To work out exactly what it is that matters to customers, we don’t have to look very far. We are all customers ourselves, and have discovered the things we like about a company and those things that turn us away. Although customers tend to appreciate the same values as they always have: integrity, speed of service, politeness, quality, etc., we are living in an age where large, medium and even small businesses have the tools and technologies to really deliver on those needs, which means customers’ expectations are raised across the board. After all, if company x can provide a fantastic customer experience, what’s stopping company y from doing the same thing?
To help you keep customers happy and loyal, this article highlights five things that always matter to customers – no matter what industry you’re in.
Ease & Convenience
We have busy lives these days, and when we need to purchase products or services, whether it is our weekly bag of groceries or a movie to watch in the evening, the quicker and easier it is to complete the transaction, the happier we will be (providing our other needs are met too). If we have to spend too long on a website, fill in complex forms or wait for ages on hold or in a long line we will definitely consider whether the product or service is worth the effort next time.
Sometimes it’s the little things that make all the difference, like the position of a ‘buy’ button on your payment page or the number of options on a telephone menu.
Have a look at what your competitors and industry leaders are doing and compare their customer journey with yours to make sure your process is as simple and quick as it can be.
Multiple Communication Channels
In the past there was face-to-face communication, the telephone and the snail mail. Then came email and mobile phone technology. Today, there are more ways to communicate with companies than ever before, with live chat, various social media platforms (Twitter tweets, Facebook posts, etc.), blogs, webcasts, podcasts, webinars, videoconferencing and VoIP services such as Skype™ to name just a few. It is not economical to jump on every option available, so make it your mission to find out which communication channels your customers prefer and concentrate on excelling in those areas. Any other channels you can manage will be a bonus.
Humans are social creatures and although we understand, particularly with large companies, that we cannot possibly have a personal relationship with every staff member, we still love it when an employee of the company remembers our name, the details about what products and services we are interested in and what experiences we’ve had in the past. This kind of continuity doesn’t come about by chance, but by organizing our databases and customer records and giving our workforce the training and technology (smart interfaces, well-designed scripts, etc.) to access and use them.
Trained & Equipped CSRs
A company’s overall customer service provision is only as good as its weakest CSR (Customer Service Representative). As your biggest asset, you need to invest generously to employ high quality personnel, train them to a high standard in product knowledge, technical skills and ‘soft’ skills, such as rapport-building, and equip them with the tools and technologies that will let them shine.
The Right Products & Services
It seems obvious, but customers will only buy from you if you offer the products and services they want and need, so finding this out should be your number one priority. There are many methods successful companies use to keep on top of this challenge such as surveys, questionnaires, online feedback, point-of-sale interviews, focus groups, etc. The best companies of all can actually anticipate, and sometimes shape, customers’ future needs.