You may have seen or heard the term "customer experience" floating around a lot lately - and for good reason. In our ever-more-personalized world, where customers expect high touch experiences, businesses big and small need to invest in a seamless customer experience strategy to grow. In fact, "customer experience" is now outranking "customer service" as a key point of focus - Gartner recently published a study with the following finding:
"89% of companies plan to compete primarily on the basis of customer experience by 2016."
With customer experience being a core focus, businesses are generating results on the back of improved customer relationships, with engagement becoming more influential than the traditional one-off communication model of years past. This shift is something businesses of all sizes need to adopt in order to stay relevant with their target audience.
Given that customer experience is now a becoming an essential element, how can your small business effectively manage it when you're interacting with consumers across various channels? This is the real question on small business owners' minds today.
Here are five key elements to consider when seeking to implement a seamless and consistent customer experience across multiple channels.
1. Prioritize Your Customers
Put your customers first. Their needs are what drives your business, so keeping them at the forefront of your customer experience mindset only makes sense.
Consumers easily recognize when a company values its customers. Leave your clients with the best experience: of being known, understood, and where possible, of having a personal connection with an employee. Instilling this sentiment and core belief in your company enables every employee to make decisions with the end-user in mind.
2. Create a Customer Experience Mission Statement
As trite as it may sound, writing down business objectives helps them stick.
Articulate your business's customer experience mission statement and distribute it amongst your employees. Much like prioritizing your customers, having buy-in and alignment around the customer experience provides guidance and a clear path for delivering top quality experiences.
To ensure your customer experience mission statement hits the mark, ensure that it's actionable, measurable, and trainable.
Some key questions to ask when crafting your statement are:
- Are we delivering outstanding value to our customers?
- Are we doing right by our customers?
- Are we making it easy for customers to do business with us?
Using these questions, you can more easily align your business's mission and overall hopes for customer satisfaction. The mission statement provides a business standard for every employee, and reflects what must be delivered to each customer at every point of interaction. This is critically important when your business is operating across multiple channels.
With a concrete mission statement, you can begin to implement thoughtful and on-message strategies for customer experience.
3. Deliver on Promise(s)
Having a mission statement is all well and good, but it needs to be actionable. This is the point where a small business must consider the customer experience objectives and develop tactics for implementation across all channels.
While each channel - from your website to blog to social media to email - has its own best practices, there are inherent pieces of your mission statement that need to be present in each. The exact wording may be slightly different, but the underlying message should be consistent and unwavering. Continually deliver your unique selling proposition to your audience to reinforce what your business is all about.
Every marketing activity should be tied to your brand promise and connected to your target audience. By keeping these two components at the forefront of your messaging, your customers will see a unified effort across your various channels.
4. Be Consistent
Omni-channel customer experience is a complex issue that small businesses must tackle to retain customers and continue to grow, and like all other components of small business, customer experience demands consistency.
As mentioned in the section above, delivering consistent messages across various platforms is the key to customer satisfaction. Facebook promotions look very different from email marketing, however there are ways to create a seamless experience for the user, so the two initiatives appeared linked and cohesive.
Multi-channel marketing requires finesse, and when deploying a specific campaign across numerous channels, your business needs to communicate the key takeaways in a way that meets the customer's needs on that platform.
5. Be Transparent
Customer experience is all about setting expectations and proactively communicating with consumers. To successfully implement a multi-channel customer experience, being transparent with your customers is of the utmost importance.
Clearly state your customer service hours and designated ways to contact your business, such as email addresses and phone numbers, on each platform establish customer expectations.
Another component of transparency is providing timely and personalized responses. Don't have an automatic reply set up when inquiries come through, manage each interaction as if you were speaking with a good friend. Treat them with respect to create a real relationship, even though you're behind a screen.
Lastly, taking accountability for errors and acknowledging them helps with the customer experience. If clients know you will cop to a problem and proactively tell them about a down system or lack of inventory, they'll trust your business. Give your consumers every reason to come back and work with you again. This kind of forthrightness breeds loyalty and credibility, which weigh heavily in crafting a positive customer experience.
Guaranteeing the same experience across all your channels is a foundational component for establishing loyal customers and small business growth. While every channel has its nuances, by keeping these five principles of customer experience top of mind, your small business will stand a greater chance of maximizing its success.
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