While there are many ways to create positive emotions to fuel brand trust, loyalty, and referrals, customer satisfaction starts with employees first. When employees are genuinely happy, it transfers to customers regardless of industry or location in the world. I know this first hand having worked at Global companies for over 20 years and from interviewing people during my business and personal travels. There are few individuals that stand out from my recent trip as they reinforce what I always say: People make the difference and serve as a brand differentiator.
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.
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There’s an increasing amount of conversations about both customer experience (CX) as well as diversity in the workplace, and I love it! I believe that the next generation, including my own daughter, will have more opportunities to share their voice, without judgments, and pursue jobs that they may not have in the past.
I’m writing this article for two reasons:
No company is perfect. Inevitably, employees will make mistakes. The impact of those mistakes on brand image is not necessarily related to WHAT happens as much as HOW employees handle a problem. Recently, I encountered a situation that reinforces the importance of customer experience (CX) and employee engagement. Continue reading “How To Turn Mistakes Into Positive Customer Experiences”
Loyalty programs are a great way for companies to entice people to buy again and again. Customers continue to subscribe and purchase when they can earn points that are redeemable for products and services they perceive as Continue reading “Important Lessons In Retaining Customers”