Customer engagement is critical to sustaining growth for your business. But what helps engage customers? The answer is consistent positive experiences with your business. Below are seven ways to create more positive experiences for your customers.
- Focus on expectations. What do customers expect of your company? This is partly what you establish and what your customers have experienced elsewhere. If your industry isn’t known for wowing customers, then it shouldn’t be hard to make noticeable improvements. But you may have to overcome skepticism. Conversely, if your competitors have set the bar high, then your organization has to redouble its efforts to impress customers.
There’s a cautionary tale in this true story of a leading global financial services company: The company put together a top-notch multinational team to win a European account that had a more than a 10-year relationship with its incumbent service provider. The team so impressed the prospect during an RFP that the company switched and even bought more services. A year later, the financial services firm moved the servicing of the account to a local office, which was unable to meet the new client’s expectations. Guess what happened? The company lost that client’s business. The moral of the story: Know your customer’s expectations so you can meet or exceed them.
- Engage employees. It might seem counterintuitive to focus on engaging your employees to create a better customer experience, but it’s vital. Your organization needs all your people on board to deliver a better experience. It’s about touchpoints between your business and your customers. Every employee who might in some way touch a customer has the power to influence that customer’s purchase decision.
- Start conversations. Conversations are by definition two-way: they’re about listening and talking, at the appropriate times.
Everybody knows it’s important to listen to your customers. Businesses that listen to their customers — and take note of it – are in a better position to serve those customers. But it’s equally important to listen to employees, who are in the best position to identify what gets in the way of serving your customers. But you don’t want just to listen; you also need to tell your employees and customers what you need them to know. Customers and employees are among your organization’s most important stakeholders, and your messaging must keep them informed. And make sure that your messaging shows that your organization really does listen.
- Be authentic. There’s simply no substitute for the real thing, and when you deliver authenticity, your customers will reward it. It’s hard to keep up an act for very long. It’s much easier and appropriate, frankly, to stay true to what your organization values. There are few better ways to reach a large audience in an authentic way than through live video. Focus on making your communications with employees and customers more authentic, and you’ll reap the benefits of creating a more positive experience.
- Respond. Invest in your employees’ ability to respond to your customers, in any venue. Nobody likes to be placed on hold or forced to wait for long periods. There are legitimate reasons for delays in responding to a customer, of course, but organizations that want to create more positive experiences should do all they can to reduce the waiting. When it does take longer than a customer expects, keep the customer informed. It’s better to say, “We’re working to get back to you as quickly as we can,” than to let a customer’s imagination run wild. “Is anybody there?” “When are they coming back to me?” “How long might this take?” In addition to minimizing the waiting, don’t overlook the value of prompt follow-through. Responsiveness in all customer interactions can be a differentiator for your organization.
- Ensure quality in the delivery. Whether your organization offers advice or manufactures widgets, the quality of what you sell says a lot to your customers. It’s often a trump card for a positive customer experience, because it’s usually why a customer chose your organization in the first place. If a dissatisfied customer says, “At least I got what I wanted,” you might have saved a sale, but that should never be viewed as victory. Focus on quality and consistency in your core offering to keep your customers coming back and advocating for your business.
- Take complaints to heart. We’re conditioned to take criticism personally. Too often, complaints are viewed as big negatives. To stand out from your competition, consider complaints more like a gift in unsightly wrapping paper. When a customer takes the time to complain, he or she is actually trying to tell you how to improve your service.
The measure of people and companies is often best taken during adversity. Even the best-intentioned people and businesses make mistakes. More important than the mistake, however, is how we recover. If your company does a good job of handling complaints, making the customer feel heard and valued, and learns from the incident, then you’ve got a great shot at turning a bad experience into positive future ones.
For more information on how to engage with employees and customers and create better, and more positive experiences, check out these other articles: