When thinking of the world’s most popular brands, which ones come to mind? In Forbes’ annual list of the World’s Most Valuable Brands, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and (META) Facebook are identified as some of the top-performing companies, with earnings being a key indicator of their success.
But while revenue may be a significant proof point of industry viability, how you approach your customer experience is another metric that gauges the future prosperity of a business. And one that has an equally significant say in how your business fares in the future.
In Aircall’s report, Putting Your Customer First, we found that more than 50% of customers stopped supporting a business after a poor customer experience. This shows just how impactful a negative customer experience can be, undoing potentially years of customer loyalty in a single interaction.
On the flip side, though, a positive customer experience can make a profound impression on people and go a long way to securing brand loyalty in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
Either way, customer experience and going all out to impress your audience is one area you cannot afford to neglect.
To make sure your strategy is as impactful as possible, this Process Street post will cover these five tried-and-tested ways to improve your customer experience below:
- Be responsive to customer needs
- Provide multiple communication channels
- Follow up with your customers
- Value customer insights – good & bad
- Promote customer testimonials
- Perfecting your customer-first strategy
Be responsive to customer needs
Customers want great service experiences when interacting with a company. And when customers have a negative experience, it can be bad for business. But remember that customers have a long memory for both the good and the bad, so it’s worth putting your energy into a positive experience from the get-go.
Harris Interactive shows 89% of consumers started doing business with a brand’s competitor after a poor customer experience. Whilst AE reports one-third of customers do so after just one bad customer experience.
And while damage may be easily done, it’s far harder to undo. As Dimensional Research reports, 39% of customers burned by a bad service experience went on to avoid that brand for two years.
Meanwhile, those that deliver excellent customer service are only solidifying their customer base, with 90% of people saying customer service is important in their choice of brand.
With only a limited number of customers (and time) out there, your company cannot afford to drive people away from your brand. You must deliver an enjoyable customer experience at all times, and reactivity is at the heart of that.
When customers reach out, they most likely need help – and quick. Their query could span anywhere from purchasing your product to being dissatisfied with a service or from looking to upgrade to needing help troubleshooting an issue. But the first statement remains constant.
By reacting quickly and positively to your customers, you are not only reassuring them of your ability to fix the problem but also the value you place on them as a customer.
Responsive and solutions-oriented companies are prompt, clearly understand customer concerns, and are strong communicators. They are also – crucially – great listeners. In your rush to find the solution, don’t forget to first understand the problem. Customers won’t grow frustrated or impatient if they’re feeling listened to and understood.
Put responsiveness at the heart of how you interact with your customers and your chances of customer retention will skyrocket.
Provide multiple communication channels
Phone calls remain a hugely effective communication channel, with different age groups still preferring them as a means of resolving their issues with a company.
But each customer has preferences, and your company must cater to each one. That’s why the most successful brands provide multiple communication channels to accommodate different customer types. In fact, a research report by Hiver shows that multi-channel support has become the norm with almost 60% of teams offering support across three or more channels.
The hard work doesn’t stop by simply having these channels available though. A great customer experience looks different depending on the channel it takes – both because of the altered customer expectation and because of the new ground you’re communicating with them on.
Whether face-to-face, video calls, SMS texting, email, instant messaging, or social media, each channel must work hard to deliver a positive customer experience. It must also ask itself why the customer chose that channel in the first place.
It could be that a proven customer service strategy works brilliantly on social media. That’s not to say it will work well over a video call. Think about how the communication channel you’re using can work hand-in-hand with the experience you want to deliver.
Phone calls, for instance, are favored because of the connection they bring: The conversation between humans. But if your setup is bogged down with disjointed processes and over-complicated tech stacks that make your team only half-present, it won’t deliver the experience your phone-friendly customers expect. That’s why there is a popular demand for VoIP solutions.
Top communication channels
Aircall’s customer research report found that in North America and Europe, the top three contact methods were phone, email, and webchat. Customers found these communication channels yielded the fastest response times and issues were resolved the quickest.
The report also found that the customer’s patience threshold changed according to the channel.
On average, they were:
- 12 minutes for phone calls
- 24 hours for email
- 2 minutes for online chat
Your sales teams need to remain conscious of the channel they are using when responding to their customers to adapt their service, tone, and speed of delivery.
By picking a unique communication channel, your customers are giving you a specific set of credentials for their interaction with you before it’s even underway. Don’t spurn this opportunity and ensure they’re getting what they came for.
Follow up with your customers
If you’ve ever received a survey or an email asking for feedback, then you’re aware of the efforts made by a company to gauge how it’s performing and to identify areas of improvement.
Follow-ups are a chance for you to understand your customers’ expectations and then rise to meet them. And they’re needed more than ever, with The Harris Poll showing that 73% of consumers say brands struggle to meet their expectations.
Customers start to formulate opinions about their experience from the moment they contact you, and it’s crucial to sweep up every one of their insights right across the board to ensure your customer experience is always improving.
