• August 23, 2017

Customers are driving the changes in the marketplace. Yet not all businesses are taking note, preferring to stick to more traditional business models of trying to improve efficiency from within. But what these businesses don’t understand is that customers no longer want to be marketed to, and told what they need. Customers know what they want and they aren’t afraid to make their voices heard either. It’s no longer just about products, services or brands, it’s the whole customer experience that matters.

Everything counts towards the customer experience

The future of business that is customer centric sees an integration of all business functions in all areas of the organization. Customer service can no longer be relegated to the contact centre. Every person in the organization, whether it’s in accounting, dispatch, sales or logistics has an important role to play in the customer experience. It’s the sum of all the parts that matter most and companies that get this right are benefitting on their bottom line.

Case in point is ALDI’s supermarket chain that is consistently taking market share from other more established supermarket brands such as Tesco, Marks & Spencers and Waitrose. Of 245 companies surveyed by the Institute of Customer Service, ALDI’s ranked 7th overall, way above all other supermarket chains including Waitrose who ranked only 13th. Most significantly is that this is a recent change. The year before ALDI’s was ranked 34th while Waitrose achieved a joint 3rd place. Aldi’s approach has been to not only offer competitive pricing, but to make a consistent effort to resolve customer complaints and queries quickly and efficiently. And clearly it’s working, if their ranking is anything to go by.

Why focus on complaint handling?

Studies show that it costs less to retain a customer than to gain a new one and there are two ways to achieve this; firstly to deliver on your promises, be it pricing, service delivery or customer experience. The second way to retain clients is show them how much they are valued by helping to solve their problems when they have a complaint. Interestingly enough, achieving this seems to carry more weight in terms of the customer experience than simply getting it right in the first place. Maybe it’s because delivering on promises is to be expected, there’s nothing special about that. But traditionally complaints carry with them a negative experience. The ability to turn one of these negative experiences into a positive one leaves a lasting impression with customers.

A positive experience is the best PR & Marketing

In traditional marketing models word-of-mouth has always been deemed the most valuable but also the most difficult to control or manage. Today, social media has provided a communication channel with customers where they can share their views and businesses can respond. More importantly it’s on platforms that can be tangibly tracked, monitored and managed. Realising the return on investment gained from positive word-of-mouth on social media, for example, has given traction to the value of customer experience.

Are you delivering on customer touchpoints?

As businesses start to understand the value of customer experience, it’s important that they understand what’s important to customers. Fortunately social media is a great place to start to gather this information. Not only does it provide direct feedback from customers, it also highlights conversations that customers are having with each other about a product. And because metrics are easily available on social media these statistics can contribute to detailed customer experience analytics. Tie this into metrics from the customer contact centre as well as sales and marketing departments and one can compile a fairly detailed picture of customer touchpoints.

Customer satisfaction vs customer experience

While many businesses aim for good customer satisfaction scores, one has to wonder; is it enough? Certainly it’s been proven that having a high level of customer satisfaction is a good foundation for achieving financial success. The problem is that this is a long terms strategy – it takes time. If businesses want to fast track this success then they need to look at achieving more than simple customer satisfaction, and this is where customer experience comes in.

Customer experience is more personal and is a way of not only achieving greater customer loyalty, but also making customers your business advocates. It uses the principle of positive word-of-mouth and turns it into a snowball effect using social media by giving the customer a voice. Because that voice reflects a genuine experience with the business it carries a lot of weight, hence why it is the key to fast-tracking business success. Customers believe other customers far more than they believe marketing messages. So when you make a customer’s experience memorable, it’s your most valuable marketing and business building tool.

Read Ember’s whitepaper “Customer Complaints: Making it better” to find out how intelligence and insights gathered from complaints can be analysed and acted upon to deliver value enhancing change, and how to manage complaints more effectively across the business.