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The Human Side of the Customer Experience

customer experience

In today’s digital world, people are spending more time online as screens become larger, web connections faster, and more people own smartphones. With so many online businesses vying for a customer’s attention, brands need to focus more than ever on making meaningful connections to stand out. Companies that singularly focus on digital tools but do not invest in the customer experience can expect to fall behind.
Forrester Research studies around the Customer Experience Interest shows that making customers feel valued and respected is the number one factor leading to customer loyalty. In the digital realm, that means you remember their names, preferences, and purchase history, and you go the extra mile to offer them something that is relevant and of value. Consumers want to spend their money with companies that demonstrate that they understand and attend to each customer’s individual needs and truly value who they are. We like to call this “humanizing” the customer experience.
Humanizing the Digital Customer Experience
The key to “humanizing the customer experience” is authenticity, and creating a true people-focused core in which all interactions are individual. Adding the human element means focusing on long-term relationships and on true partnerships with customers. Companies need to shift their thinking, and replace the immediate sales goals of the past with proactive interactions that align with the goals that customers have for themselves.

Here are 4 ways you can help your company humanize the customer experience.

1. Listen to your Customers: 
Do all of your customers have the same wants and needs? Do they have the same income, product affinities and communication preferences? Definitely not. According to the customer experience survey, 63% of consumers who would otherwise not want to share personal information are willing to share these details —if they’re dealing with a brand that has given them a good experience. Retailers have to listen with intention, gather feedback and data, analyze it and then incorporate it into a customer experience strategy.
Slack, a popular collaboration and project management tool, retains 6 million-plus daily users. “Our focus is on making Slack a great experience for individuals — our internal advocates, our ambassadors — since they are the ones who often start using the product, then share it with their teams,” says Ali Rayl, Slack VP of Customer Experience. “We respect our users’ opinions; we listen to their feedback and in turn they help shape the product.” Rayl says that incorporating feedback helped propel Slack’s growth. As the company began working with larger organizations, listening to these customers helped Slack leaders realize they needed to offer a custom product, and they were able to build that into their experience, cementing loyalty.
A company that listens to its customers will aim relevant and tailored messages to the individual customer.

2. Get the Basics: Right
Retail basics can prove to be monumental. The fundamentals of a positive retail experience — speed, convenience, consistency and friendliness — are challenging to get right. Touting a shiny new piece of technology or virtual reality dressing rooms is meaningless if a company isn’t getting the basics like delivery, payment and sourcing right.

Nearly 1/4 of early digital adopters — who represent 20% of consumers today — expect same-day delivery of goods. This same group also expects to pay via mobile payment in stores. Analysts estimate that mobile payment will surge more than 16-fold between 2012 and 2020 as consumers adapt to this prevalent technology. Apps that offer mobile payment can boost loyalty and customer spending.

 

3. Become AI-Driven
:Incorporating AI into your customer experience process allows you to have a deeper knowledge of each individual customer that continues to get smarter over time. Feedback from every customer interaction should be fed back into the customer profile. You need a closed-feedback loop to continuously learn from every interaction, which allows you to become smarter about your customers, their needs and their behavior.
Example: You register for a marathon using your credit card. Your bank may provide you with offers from an athletic clothing partner based on knowledge from that registration transaction. Although you’ve never purchased sports clothes from this brand, an AI-driven brand will have some very specific, targeted recommendations for the best apparel you need for the marathon. Offers are made based on your own credit card transaction history but can also take into account what other customers like you have purchased. Your response to the company’s offer will be fed back to optimize the future customer experience.

4. Real-Time Action
: A clear advantage to enhancing customer experience is to act on AI knowledge and feedback in real-time. Every interaction – whether next best offer, alerts etc. – needs to be delivered in a timely manner to ensure impact and results. Customers expect a personalized relationship with your brand and becoming AI-driven not only makes you continuously smarter, it uses the individual customer context to automate many processes. This is important because it means you are instantly ready to respond to and anticipate a customer’s next step.
Let’s revisit the financial industry example: You just called your credit card company’s customer service department due to an unusual charge, and the agent tells you the issue would be resolved within the hour. Ideally, if you were to check the credit card app on your phone, you would be alerted that the issue was resolved. You shouldn’t have to call back the customer service agent for an update. This proves that every customer interaction with the credit card company is tracked in real-time, and the conversation continues with relevancy no matter which touchpoint you engage.
Conclusion
Humanizing the customer experience means connecting with your customer on their multi-device, multi-channel journey, in the digital and physical world and providing a seamless and continuous experience. It’s having an individual-level understanding of every customer, and putting those insights into action. Finding the “sweet spot”, where technology complements the human element of customer experience without creating new frustrations, is how retailers will win loyalty.

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Is NPS outdated and irrelevant?

Net Promoter Score

The Pros and Cons of Net Promoter Score

Companies across the globe continue to recognize that superior customer experiences yield greater business results, resulting in brand loyalty while driving revenue growth. When it comes to market share, losing the Customer Experience (CX) race can be detrimental for a business.

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) has become a common tool to measure the state of an organization’s CX in an effort to improve customer service. It has become a measurement tool that’s widely recognized and increasingly adopted by organizations globally to understand a customer’s sentiment and loyalty towards a brand, as well as whether they are more or less likely to promote the company.

How it Works

The NPS system seeks to measure not just customer satisfaction, but it gauges whether customers like your company so much that they’d tell their friends about it. It asks one question: “How likely is it that you would recommend [Organization X] to a friend or colleague?”

Customers are asked to rate their answers on a 0-10 scale, which is divided up into three categories:
“Detractors,” “Passives,” and “Promoters.”
0 – 6: Detractors
7 – 8: Passives
9-10: Promoters

But can one question really provide enough detailed information to create a CX strategy? Some executives say no.

