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We know today’s customers are more demanding than ever. They know what a good customer experience (CX) is, and they expect it from everyone they do business with. They no longer compare you only to your direct competitor, they compare you to the best service and experience they have ever had – from anyone or any company. So, how do you create an unforgettable customer experience … an experience that makes customers want to do business with you and nobody else?
It’s not one “thing.” It’s many little actionable ideas that might seem like common sense. Unfortunately, they aren’t always so common. Here are 10 ways you can create an unforgettable customer experience.
We’re in the digital era of online experiences, chatbots, artificial intelligence (AI), and more. Companies are intrigued by these technologies, in some cases to the point of overusing them. They’re meant to create better experiences for our customers, but sometimes are being relied upon too much. There must be a balance between the digital and human experiences. There must be a human backup, or you risk losing the connection to the customer when they need you most.
One person can represent your entire brand – your company, all of the other employees and the reputation of the business. People don’t just do business with a company. They do business with the people who work for a company. When customers walk away they may say, “I love doing business with them.” It’s not really them. What they actually mean is he or she – one person. I refer to this as the Awesome Responsibility, where at any given time, one of us will represent all of us.
This is an old saying, and what it really means is to exceed your customers’ expectations. It doesn’t always have to be big. It could be how fast you return a phone call or an email, which causes your customer to comment, “Wow, that was fast!” Create an expectation, one that your customers will accept, and then exceed it, even if just by a little.
First impressions aren’t always the first time you meet someone. It might be the 500th time you interact with someone, but the initial impression sets a tone. It’s how you greet someone, how you smile at them, how you answer the phone, how your website looks and functions, and more. This may all seem very basic, but that first impression is so important. It sets the tone for whatever interaction is to follow.
Here’s a powerful way to take your customer service experience to the next level: Be convenient. In other words, reduce friction, be easy to do business with, and be accessible. How easy are you to do business with? What friction exists in the process customers have to go through to do business with you—online or offline? All things being equal, a customer will choose the company that is easiest to do business with. That’s how powerhouse companies, like Uber, are disrupting entire industries. Ask yourself, “What can we do to be more convenient for our customers?” Or, “What friction can we eliminate to make doing business with us easier?” Convenience is a powerful CX strategy!
Reflecting back on No. 1 above, the idea of finding balance between digital and human support was to not lose sight of the importance of the human interaction, especially when a customer needs help. Yet, there can be times when it’s best to move from a human interaction to digital. I once needed help installing a software program and called to talk to someone in the support center. The agent said he would be happy to walk me through the process, but he had a better idea. He asked if he could email me a link to a video that would take me step-by-step through the process. This was a brilliant idea. Not only did he give me exactly what I needed, he freed himself up to focus on other customers. Sometimes human support needs a digital backup.
Knowledge is power and can build credibility and trust. Customers expect to get the information they need, whether it be on a website or with a salesperson or customer support rep. Smart companies are loading up their websites, chatbots, and YouTube channels with immediate answers to all of their customers’ questions. They’re also staffing their support centers with knowledgeable reps who can answer questions and deliver the support the customers need. Customers want and expect to get answers to their questions, whether it’s through a digital resource or a person in a support center. Anything less erodes trust and confidence.
This is one of my favorite concepts. It’s about empowering people to take care of their customers. One of my favorite examples of this happened when my wife and I were on vacation with another couple. We went to the hotel restaurant and all of the available tables were set for two people. We asked the server if we could push two tables together. She had to get permission to do so. Really? She couldn’t make that decision on her own? Of course, the manager approved the request. Empower people to say yes. Train them in what they can and cannot do. If they can’t come up with a way to say yes to the customer, only then should they seek the support of the manager.
At some point, a customer is going to have a complaint. But complaints can be used to your advantage—they’re an opportunity to prove the customer made the right decision to do business with you. The goal is not to just fix the problem. It’s to restore confidence. Here’s a five-step process to help you do just that:
No matter how good we may think our reputation is for amazing service and unforgettable customer experiences, we’re only as good as our last customer. Each and every interaction we have with another customer is an opportunity to start over.
Any one of these 10 ideas will help you create a better experience. But, combining any number of them, if not all of them, will help you create an unforgettable experience.
This content was originally published at SmarterCX by Oracle. It has been adapted for the Customer Experience blog.