What Are You Known For?
This can be a simple question, but it holds so much weight in the success of your company. It determines the type of clients you attract, type of employees who want to work for you, and how you conduct business. Is your business known to be the best in the field, or just alright? Fast or slow? Ahead of time or always late? Quality or economy? Average at many services or exceptional with a few services? Customers treated like VIPs or just a transaction?
Take a moment to think what your business is known for. You may need to ask employees or even customers to get a clear answer. Is it what you would like it to be known for? If it is, great! You’re on the right track; keep doing what you’re doing. If not, continue reading.
BRIDGING THE GAP
Knowing what you’d like the business to be known for is a great start; now we need to work backward to figure out what actions to take to get there.
Take a look at the big picture, what needs to change to start heading in the right direction? Does the quality need to go up? Does efficiency need to improve so that orders are delivered on time? Does the customer’s experience need to be improved so that it aligns with the level of service you strive to provide?
With these questions answered, break it down into actions that need to be taken. Take the customer experience question for example: do you need to create an on-boarding system for new customers, is there a way that your company can take responsibility of problems instead of attempting to avoid/deflect them, etc?
Determine who in your business can implement this, and work with them to do so.
DAILY ACTIONS BUILD A REPUTATION
It will take time to make the change; it is built by consistent daily actions.
Take some time once a year, or even once a quarter to examine what the business stands for and how it is perceived by others. Ask yourself if it is in alinement with what you’d like it to be.
Establishing Your Brand
When it comes to establishing your brand and what it stands for, it is important to know where you want to go before you start putting it out there. For example, are you trying to become the high-end choice for customers, or is your focus speed of delivery? Is the culture a fun and inviting place, or is it best of the best - with professionalism is stressed above all else?
WHAT DO YOU WANT CUSTOMERS TO FEEL WHEN THEY INTERACT?
Are you aiming for them to feel professionalism, comical, lightheartedness, strong passion, or something else about your company? Think about who you are as an owner. What fits best for your personality? Are you a laid back person, or are you all about business and extreme professionalism? After this, take into consideration what type of customer you are trying to attract. What personality type do you want your business to work with? And with this, consider what their tastes typically are. What do they expect when it comes to customer service, follow up, and the overall experience of buying and using your products or services?
WORKING BACKWARDS, WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN?
Now that you know what kind of feeling you want your company to exude, it’s time to work backward to determine what needs to be done to accomplish this. Does your website reflect your goal? What about interactions with customers, articles put out, communications with others about your company, your mission statement? Do they reflect the feeling you’d like them to? Is the tonality in line with what it should be? How could they be changed to make them aligned with your goals?
You know what kind of feeling you would like the company to exude, and have determined what actions need to be taken to achieve this. Now it’s time to execute a make your business aligned with how you’d like it to feel to others.
Exceptional Customer Experience
Creating an experience that wows customers is crucial to your continued success. When they have a great experience, your customers will keep coming back again and again. And if it was remarkable enough, they will bring their friends.
WHAT IS CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE FOR YOUR COMPANY?
When you think about how a customer experiences your company you need to keep these three areas in mind:
Every time a customer comes in contact with the business, what does it look and feel like?
What does the communication between the business and customer feel like?
When a customer takes action, how well do your employees engage with them?
Take the time to look at your company through your ideal customer’s lens. How do interactions go, what does the company look like to outsiders, does the experience with the company feel human - or just transactional, among others. Work backward from the experience you want to deliver.
Below are six things you should take into consideration when building your customer experience.
Attentiveness to details shows that your company cares about their customers. It may be the smallest detail, but customers will notice and appreciate it. This could be well thought out product design or even little things in the customer journey meant to enhance their experience.
Do you recognize the importance of your customers? From the largest to the smallest customers, do they feel as if they are important? Making your customers feel important can be as simple as getting back to them in a timely fashion. Recognizing their problems or issues, and doing your best to solve them.
How do you make the customer’s experience personalized just for them? Where do you go the extra mile to make them feel like a VIP? This can be as simple as using their name in conversation (don’t overdo it), and relating to them on a personal level. The main goal here is to make them feel special.
Does your company take your customer’s time, budget, thoughts into consideration? When working with customers, it is important to empathize with their point of view. When they wait on hold, is that considerate of their time? Probably not in their mind, and it negatively affects their experience. As a company, you should be aware of the customer’s situation, and do your best to be considerate.
Do you show customers how much you appreciate their business? This can go a long way. Many times businesses begin to treat each interaction as if it is transactional. Showing them how much your company cares and appreciates their business builds strong customer loyalty. This does not have to be a big gesture, it could be as simple as a personalized note or a genuine call thanking them.
What ways does your company go out of its way to surprise and delight customers? This doesn’t need to all the time, but think about what your company can do to systematically overdeliver on promises and expectations. This could be providing faster shipping than expected, going beyond the bare necessities when providing a service, or just providing something special that they did not expect.
You must build these experiences into your processes so that they happen regularly; to create consistency. Serving your customer should be of high importance in your business, as it has a massive impact on retention and referrals. Creating an exceptional customer experience goes beyond just fulfilling their need and moving on, the details make all the difference.
IT’S NOT ABOUT WHAT YOU CAN GET OUT OF YOUR CUSTOMER
It’s what can you provide for them.
What value can you add? How can you help them? What can you do to go beyond the call of duty to enhance their experience?
THE DETAILS COUNT
It can be a small little action you take that will have a big impact on your customer’s experience.
Let’s take a hotel for example. You come to the check-in desk and follow the normal routine. But while you’re there, the front desk asks what your favorite snacks and beverages are. You answer, not thinking much of it, and proceed to drop your bags in the room. Then you head out to continue with your evening. When you come back, to your surprise there’s a basket with your favorite drinks and snack, along with a handwritten note from the front desk welcoming you and letting you know how much they appreciate you staying with them. They took the extra step to make you feel more at home and comfortable with your stay.
But here’s the real icing on the cake, you enjoyed your experience last time, so when you come back to the city you stay with them again. This time you check-in and upon arriving in your room you find a basket with the favorites you mentioned last time. This time the note reads, “Hi John, welcome back. We are so pleased to have you with us again”.
Would you stay there every time you came to that city? I know I sure would. You see, it wasn’t a massive gesture, but the small details make the experience that much better. They make you feel welcome and appreciated. This type of attention to details doesn’t just apply to the hospitality industry. I’m sure there is something you can do in your business to make the customer’s experience that much better.
Do everything in your capacity to not treat a customer like a number that is contributing to your bottom line. Personalize the conversations and interactions they have with your company. Interact with them on a human level; in other words, give John or Madison the time needed to make sure they are happy. Treat them like people, not just customer #153750234.
This is where so many businesses go wrong once they reach a certain point. Their focus shifts from serving customers, to just trying to squeeze every last dollar they can. And the customer’s experience with the company reflects that. They can feel that they are just one of hundreds or thousands of customers putting money into the machine. It feels impersonal, cold, and they get the sense that the company only wants their money. If the customer has a choice, they will seek an alternative.
I challenge you to focus on making the customers your number one priority. Let them know how much they mean to the company, and be genuine. Show your appreciation.