In the pre-internet era, businesses wielded great power and were able to control the information consumers had access to. Word of mouth only travelled so much.
The advent of internet and consequently the digital age has tipped the scales in favour of consumers. They now have more choices than ever and can access information readily. Thanks to powerful public platforms with unparalleled reach, word-of-mouth travels far, and fast.
Today, there are at least 5 alternatives for any given product/service, if not more. The competition is high. Variance in offerings is decreasing day by day. Customer loyalty is plummeting. In the face of all this, how do you get your target audience to choose your offering and stay loyal to the brand?
“(Being) Different is better than (being) better”
Differentiating your brand is the key to this puzzle, and doing so sustainably is pivotal. Some brands take the route of competing via price – and end up running their business to the ground.
There are many ways to go about it, but we’ll be talking about one that not only allows you to differentiate your brand, but also helps retain customers and turn them into loyal brand advocates – orchestrating joyous customer experiences.
What is Customer Experience (CX)?
Customer Experience or CX is the term used to define the journey a customer has with your brand. It is the sum total of all the interactions that take place between your business and your customers, right from the first time they land on your website to them using your product, and beyond.
Customer Experience: The Key Brand Differentiator
Walker recently released a study that reveals that customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator in 2020, and beyond. Businesses across the globe are increasingly realizing the importance of great customer experiences. To help your business sustain and grow, you need to ensure that your customers have positive experiences with your brand.
The Cost of Negative Customer Experience
One negative customer experience can be more impactful than you’d imagine – It takes 12 positive experiences to negate a bad one. Adding to that, here’s an example of how a single negative customer experience had dire consequences for United Airlines:
In 2009, United Airlines damaged the guitar of a customer and followed that up with questionable customer service. The passenger, a musician, went on to make the infamous “United breaks guitars” music video that went viral and resulted in a 10% reduction in the stock price of United Airlines, causing a loss of $180 million.
Needless to say, improving customer experience should be a top priority for your business in 2020. If your business hasn’t prioritised it yet, now is a good time to start.
7 Ways to Improve your Customer Experience Strategy in 2020
79% of consumers prefer doing business only with brands that care about them. To show your customers that you care, you need to invest time and effort into crafting delightful customer experiences. We’ve come up with a list of seven best practices you can adopt to give your customers’ experiences a boost:
1. Personalise your communication: Personalisation paves the way to happy and loyal customers. Address your customers by their names, and send them personalised messages, emails, and handwritten notes every once in a while.
When you address customers by their names, it signifies that you see them as people instead of just another source of revenue. The extra touch of personalisation helps customers feel more emotionally connected to your business, making a lasting positive impression.
One of the most helpful things you can do is integrate your telephony setup with your help desk and CRM tools. With Exotel’s integrations, your agents get complete information about the customer automatically while making or receiving calls. This allows them to handle the conversation better. It also helps customers see agents as experts and someone who cares & remembers their past communication, forming a positive overall image of your brand.
2. Give your customer service reps some legroom: 73% of customers fall in love with a brand and remain loyal because of friendly customer service reps. While it’s true that resolving customers’ issues as soon as possible takes priority, the way you do it matters just as much.
On top of focusing on numbers and SLAs when it comes to evaluating your customer support department’s performance, add another parameter to the list – quality of the conversations your reps have with your customers. Give your agents the flexibility and the time required to connect meaningfully with customers and increase the quality of your business communication.
3. Allocate a budget for freebies: Allocate a fixed budget every quarter for doing nice things for your customers. It could be waiving their subscription fee for a month, giving them a surprise gift, or helping out customers in need.
When people have unexpected positive experiences with a brand, they tend to share it on social media. Your brand can garner a lot of positive attention this way while adding another loyal brand advocate to your customer base. A win-win.
One of the easiest ways to increase your budget for this is by moving your business communication to the cloud. With Exotel, all the costly and bulky hardware associated with a traditional PBX telephone setup goes out of the picture. What’s left behind is a clutter-free and easy-to-manage communication platform. It allows for a lot more legroom in terms of cost, effort, and time. These resources can then be used to increase your budget for improving customer experience.
4. Enable self-service: Whenever a customer runs into an issue, the first thing they do is turn to Google for solutions. By having ample help documentation and knowledgebase articles, you can empower your customers to troubleshoot issues all by themselves.
When customers do end up calling you, instead of connecting them directly to an agent, you can set up an IVR flow to first understand what their requirements are, and then route them to the corresponding department/team. You can also automate the responses to a few FAQs using IVR.
This is desirable for both parties. It helps you by reducing the number of support queries you receive, and the customer doesn’t have to wait long for an issue fix. Instead, they can resolve the issue instantly.
5. Be active on social media: People are spending more and more time on social media platforms. Communicating via social media has become the new normal, and it is only natural that customers expect businesses to extend their support to these channels as well.
If you haven’t created an account across all major social media platforms, now is a good time to do so. If you already have accounts, you may want to start a “#brand-name” hashtag to keep track of what people are saying about you online. Start being active on these platforms and keep a close watch on them. Getting back to customers promptly with solutions will not only delight your customers, but it will also create a positive image of your brand in front of anyone following the conversation.
6. Make customers’ privacy a priority: Privacy laws are springing up everywhere. Consumers have now become more careful than ever about protecting their personal information. Businesses can ensure customer privacy during calls using Exotel’s number masking feature. This is especially helpful for last-mile delivery use cases.
With businesses scrambling for new ways to make their brand stand out, privacy can be a valuable differentiator. By putting customers’ privacy first, you show them that you care about them and are willing to go the extra mile to keep their data safe.
7. Invest time and resources in improving processes: Optimization is not a nice-to-have anymore. Businesses that aren’t continuously improving processes and optimizing their workflows will be left in the dust by their competition.
One of the best ways to streamline and automate communication is by using IVR. Exotel’s virtual call centre offers a drag-and-drop IVR builder that is easy to create and set up. This helps businesses manage high call volumes with a smaller team. Exotel also offers analytics and insightful reports that allow you to recognise patterns in your business communication. Leveraging this, you can identify opportunities and areas for improvement, making the whole process smoother.
The goal is to nurture and grow a customer base that adores your brand and won’t stop until they’ve spread the word. People and businesses alike can only be successful if they help enough people succeed. To amass a loyal customer base, businesses need to change the way they look at customer experience and recognise that their best bet is in helping their customers achieve their goals via their products/services. The faster you can get started on that path, the better it is for your company.