theory throughout my career and can unequivocally say that, when CX is a shared goal among all employees (not just a few) business results are significantly better.
Emphasize the importance of humanizing customer experiences throughout your organization. This starts with meeting customer needs without over-complicating processes.
Often, small things mean the most. For instance, using simple “please” and “thank you” statements help make customers feel like they matter. It is actually the secret to Chick-fil-A’s success. Also, “eye contact and smiling go a long way in the drive-thru experience.”
When customers feel appreciated, they are more satisfied. And they are more likely to recommend brands to others. The concept is obvious. Yet, it’s surprising how often employees forget the human element when they interact with customers.
Leverage Technology The Right Way
Many companies use tools and platforms to fully understand what customers are saying across channels and touchpoints. However, they don’t always incorporate the Voice of Employee (VOE), which is a key element in building a successful customer-centric program.
Employees need to know their opinions count. When that happens, they become better performers who are more motivated to serve customers, fix their issues (“Close The Loop”), and do the right thing even when their boss isn’t looking.
If you want to drive accountability and a CX culture, focus first on employees. Then look at technology. Not the other way around.
WANT TO INCREASE YOUR CX SKILLS & TRANSFORM YOUR ORGANIZATION?
Today, we’re pleased to share a guest post by Annette Franz, CCXP of CX Journey. This article originally appeared on her site on August 11, 2015.
In the world of customer experience, what’s the difference between outside-in and inside-out? Continue Reading →