Great customer experience doesn’t just happen. It is planned, designed and mindfully delivered. That’s because there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to customer experience. There’s a reason that true differentiation on the experiences you deliver are among the hardest things for any competitor to copy – because your experience is unique to your business strategy, your brand and your knowledge of your customers.
It’s at this intersection – business strategy, brand and customer experience – that you have the ability to delight and amaze your customers. To help your thinking as you move down this path, I’ve mapped out 23 (of the hundreds of possible) tips to get you started – or help move you along – your path to delivering “customer delight” in ways that no competitor can match.
I’ve seen companies do just one of these exceedingly well, turning the dials in ways that delight and amaze executives, too. What if you did two, or three? There’s just one way to find out…
1. Always Try to Do Better
Walt Disney said, “Just do your best work – then try to trump it.” If you REALLY try to make experiences and interactions better for your customers, they’ll notice. And so will you – as loyalty and engagement grow, too.
2. Anticipate Customer Needs
You almost certainly have access to the data that increasingly surrounds your customers and their interactions with you. Use it to better understand what they want and how they want it – and give it to them.
3. Deliver Beyond Customer Expectations
Of course this requires knowing what customer expectations are in the first place. But even the little things (like a free video view from Amazon) can put a smile on your customers face, making the experience that much better.
4. Be Consistent Across Channels
Customers expect consistently excellent experiences across an increasingly diverse set of channels. And when the experience isn’t consistent from one channel to the next, it feels broken. By working to eliminate data and service silos, it’s easier to be consistent.
5. Continually Ensure Your customers Value What you Offer
Make it a practice to ask yourselves why customers should do business with you over the competition. What’s truly unique about your product or service? Why does this matter to your customers? What problems do you solve, or goals do you help them achieve?
6. Eliminate Dissatisfaction (So You Can Focus on Loyalty)
Though there’s no real correlation between satisfaction and loyalty, the fact is you can’t create customer loyalty until you’ve been able to identify and eliminate customer dissatisfaction. So, understand the drivers of dissatisfaction, and eliminate or fix ‘em.
7. Empathize with Customers
Put another way, this means showing your customers you actually care, understanding them well beyond basic segmentation to support their emotional wants and needs through attitudes, actions, and words.
8. Empower your Employees
Bottom line is pretty simple – happier employees really do mean happier customers. Empower them with the authority and the tools to improve customer experience, and watch employee (and customer) engagement soar.
9. Focus on the Experiences That Matter Most to Customers
Across the typical end-to-end customer journey, your customers have multiple interactions and experiences. By focusing on improving those that matter MOST to your customers (by determining the degree to which they drive dissatisfaction or loyalty), you can prioritize spend and better allocate resources.
10. Know Your Customers Top Issues
Gathering information from multiple sources (surveys, employees, social, call center, etc.), you can determine the top issues your customers have. Make your own “One List” with the top 10, and take active steps to resolve them.
11. Help Customers Achieve Their Goals
Many companies push their products, services and agendas on their customers. Don’t. You need to fit what you offer to their needs, and create experiences and offerings that align with the goals they’re trying to accomplish.
12. If You Screw Up, Apologize – and Mean It
Hey, everyone makes mistakes. After all, companies are people too. And of course, customers get annoyed – but it’s rare that a sincere apology can’t placate even the most upset. Provided, of course, you back that apology up with action, and resolve the issue.
13. Listen to your Customers
Voice-of-the-Customer (VoC) tools include relationship and transactional surveys, advisory boards, user experience research and more. Integrate and analyze to see where you can have the greatest impacts on customer experience and business results, and take action on what you learn.
14. Listen to your Employees
Unsurprisingly, the connections between employee engagement and customer experience are solid. That’s why listening to employees as well as customers helps identify opportunities to improve customer experience, as well as providing insights into employee engagement (See #8).
15. Make your customers feel valued
A focus on customer value is something most companies do. But a focus on making customers feel valued isn’t. It should be. When customers believe their relationship with you matters, and that you recognize the contributions they make, loyalty and engagement follow.
16. Embrace “Small Data”
Big Data is big news. Small Data, on the other hand, is more about making use of things like the survey and transactional data you almost certainly collect already–and making decisions based on what you find out. And the vast majority of companies have yet to leverage it.
17. Measurement isn’t About “The Number”
Many businesses want to set a single, global metric. Very commonly NPS, CSAT or similar, the question these numbers don’t answer is the most important of all – now that you know where you’re at, how do you drive improvement? By understanding what drives loyalty, engagement or purchase behaviors, you can tie your efforts to the business metrics that matter most of all.
18. Personalize Interactions Across Channels and Touchpoints
We’re talking not just about 1 to 1, but beyond – to a world in which you can better serve your members by giving them exactly what they want and need, when and how they want it. Through a deep understanding of “each” rather than just “all” customers, you provide unique benefits your competition cannot match.
19. Respond Quickly
Every customer desires swift action, regardless of the situation. The speed with which you reply to an issue or inquiry is a perceptual indicator of how much you care. Something as simple as a quick acknowledgment that someone’s begun the process of resolving their issue might be all it takes.
20. Share Best Practices Across Internal Groups and Silos
Identifying, codifying and sharing best practices is a huge contributor to rapidly improving performance. By identifying how others overcome challenges, and sharing these insights across your organization, you make it easier to remove the barriers that inevitably exist.
21. Simplify Customer (in Fact, All) Experiences
Making your experiences, communications, products and services easier to understand not only reduces problems and increases the likelihood of customers meeting their goals, it also benefits the bottom line. The perspective of “simplification” can (and should) also be applied to the internal processes and systems that support experience.
22. Educate Your Customers
Helping customers better your understand products and services transforms buyers into promoters, as well as helping them get immediate (and often greater) value from their interactions.
23. Think Multi-Channel, but Nail Mobile First
Your “smart customers” increasingly demand anytime, anywhere access across channels, journeys and devices. Don’t lose sight of this overall cross/multi/omni-channel goal – but recognize that, even more than desktop, smart phones are how customers primarily engage.