I’ve been thinking a lot about the customer experience lately. So many interactions in our daily lives seem to have so many extra steps, paperwork and friction that add no value to the experience.
You know those phone systems that make you enter your 16-digit account number and choose from an endless array of options to speak to someone who has no idea what you entered and asks for your account number again. Or how about the online banking transaction that takes 5 days lead time to transfer money from one account to another in the same bank because of a holiday. Are we supposed to believe that the computer has packed up and gone to Grandma’s for the weekend?
These types of experiences are one reason driving the popularity of disruptive new services like Uber. People are not choosing Uber over traditional cabs because Uber uses more efficient routes or has a better safety record (indeed it may be seen as a riskier transaction). However, Uber makes the whole experience of ordering a ride, waiting for the ride, and paying for the ride so much simpler.
Amazon makes the process of finding, comparing and ordering a product painless. You can choose one-click ordering, but even if you don’t the whole process of ordering takes seconds. Recently I had to return an Amazon-purchased phone that was defective. I went online to the order, found a prominent return button, printed a pre-paid shipping label, and received a replacement product before the return even reached them. I was fully expecting to have to hunt for a customer service number, enter a complicated phone system with lots of time on hold, and eventually get the order straightened out. It was like a breath of fresh air.
I don’t ever need to re-enter data they already have. Contrast this with the doctor’s office that requires a copy of the insurance card every time you visit even if it’s only been a few weeks, or the school forms that ask you to fill out address information multiple times for each child even though they already have your address.
The point is, with so much friction in their lives, your customers want a fast, easy, enjoyable experience.
The tools available today have leveled the playing field for small and medium size businesses so now is a great time to investigate how you can use technology, and the use of mobile devices in particular, to give your customers a better experience.
12 Ideas for a Great Customer Experience
Here are a dozen ideas for creating a great customer experience.
- Make appointments easy—if someone schedules a particular time with you, let them see availability and book online
- Get better event attendance—event registration, payment, and ticketing should not be a paper process for your customers
- Offer a more personalized experience—provide related products based on purchase history, deliver targeted marketing campaigns based on specific interests, or create follow-up information related to the customer’s purchase
- Share your knowledge—make educational content accessible on your website and mobile devices
- Use social media for customer service—did you know that almost half of all questions on large company’s Facebook pages remain unanswered for more than 14 days? or that Twitter users expect a reply to a customer service tweet within an hour?
- Tell your story online—you can’t keep your real life and online presence separate any longer
- Get others to tell your story online—get reviews and make it easy for customers to share their experience
- Keep your customers informed and up-to-date—anticipate their questions
- Use tools to collaborate with your customers—are you still faxing, mailing, or emailing documents back and forth?
- Empower your employees with access to your data and process and share that with your customers too—customers are looking for transparency
- Take advantage of email marketing—set up targeted automatic emails (autoresponders) to educate prospects about your products and company
- Help customers find what they are looking for—make sure menus, specials, hours and your phone number are prominent on mobile devices
Use These Customer Experience Principles Today
When it comes to delivering a great customer experience use these three principles
- Personalize the experience
- Make it relevant to the current context
- Make it fast and simple
Companies that deliver on these principles—across any and all devices that a customer uses—are raising the bar for a great customer experience and making those experiences that don’t meet these principles seem unpleasant. Now is the time to take a look at how your customers experience your business. What can you do to improve?