Do you agree, your customers are the lifeblood of your business? I believe it is imperative for the success of your business, that you put the customer at the heart of all your keep decision-making.
You’re probably in the middle of the budgeting exercise now anyway, but what should you know when it comes to your 2016 customer experience (CX) priorities?
Your market is increasingly competitive. Your customers are more demanding than ever before. Perhaps you are struggling to secure those orders. Or maybe the phone is ringing for all the wrong reasons?
I have found customer experience remains your best chance of differentiating your company from everybody else out there.
You know that it costs you many times more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep those that you already have. So why aren’t you doing more to keep them happy?
Surely you want to be in place where customers are your advocates and your raving fans? Like that, they are the ones who sell your products to their friends and family. And you can spend your marketing budget differently.
You’ve heard all this before, right? Well here’s the thing. If you have heard it all before, it’s probably because the message still hasn’t hit home.
There are many businesses that still struggle to put the customer at the centre of everything they do. It is hard to please everybody. In fact you can’t.
However, for every day that passes, so the chances grow that your competitors will take the action that you keep threatening to. And they will be the ones to reap the rewards.
So here are my top three predictions for customer experience in 2016:
1) CX: Two steps forward, one step back
For 15 or 20 years now, we have been told that CRM and latterly customer experience, are really important to business.
Many business have indeed pumped lots of money into new systems and process redesign. However, everyone has been doing the same thing. That means the gap between different companies is smaller than you think. And therefore, it appears that nothing has changed.
In many businesses budgets are tight. So if you are trying to improve customer experience, there isn’t that much chance that in 2016 you are going to get a lot more money to play with.
So what CAN you do that doesn’t cost the earth? How can you make a difference? It need not be that hard.
Clear communication and consistent delivery across teams and channels is what matters most. You would be surprised just how important those things are.
As a client or a customer looking at your business, what will change? What will they see that is different to how you worked and operated in 2015?
Sadly, I think most customer experience we’ll stay fairly static. I don’t think there will be much in the way of radical change to the way that businesses operate. There is very little awe-inspiring innovation in the field right now.
Or is there? Perhaps you can prove me wrong. I would love to hear from you.
I understand that you have a business to run. However, your customer has become evermore fickle with his wallet. He is more ready than ever to shop around. I say he, but it could just as well ‘she’. Indeed in many homes, it is ‘she’ who makes the buying decisions anyway, right?
It is important to sell to people on their emotions and what they want whilst giving them what they actually need. Tapping into the emotional side of customer experiences never been more important.
Customer experience does improve year-on-year. But at a snails pace. I would love to be able to shine a light on businesses that truly excel at customer experience.
We are all used to hearing the stories about Disney, John Lewis partnership, Metro Bank, First Direct, etc.
But what about younger businesses? What about companies whom you have interacted with a whilst on your travels? Maybe we can shine a light on the small and medium businesses that catch our attention. Perhaps that way, we can encourage more decision makers in big business to take note.
Action: Can you help me? Can you share inspirational stories with us about outstanding experiences that you had? How did it make you FEEL? Let’s spread the word and give them some recognition.
2) Social media to overtake email as an enquiry and complaint channel
Let me ask you this. How many times have you reached out to an organisation via social media? have you perhaps felt like complaining and lost your patience sitting in a phone queue?
Maybe, like me, you have contacted a business you want to buy from to ask them whether they are willing to give you some kind of discount?
Over the last few years, the businesses I work with have seen a surprising increase in the volume of customer service interactions taking place on social media.
In some recent research amongst 100 contact centre leaders, it was revealed that many believe social will overtake email in 2016 as the second most popular channel of communication for consumers.
My view is that more complaints will be initiated through social media than through email. There is a certain immediacy that comes with social media channels that lends weight to this point of view.
Firing off an email, I have no idea whatsoever when I will hear back from the organisation. But I feel empowered if I am on social media. Even though my message might only be visible to people for a matter of seconds or minutes, I still feel I have more control and impact using social media.
Many general enquiries will be generated through social media as well. Of course this means the teams responsible for supporting these channels will have to grow too.
That need not be so scary. One person can indeed handle multiple social media conversations at the same time. Whilst you can only hold one conversation over the phone at a time, most people can certainly juggle a handful of chat, Facebook and Twitter conversations at the same time.
Plenty of businesses have now got used to the fact, that to handle complaints initiated on social media, the best approach is to take those enquiries off-line to traditional channels like the phone or email.
On the other end, most people are happy when this happens. As a consumer I feel I’ve got your attention. I know I’m now in contact with a person, and I believe that you are actually listening and that you are going to take me seriously. There’s a fair chance you’re going to do something about the issue that I want to discuss.
Action: In 2016, if you do not already have the team looking after social media presence and interactions, then I recommend you put one in place. If you do already have a team, then make sure they have the tools to do the job. Their communication channels are only going to become more important to your business. And customers expect a swifter turnaround on their enquiries or complaints.
3) Consumers tire of endless surveys
And how many survey invitations have you received in the past month or six weeks? I wager you have received dozensasking you to take part in some kind of customer feedback exercises.
Perhaps you been asked to fill in an email survey. Or maybe it was an SMS survey after you spoke to somebody in a Call Center. More likely than not the last website you visited gave you a pop-up asking you whether you had a few moments to fill in survey.
Either way more and more businesses are looking to take customer feedback on board.
However, asking for feedback and doing something with it are two completely different things. Do you already have customer feedback mechanism in place? Do you know what your customers think of your business? How do you find out today?
I really would be keen to learn your experiences are like. Do you meet customers face-to-face? Or do you send them surveys via email or SMS? And what about your staff? Do you survey them?
More importantly, what do you do with this information? You see there are lots and lots of questions here. But the point is, feedback is only as good is what you do with it.
Looking at thousands of survey responses over the years, I have been struck by the fact that poor communication and inconsistent customer experience between teams and across channels lie at the heart of most negative comment.
People have been telling organisations for many years what is wrong. With the ever increasing demand from top managers and execs to find out what the voice of the customer’s, so consumers have been bombarded with more and more surveys.
And you see, we are starting to see people are getting sick and tired of all the surveys. Some call this survey fatigue. For the organisation trying to secure that feedback, they are disappointed by low response rate. But for the consumer, they are disappointed by the lack of action taken when they sacrificed personal time to give feedback.
In 2016, I think that organisations who solicit customer feedback, are going to have to prove that they do something with it.
Action: Do you have a customer feedback plan? What do you do with the information? Perhaps you can communicate more openly how the information is used. Let’s hope so!
Finally, if you like this article, please share it. Let us make the world a better place for our clients and customers by showing we care, that we are listening and above all that we are doing something with their feedback.