Exceptional customer experience is the ‘new sheriff in town’. Increasing your client base is exciting, but keeping clients coming back year after year is the real barometer for long term success. Savvy business owners are waking up to the concept that exceptional customer experience is not just a necessary evil or an economic drain. It’s now considered essential for increasing profit margins.
Outstanding customer experience increases sales
Companies that are focused upon client retention fare better than those who do not. In fact, new data from Forrester shows that even a 10 percent improvement in a company’s customer experience score can translate into millions of dollars for increased revenue. Conversely, poor customer-service experiences are devastating for revenue. In fact, current data also shows that, on average, almost 30 percent of customers have poor experiences and are likely to turn to another vendor. We’ve found that the accounts payable department can really struggle in this area. Finding a way to improve collections while reducing conflict makes a huge difference in the companies bottom line as well as the positive impact of the brand. (See a consultative approach that has increased collections by as much as 60% while reducing conflict and increasing client loyalty.)
Meeting customer expectations in the new decade means shifting from being “customer focused” to “customer committed.” From ” Customers 2020″ Walker report
Cutting edge customer service technology is complex and expensive. This includes a plethora of systems involving communication channels, software, deployment methods and vendors. Many of these are cost prohibitive to the small business owner. So how does the sole-preneur or fledgling company become more effective in the area of customer experience and compete with large corporations? Here are 7 strategies for improving customer experience and becoming ‘customer committed’.
1. Time is of the essence
Customers demand quick, reliable service. They also deserve quality service from each interaction, delivered in a timely fashion, over every channel they use to connect with your company. They expect to have situations resolved in 24 hours or less. Make sure your on-line service via email, chat or blog is as expedient and reliable.
2. Social media is not the total answer
We have experienced business owners resorting to canceling appointments via text or FB/LI messaging with devastating results. Not only are they risking their client missing the message, but this practice shows a total lack of respect for the others time. I wonder how many sales have been lost due to this practice.
Texting, Facebook messages, chat boxes, and email provide speed and convenience to client interaction. Unfortunately, they are often much less effective for building rapport and closing business than live telephone contacting or face to face interaction. In addition, People want to purchase from people. Live phone call interaction plays a large roll in building client confidence and loyalty. Most importantly, the written word is more likely to create misunderstandings than a live phone call. An ‘old fashioned’ phone call is also an inexpensive alternative to more expensive software solutions.
For more information on how to build rapport and develop loyal, repeat clients download this free resource, “The 3 Keys for Building Rapport”.
3. Return phone calls
If you are unavailable to take the call, show your customer the common respect to return the call personally. I think some small business owners believe that their personal inaccessibility gives customers the impression they are big time. Customers interviewed said they were four times more likely to purchase from and refer a company who returned their phone calls. In addition, they were more likely to find a new vendor from those who did not.
4. Under promise and over deliver
Only promise things you can deliver. Reliability is key and if you let a customer down they will not come back. Broken promises can be hugely damaging to customer relationships. Most importantly, it leads to mistrust and client attrition. Focus on delighting your clients by delivering service above and beyond their expectations.
5. Listen more than you talk
In most conversations people are just waiting their turn to talk. However, if you want someone to hear you, you must listen and make them feel understood first. Let customers talk and listen to what they have to say. Whether they have an idea for a new product or improved service, are asking a technical question or making a complaint; pay attention. Then act on what they have told you.
Because words can so often get in the way, silence can help you make connections. Peter Bregman
6. MAN UP and deal with it
Never ignore a problem or place blame for the situation on the client. We recently dealt with a vendor who did not deliver what was originally promised. Their response was to blame us. Once we proved that the issue was squarely their responsibility, they attempted to brush it aside. Had they dealt with the issue transparently, they would have saved the business relationship. “You can’t please all the people all the time” is not a good business mantra. However trivial it may seem to you, the issue is important to the customer, so deal with it accordingly.
7. Employ regular training for your staff in communication skills and human behavior
An in depth knowledge of human behavior will empower your staff will to deliver a great customer experience. Hold regular refresher sessions. Give your staff the information, skills and responsibility they need to offer a great customer experience.
Joe Pici is ranked in the TOP 30 sales trainers internationally by Global Gurus. Pici & Pici specializes in sales and customer service training.
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