Research has found that there’s a strong correlation between customer experience and loyalty. Those businesses that get it right are more likely to retain customers and have those customers recommend the products or services to a friend. According to researchers at Forrester, there’s a very strong relationship between a customer’s positive experience and their willingness to make a purchase from a company again. In a survey, it was also found that customer experience is also directly linked to word of mouth marketing.
Businesses that offer a high level of customer satisfaction will reap the benefits in terms of revenue and reputation. But what makes for a good customer experience? Well, it’s a sum of its parts, which include communications, website UX, staff training and more. Let’s have a look in a little more depth.
Today’s consumer wants to be able to connect with the brands that they use through multiple channels and often, 24/7/365, depending on the business. The key to delivering an excellent customer experience is to give customers what they want, so it’s vital that you open up these channels of communication.
The modern consumer expects to be able to contact your business by:
- Live chat
- Social media
- Review sites
The latter two are of course the least used these days, but they do still have their place – some consumers prefer to write letters just because it’s what they’re used to doing. With this in mind, to some extent the customer experience and how you shape it will depend on the demographics of your audience. This is true with regards to how they contact you and how you address them once they are speaking to a customer service rep. These days, with technology such as unified communications coupled with a good CRM solution, it’s more than achievable to communicate effectively with customers across all of the desired platforms.
However, it’s not enough to have all of these platforms available, they must of course be manned and staffed by reps who have undergone training to understand how consumers use these platforms. For example, research shows that consumers are becoming less patient when it comes to how quickly they expect a reply to an email. It was found in a survey that just 22% of people are happy to wait more than a day for a company to reply to a query made via email - 12% expect a reply within the hour.
The research also found that consumers are more inclined to leave positive feedback on social media.
Derek Eccleston, Commercial Director at eDigitalResearch, said:
"With marketplaces becoming increasingly competitive, great customer service is often the only way to set your brand apart from the rest of the competition. Our benchmark found that customers expect to be able to contact brands through a number of different channels, even if they don't necessarily use them. Consumers increasingly expect to be able to get in touch with a brand, when they want, how they want. Companies need to ensure they provide an adequate forum for customers to voice their ideas, concerns or opinions and proactively act when things do occasionally go wrong".
Separate research from the web-based depot for CRM tech, Software Advise, has also found that consumers use different channels depending on their needs. So for a question about a product, depending on their age, many consumers would prefer to use live chat. However, for financial questions and complaints, people are much more likely to use the phone.
It’s worth considering too that different demographics will be less inclined to use one form of communication over another. For example, in a survey 56% of those aged between 18-34 years preferred to use live chat over phone, whilst in the over-35s, 27% preferred live chat. What this means to customer experience is that it’s essential to know your customer if you’re going to deliver a high quality experience.
Training should also encompass product knowledge and customer service reps should have access to a repository of knowledge containing data sheets with relevant product information on them. The repository should be further augmented with company information and customer data so that employees can rely on it to deliver all of the answers they need when dealing with a customer. This can also be further improved by adding in common questions which are posed by customers and how the rep should respond.
It can be difficult to convey meaning when communicating with people via email or live chat and research has shown that consumers easily find a negative implied where none exists. With this in mind, customer service reps should be trained in how to respond to questions neutrally. It’s also useful to leave out sarcasm and humour when it comes to live chat, email and social media platforms as these are very easily misconstrued.
The knowledge system can also be linked to the website where appropriate to offer a further knowledge bank to customers who like to browse the site for answers.
Join the Discussion
These are just a couple of the things you need to think about when considering customer experience. There’s also the use of analytics to further personalise the experience and get customers coming back time and again. Then there’s the actual experience of using your website and much more.
These are just a few of the topics we covered in our recent guide on customer experience.
It was an interesting and illuminating discussion surrounding the key aspects of customer experience, such as understanding your customers’ journey, the role of your website, personalisation, CX in a multi-channel and multi-device world and much more.
You can access the guide here