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Walk the walk: Prioritising the customer experience throughout the entire business

All businesses strive to a deliver great customer experience, and convenience and seamlessness are currently the winning factors for ensuring their engagement with your brand is at its best.

In 2015, Forrester predicted that one-third of companies in the B2C space would compete on the basis of experiences, and change their business structure accordingly. This has certainly been the case for ANZ this year, with the bank altering its bonus scheme to value customer satisfaction measurements over sales targets.

Having customer experience as the focus of the business isn’t just a ‘nice to have’. According to EY, poor customer experience costs Australian businesses $40 billion per year. A great customer experience will impact the bottom line as will a poor one, and therefore this should be a business priority. It’s time to walk the walk. Even one bad customer experience can have an irreversible ripple effect that can bring down a business’ reputation, sales, and staff engagement.

Combat negative feedback by engaging with customers through direct communication and timely responses, and at the same time, invest in preventative measures to reduce instances of negative experiences from occurring in the first place. The best way to do this is to prioritise the customer and their experience throughout the entire business.

Identify pain points and implement insights

Begin by mapping your customer’s sales journey. Google Analytics and CRM systems can be used to identify bottlenecks and drop off points in the journey, and determine where more concentrated effort needs to be designated. This can easily be avoided by knowing where your customers’ pain points are, and what’s limiting them from experiencing positive engagement with the business.

And a sale isn’t the end of the story – customer journey mapping doesn’t stop at purchase; it should extend to the transformation of the customer from a buyer to a supportive brand advocate.

Don’t assume you have to come up with every great idea yourself. The best way to understand what the customer wants and how to improve their experience with your business is to get the feedback directly from them, and allow this to guide improvements.

The Telstra 24×7 app is an example of a new customer experience that completely revolutionised the way processes were managed at the telco, putting the experience back in the hands of the customer.

Identifying a pain point for customers when attempting to extend their phone bill, Telstra provided them with a simple, two-step process they could perform themselves. Instead of waiting in a phone queue to speak to a customer service team, customers now possess the power to instantly extend their bills, manage their usage, and own customer service issues via the app.

Provide the right channels for feedback

According to Sprout Social, more than 80% of customer complaints are ignored on social media, which is extremely concerning given the potential ramifications of a bad experience going viral and negatively impacting others’ perceptions of a brand. Viral posts can accumulate thousands of comments from other customers, rallying behind each other in support.

Responding publicly to negative reviews, taking responsibility, and informing customers of the measures you intend to take to resolve the issue should be completed swiftly to help combat negative sentiments towards your brand. It’s equally important to remember to transition from public to private when engaging in further conversation; going back and forth publicly can do more damage than good.

Avoiding the bad experience in the first place is obviously ideal, but it’s inevitable that bad experiences will occasionally happen. Remember that many people only turn to social as a last resort, out of frustration, but you can prevent much of this by providing them with other avenues to express their feedback directly to you, in a less public manner. That way, you can deal with the problem directly and personally, and avoid going into full damage-control mode.

Disgruntled customers are often vocal – but what about the hundreds of happy customers? Gathering in-depth customer feedback is easy. And you don’t need to implement any expensive technology solutions to do it. Survey Monkey is an easy way to measure customer satisfaction after each interaction, and a net promoter score measures how likely a customer is to recommend your company. This will give you a truer understanding of what your customers think about your brand than relying on social media complaints alone.

Be customer-centric across the entire business

Changing your sales incentives and customer facing schemes, as demonstrated by ANZ, can help prioritise customer service and benefit the overall customer experience.

Setting organisational KPIs that are customer experience-focused is a great way to start. Time taken to contact a new inquiry, to respond to a problem, or to resolve a problem are all measurable, and directly impact your customer service outputs. Existing KPIs might already involve the average handling time and customer churn rate, but in order to be a customer-focused business these KPIs need to be the priority.

Where possible, go beyond the quantitative and into the qualitative too. Ask questions such as ‘how does it make you feel when you interact with our company?’ or ‘do you find it easy to use our products, services and digital channels?’

Businesses of any size should be promoting the importance of customer experience, and having someone directly in charge of this can help foster its success. Appointing a Customer Experience Office (CXO) whose key responsibility is to optimise customer service and customer experience can ensure all teams and departments are talking to each other to prioritise customer experience in their respective fields.

Tackling the gamut of ‘customer experience’, while also working to improve regularity of negative feedback is a big task – it won’t happen overnight. But a great customer experience will help grow your business, and a negative one will shrink it, so the incentives are clear.

Invest today in improving customer experiences and you’ll undoubtedly increase customer satisfaction whilst creating new opportunities to drive revenue in the future.

About the author

Jess McCorkill, Head of Culture & Client Experience at Buzinga App Development, an Australian app development and innovation consultancy.

Jess McCorkill

Jess McCorkill

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