Customer experience is the view customers have of your business, both during and after their initial buying journey. This view is influenced by the product or service itself, as well as your customer service team. But your opportunities in customer experience don’t start and end there. Marketing, customer retention strategies, and your reliability are also part of the overall customer experience.
What is a good customer experience? At Alignmint we call it “heart and smart.” The customer’s emotional experience of your business—feeling valued, welcomed, and supported—is the heart that forms the foundation of brand loyalty. But without repeatable processes to achieve intentional consistency for each customer, every new client is rolling the dice on whether they will have the same great experience as the one before. That’s where you have to get smart.
Let’s explore the customer experience principles that can help you get your heart in the right place, as well as the management strategies and examples that inform the development of smart customer experience processes.
Customer Experience Principles
The four basic customer experience principles all relate to how you make the customer feel. Your prospects and leads may not immediately see how your products or services differ from the competition, meaning the experience you provide and emotions you evoke are the way to stand out. According to a Gartner survey more than two-thirds of companies now believe they compete primarily based on customer experience.
Here are four customer experience principles to help you form the starting block for a customer experience strategy:
- Know Your Customer: This principle has to go beyond generic personas to be relevant in the modern age. Customer expectations of products and services are changing every day. This means companies must regularly take proactive steps to listen to customers. This could start with surveys and self-reporting from clients themselves, and expand out to social media and other research. Follow the news, monitor your competitors, and most of all, react to what you learn.
- Personalize Customer Experience: Personalization goes way beyond putting the right name at the top of a marketing email. Tracking a prospect’s behavior across interactions with your brand allows you to understand product usage and make informed future recommendations for upgrades or additional services. This principle might lead to improvements in revenue, but its intention is to make the customer feel appreciated and understood.
- Unify Cross-Channel Approaches: The effort to present a unified front starts with marketing, ensuring your brand presence is consistent across social media, email, print, and other channels. But you must also engage every department in this effort. If sales and marketing are pushing two different sets of values, while customer support isn’t aligned with either in practice , this will add up to a problem. Every department must work together to co-create the best possible customer experience.
- Authentic Real-Time Responses: When customers reach out to speak with you, this is a great opportunity, even if they are unhappy about something. These interactions are a chance to listen to what is going right and wrong, and your responses are a chance to reinforce customer loyalty or win it back. Across departments and unique circumstances, it’s important to stay focused on the emotional experience you want the customer to have, and the practical steps that will make it happen.
What is Customer Experience Management?
Customer experience management is what makes a great customer experience. These are the processes a company establishes to put customer experience principles into practice. This includes customer journey management, minimizing the efforts customers must make across channels to get the service, products, or information they need.
However, customer experience management is not just reactionary. This is also about delivering personalized experiences that meet or even go above and beyond customer expectations. A lot of this approach relies on data collection and application. What if you could offer a customer maintenance before they know they need it? Or host a timely webinar to help them understand general data protection regulation (GDPR)? These are examples of proactive, repeatable customer experience management processes that can manifest once every department is on the same page across your organization.
Examples of Good Customer Service Situations
We’ve talked in an abstract way about the principles and processes of customer experience. Now, let’s put this into perspective with some practical examples.
- Show Your Customers Shared Values: In 2021 Krispy Kreme made headlines by offering a free donut a day to any individual who gets the COVID-19 vaccine, but this isn’t the first time the company has given away donuts. In the past they have rewarded everything from impressive report cards to customer birthdays. By consistently reinforcing that customers deserve to be celebrated for all sorts of reasons, Krispy Kreme shows the customers they are more important than the product.
- Innovate Personalized Solutions: SaaS company FA Solutions wanted to go beyond cold-calling and use the chance of a conversation to make a great first impression, not burden the prospect with the need for fact-finding. They turned to Leadfeeder to get more insights about the people visiting their website, and used those insights to tailor personalized early pitches that have since eliminated the need for cold-calling.
- Eliminate Silos: JetBlue went above and beyond to connect its Twitter feed to a real-life outcome for a passenger. When someone Tweeted about missing out on Starbucks because they had to rush to the gate, the customer service team notified the flight crew, who were able to get the passenger his caffeine fix before departure.
- Proactively Address Service Issues: When Amazon Web Services experienced an outage, Adobe knew this meant some of its services would also be down or experience issues. Before customers had a chance to start panicking, Adobe posted to social media about the pending issues. They knew this would be frustrating and they couldn’t offer a solution, so instead they added a video of puppies to bring humor to the situation and diffuse tensions. This not only answered customer concerns in advance but created a hub for users to share advice and vent.
It’s no accident that these customer service guiding principles align with the customer experience principles we covered earlier. Whether it’s proactive or reactive, excellent technical support and customer service are foundational to customer experience.
Get Support Developing Customer Experience Processes
Alignmint Growth Strategies are consultants who work with executive teams to create organizational unity on customer experience from the top down. As a third party, we undertake the fact-finding and listening that lead to both operational efficiencies and higher customer retention rates.
We have learned that every aspect of business improves the customer experience when it is approached with an intentional mindset. From addressing trust and loyalty blockers in employees, to translating customer empathy into action, we are here to help your business grow exponentially and crowd out the competition.
Let’s talk today!