Let’s take a look at some pros and cons of NPS:

Pro: The NPS system is easy to use

The NPS online poll does not require a statistician to administer it. The example survey question is based around one idea, whether your customers like your company enough to recommend it, and often includes a few follow-up survey questions to understand why people would recommend/would not recommend your brand. You can easily send it out to customers through email or post on your website.

Pro: The NPS is great for management

When management is looking for an easy, big-picture gauge of customer loyalty, the NPS works. Not only do Net Promoter Scores help a company see how it’s doing against the competition, but managers can use it to see how one department’s services are doing against other departments. For example, does the tech service division receive higher scores than the field-service department? If so, how can the company improve so that all of the departments are getting equal, high scores?

Pro: The NPS uses a common language to classify customers

The NPS questionnaire breaks scores down into three customer categories: Promoters, Detractors, and Passives. The categories make it easy to classify a customer’s level of loyalty, and it gives everyone in your company the same language when referring to customers. Do you have a large group of Promoters who you should rally to post reviews or participate in a focus group? Are there Detractors who you need to assign someone to do follow-up work with? The system makes it easy to tell customers apart.

Pro: The NPS system is correlated with increased business growth

Numerous studies, including those conducted by the Harvard Business Review, Satmetrix, and Bain & Company have found a strong correlation between high Net Promoter Scores and revenue. The research shows that when companies adopt the NPS question, and use it as a key metric, it helps drive business growth as the company becomes more focused on improving the score.

Con: NPS is too simplistic

The NPS scale accounts for only three types of customers: ‘promoters’, ‘passives’, and ‘detractors’, and is based on a simple survey question: “On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?” Customers who give an organization a score of 9 or 10 are known as ‘promoters’, while those who provide a score of 6 or under are called ‘detractors’. An organization’s score is calculated by subtracting promoters from detractors, ignoring customers that give a score of 7 or 8, who are known as passives.

Not only is this question simple and vague, it fails to provide any insight or necessary information to interpret the opinion held by customers. It lacks detail and prevents organizations from actioning feedback in real time.

Because it is very difficult to understand a customer’s journey from the inside, organizations need to be investing in measurement tools that enable them to gain an in-depth perspective to really find out where their CX is failing.

Con: Without a plan in place to act on the results, the survey won’t help your business

Sending out a NPS questionnaire is a great first step to understanding customer loyalty, but to really make the NPS system effective, you need to be prepared with a follow-up plan. If your scores come back really low what is your next step? Will you send out more detailed surveys to pinpoint the issues? Make sure you map out a customer experience plan to address any issues your Net Promoter Scores reveal.

Solution: Implement more detailed follow-up questions

Every smart implementation follows up with a qualitative question, asking why? Some systems will even vary the questions based on the score, asking things likes “What did we do well?” and “What could we improve?” The real value is the Why answer. The customer tells you what just happened and how you could improve it. We add these Why questions to gather intuitive data, which allows a more specific game plan for future customer experience  success.

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How Customer Service Affects Your Brand

Poor Service

 

High-quality customer service is essential to growing your brand and setting your company apart from the competition. When a customer has a bad experience, you can be sure their friends, families and colleagues will know about it faster than ever thanks to the internet. Customer service is the human face, or voice, of your brand so make the first interaction a positive one.

Customer service is dangerous to undervalue, because bad experiences can ruin brands, sometimes in irrecoverable ways. So before you cut costs by cutting through the customer service budget, think about these ways that the quality of customer service affects the value of your brand.
1. It’s how you’re remembered.
Customers tend to remember their poor customer service experiences more than their positive ones, meaning a bad image is harder to shift. Ruby Newell-Legner, author of Understanding Customers, asserts that 12 positive experiences are necessary to make up for just one unresolved negative one. So aim to get it right the first time.

2. It’s a statement about your business.
Your customer service reflects on your entire business. People assume that if your customer service is good or bad then your product or service is too. As a business owner, you should adopt the same attitude, devoting time and money to your support team just as you would your product or sales. Lowe’s home improvement store makes sure employees are everywhere and eager to help. More than just pointing customers in the right direction, Lowe’s employees are knowledgeable in all aspects of home improvement and can provide personalized tips for customers. The company has repeatedly won awards for its top customer service and satisfaction.

3. Make it easy on the customer.
If you reduce the effort it takes for customers to get in touch with you, you’re simultaneously making it easier for them to purchase from you. Add contact forms on your site and customer service tools in your app. Provide an FAQ page. Don’t make your phone number impossible to find. Place interaction opportunity directly into their hands and you’ll ultimately guide them from interaction to purchase.

4. It’s a profitable marketing strategy.
Word-of-mouth is the holy grail of marketing. When your customers speak favorably and widely about your business, they are doing more for your brand than any advertising can do. Promote your company’s customer satisfaction standards by using customer testimonials and happiness ratings to show just how much you do for your client base. If you can get customers to sing your praises of their free will, you’ve hit the jackpot.

5. Your competitors are always watching.
Undervaluing customer service is a risky strategy because there’s always a competitor who’s doing the opposite. An American Express survey found that a staggering 78% of consumers have backed out of a transaction or failed to make an intended purchase because of sub-par customer service. If you don’t have the tools in place to make doing business with your business easy, customers will quickly find an alternative.

6. It directly affects retention.
Keeping hold of current customers costs considerably less than attracting new ones. Retention matters—big time. On average, loyal customers are worth up to ten times as much as their first purchase, but that worth won’t pan out unless you prioritize customer success. An experienced client who sticks with you means reduced efforts for you in the long run.

For these reasons, you should consider customer service an important part of your training and budget. It’s a vital part of your branding efforts. Your customer service representatives are the face of your brand that buyers interact with, so they need to be the best!

 

Customer Service

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