The best way to do this is by building yourself an effective follow-up operation. Done properly, it can result in some of the best customer service insights you’re likely to get.
It can also tell your customers you care about their experience, and crucially, that you want to smooth over any bumps in the road they’ve experienced. Microsoft reports that 77% of consumers view a brand more favorably if they proactively invite (and accept) customer feedback.
Tracking customer feedback
So what kind of tools can be deployed to track feedback from customer interactions? We recommend collating a number of customer feedback collection metrics through multiple survey types, including written questionnaires, in-person interviews, phone calls, SMS text, or webchat.
Then once you have this information, remember to bring it into your sales operations so your team can continue to refine their customer interactions. What’s arguably worse than not asking for feedback is asking for it and then failing to take it on board because of ineffective data capture and sharing.
Keep in mind too that research shows that the length of these surveys impacts completion rates. This means that the more questions you have, the lower the average completion rate will be. You might be hungry for information, but never forget that your customers’ time is precious.
|Number of Questions||Average Completion Rate|
|1 to 3||83.34%|
|4 to 7||65.15%|
|9 to 14||56.28%|
Companies collecting the data from survey respondents can make more informed strategic decisions. And three metrics commonly used across customer-focused businesses are Customer Effort Score (CES), Customer Satisfaction (CSAT), and Net Promoter Score (NPS).
When utilizing at least one, if not all three, of these data collection surveys, companies can track trends to inform how they remedy and improve customer relations and experience – benefiting their overall brand health.
Survey data also helps a company stay agile and in the fight against competitors, as more than 70% of people point to customer experience as an important factor in their purchasing decisions. The more your customer experience is tweaked according to insightful feedback, the more you can expect to see a windfall from consistently improved interactions.
Value customer insights – good & bad
Customer experience is linked to product quality and a product that fails to evolve can expect to become outdated very quickly. To ensure your product (not to mention your service and organization) stays relevant and in demand, you must stay nimble and keep pace with a constantly moving world.
Customer reviews are a valuable way to track what people are saying about the service you provide, and the improvements they’d like to see.
Use feedback to drive your product
One way to impress your customers is to take action, and improve your product – proactively and reactively – based on that feedback.
It tells customers they have an active stake in your product, and they will only grow more loyal if they feel the information they are giving you is rewarded. This is the value exchange between customer and company, which Accenture reports two-thirds of customers are willing to engage in.
With 93% of customers reading online reviews before buying a product, customer perceptions matter to the public. And they should matter to you too.
Through this feedback, companies can better identify areas of improvement and hone in on areas to develop their product, such as ease of use, features, durability, reliability, serviceability, and performance.
There will always be negative feedback, of course. But find the silver lining in it and see it as having the inside track on how to improve.
Knowing how to react and interact with negative feedback can serve your company. But don’t just ignore it. According to ReviewTrackers, one in three customers expects businesses to respond to negative reviews in three days or less.
Negative customer feedback is not the final chapter in a customer’s experience with you. By showing you’ve listened, accepted what they had to say, and are taking action to ensure it doesn’t happen again, you can keep customers loyal even when things don’t go as planned the first time around.
Promote customer testimonials
Muhammed Ali said, “It’s not bragging if you can back it up.” And he knew a thing or two about knockout experiences. Companies that want to showcase the strength of their product and their customer experience should incorporate testimonials into their website and their marketing plans.
We have a human tendency to shy away from sharing praise, but for companies looking to grow their customer base, it’s essential to advertise the experience potential customers will have. In a crowded marketplace, it can make all the difference to a consumer sitting on the fence.
Customer testimonials are a convincing advocate of customer experience. They go beyond reviews and elaborate on a customer’s experience, going more in-depth on the positive experience they have had and the value they see in the product. Companies shouldn’t be shy in requesting testimonials from users, as it’s an opportunity to tell their brand story from a customer’s perspective.
Testimonials will impress your audience and can tip the scale for potential customers, as reputation makes up 25% of a brand’s market value.
User testimonials can come in many forms, from case studies to highlighting client logos on your website and sharing video testimonials on social media. Providing a variety of these means that however much time a customer has for their purchase decision, they can find everything they need on your website.
Perfecting your customer-first strategy
By adopting these five ways to improve your customer experience, you can perfect your customer-first strategy.
It all starts with listening to your customers and remaining empathetic toward them at all times. Remember this throughout everything you do, and you can’t go wrong. Done successfully, it can result in customer loyalty, positive brand sentiment, and even an improved product!
Customers want businesses to care, and you should care about what they want. It’s not superfluous to your business success, but integral to it.
How do you show your customers you care? Let us know in the comments!
Emily Gregor (she/her) is the Content Marketing Lead for North America at Aircall, the cloud-based call center and phone system of choice for modern businesses.
Leks Drakos, Ph.D. is a rogue academic with a PhD from the University of Kent (Paris and Canterbury). Research interests include HR, DEIA, contemporary culture, post-apocalyptica, and monster studies. Twitter: @leksikality [he/him]