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Tag Archive for customer experience

Digital Customer Experience

customer experience

Why are customers willing to pay more for a better experience?

In a recent study called The Disconnected Customer: What digital customer experience leaders teach us about reconnecting with customers” by Capgemini, a significant gap was found between how businesses and consumers perceive the quality of their customer experience.

Of the organizations surveyed, only 3 out of 10 match customer expectations. Research also revealed over 80% of consumers are willing to pay more for a better experience. This holds broadly true across sectors and countries, with around one in ten consumers (9%) actually willing to increase their spending by more than half!

In today’s digital age, regardless of whether we’re buying in-store or online, consumers now have an almost unlimited amount of information at their fingertips in order to make a decision. If you can’t find a review for a particular product or supplier, you’re probably going to immediately question its quality. Third party endorsement from other consumers and industry experts such as Trip Advisor and Amazon are an absolutely essential ingredient in sales conversion.

This wealth of information also helps determine where a customer is going to get the product or service from. If Company A is the cheapest option but Company B offers free delivery, free returns, a 24-hour helpline and a 3-year warranty, it’s fair to say that savvy shoppers are going to opt for the pricier one, especially if they feel it is worth the extra value.

Recently, Capgemini found a distinct correlation between a high quality of service and price and revealed that 4 in 5 people are willing to pay more for a better customer experience.

So why is this?

 

Ultimately, it comes down to the fact we want our voices heard and our loyalty rewarded, and a great customer experience makes us feel like we have achieved this. In most customer experience circumstances it comes down to speed, convenience and low effort required from the customer.

As an organization you need to invest in the digital customer experience. Think about what your customers value and what they care about. What is the connection between you as a brand and your consumer? Internally, the data and touch points need to flow through your organization and allow you to manage and meet the expectations and desires of your customers. What would be your ideal digital customer experience? Determine that and you can reap significant rewards.

 

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How to Deliver Superior Customer Experiences

WOW customer service

First, let’s define customer experience. In essence, customer experience is the customer’s perception of how well you live up to your brand promise. If you fail to meet the expectations you have created, then that brand promise can become your undoing. With the influence of millennials and the power of social media, customers can cause more damage to your brand than ever before.

Most businesses want to create a compelling brand promise… otherwise what’s the point of having a brand? So how do you deliver on that promise? Check out these tips for building a superior customer experiences.

Listen to your Customers

Your customers are talking, tweeting, posting and livestreaming. They’re sending information about themselves and their interests into the world. Use these conversations to make meaningful decisions that improve the customer’s experience.

Active listening is the first step. At Microsoft, their social listening software pulls in about 150 million conversations each year. After cleaning out the irrelevant data, over 5 million conversations are handled personally. Ideas, suggestions and needs from customers are processed and forwarded to development teams, to be turned into product improvements. And once a product has been updated, the company circles back with those customers, letting them know. These customers, in turn, organically advocate on behalf of the brand and market Microsoft products to their networks.

The Knock it Out of the Park Strategy

Some brands simply deliver on their brand promise so spectacularly well that the standard of customer experience can only be admired. This is the “knock it out of the park strategy”. There is no brand that embodies this strategy more than Disney. They simply go further to deliver on their brand promise than almost any other company on the planet. Their guidelines: greet and welcome every guest, make eye contact and smile, seek out guest contact, provide immediate customer recovery, and display appropriate body language and thank everyone. This strategy is the hardest to implement and may be expensive to maintain, but it is the most powerful strategy and brands that adhere to it tend to stand the test of time.

The Over Deliver Strategy

If you promise a customer something and you deliver over what you promised, that is a great customer experience. The emphasis here is going that extra mile to surprise a customer with the quality of your service or product. Take Lidl for example. Lidl is a German-owned discount supermarket chain. Their products are typically sold out of their transport packaging rather than being stacked nicely on shelves. So how does Lidl over deliver? On the quality of their own brands. The competitive pricing and brand quality result in a very positive experience.

The Create the Perception of Over Delivery Strategy

Very similar to the previous strategy, but different because the under promising is more intentional than the over delivering. There is a hint of deviousness about this strategy, but if executed well it can be very effective. The aim is to promise customers less than the company normally expects to deliver so that average performance appears to be over delivering.

The Be as Honest and Transparent as Possible Strategy

This strategy involves telling customers exactly how things are going to go before it happens. By preparing the customer ahead of time, even if they dislike a situation or experience, they aren’t as likely to spread negative feedback because they were informed upfront. This is the purest strategy in the context of managing expectations. Wagamama is a hugely successful Japanese themed casual dining out chain of the UK. When you order your food the server informs you: “Because everything is cooked fresh, your dishes may be delivered to the table separately.” If that were to happen in any other restaurant, you would be fuming. But it becomes okay because Wagamama warns you as soon as you sit down. Transparency can be hugely valuable if used properly, and this is an excellent example.

Conclusion

The key lesson here is that branding and the creation of customer expectation are enormously important. Whichever one of these strategies you choose to employ, your entire organization needs to be geared up to execute on it. It only takes one employee to ruin the experience of dozens of customers and risk getting a whole host of negative reviews.

 

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How Mystery Shopping can Improve the Customer Experience

mystery shopping

We’re all familiar with the term Mystery Shopper. So why don’t more businesses rely on them? Most companies incorporate surveys, ratings and reviews, but actually hiring mystery shoppers can reveal underlying problems affecting the customer experience. Additionally, Video Mystery Shopping is now available at a more affordable rate and is a valuable tool when evaluating the in store customer experience.

Mystery shopping is a strategy used to study the customer experience by actually interacting with a brand and evaluating it from a customer’s viewpoint. While mystery shopping used to be implemented by businesses to monitor employee behavior, it is now used to for numerous factors ranging from how friendly employees are towards guests to how long it takes for customers to be helped. These tactics are beneficial, however, there are many more other contact points to consider.

Think more Mystery Experience, less Mystery Shop

An effective mystery shopping approach needs to encompass the entire range of experiences customers might have, not just at the checkout counter. Why? Because a recent Episerver survey of more than 1,000 consumers found that 92% visited a retail website for the first time for reasons other than to make purchases. Consumers are researching products and services, looking for contact information, and even searching for inspiration.

 

An effective mystery shopping program needs to evaluate a consistent customer experience across all channels and departments, whether shopping in-store, browsing a mobile app or contacting customer service via phone.

 

The Pros and Cons of Technology

 

Rapid advancements in technology enable businesses to improve their customer experience. For example, live chats with actual employees can quickly resolve customer service questions or filter complaints. However, the employee must show empathy and put themselves in the shoes of the customer. Emotion is hard to convey via chat versus having an actual phone conversation and the businesses that thrive will empathize with their customers along every step of the way.

 

Branding, Merchandising and Customer Service Are Becoming More Meaningful

 

Customers want strong impressions from brands, and many are delivering. 44% of businesses offer unconditional free shipping, a factor that customers critically value, while only 2% of brands don’t have any free shipping promotions whatsoever.

Merchandising is also improving, with 86% of brands highlighting products with “what’s new” features, 54% using themed/seasonal promotions, and 22% offering loyalty programs.

Brands are also prioritizing excellent customer service by providing several options for shoppers to reach out. Call centers remain the most efficient way for shoppers to solve problems and ask questions, with an average engagement time of 4.60 minutes. Live chat is available at four out of 10 global brands, and 14% offer customer help through Twitter. Some brands were able to resolve customer concerns on Twitter within minutes.

Customers Want In-Store Tech, But Not All Brands Are Keeping Up

 

In-store technology gives consumers and sales associates a huge realm of flexibility and reach. With tablets, kiosks and other digital screens, associates can quickly check inventory across stores, place orders for delivery, and more.

However, 83% of store-based brands access inventory information through the register, which can be more time consuming for shoppers than using dedicated devices like tablets.

For the handful of stores that use technology (17%), only 40% of those brands used tablets and digital screens in-store.

It’s critical to integrate technology into physical locations to create seamless transitions across channels for customers. Brands that can master both digital and one-on-one interaction will give consumers greater convenience, choice and satisfaction.

 

Some brands are learning the hard way that no matter how much they invest in a better customer experience, a single mishap can have disastrous consequences. With customers more empowered than ever to share their feelings on social media, one negative experience can spark the outrage of thousands online.

 

With stakes as high as they are, no brand can risk the fallout of a poor customer experience strategy. The simple but critical fact is that good customer experience can only come from an intimate understanding of what it’s actually like to be a customer.

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