From Journeys to Experiences. It doesn’t feel so long ago that everyone was talking about buyers’ journeys. While the concept served to introduce many companies to the notion that their customers were on a journey and don’t just appear out of thin air, it still ultimately felt transactional. Consisting of a linear process that maps out the steps a buyer goes through in the process of purchasing a product, a buyers’ journey is made up of pre-defined steps. However, collectively, all the interactions the customer has with your brand during this journey, at each step, makes up their customer experience.
Increasingly, companies are acknowledging that it is a customer’s experience with your brand or company that leaves a lasting impression, either good or bad.
Recognising the power and value that lies in creating an exceptional customer experience starts with understanding that it is about personalisation. Great client experiences are not one size fits all, in addition, as we keep raising the bar, clients’ expectations keep climbing too. This is true for B2Cs and for B2Bs where it is about adding value to their businesses, in an environment where influencers often have different needs and expectations.
The Symbiosis Between Your Customers and Staff
A true understanding of customer experience lies in appreciating that both your employees and clients are symbiotic, and essential, to the success of your business. You cannot have one without the other, they are both important. Client satisfaction and employee experience track on similar sentiments – if staff are happy and engaged at work, it has a direct impact on your client satisfaction index. Nathalie Schooling, CEO of nlighten, explains: “Our data has shown that in terms of client retention, cross sell and upsell – if there is a focus on client feedback and dedicated action to improve or innovate product/service, then businesses can look forward to between a 10-20% improvement in sales.”
Internally, providing clients with exceptional experiences that will keep them coming back, starts with your hiring process. In the long run, this will have a direct impact on customer acquisition, retention and ultimately will improve your bottom line.
An Operational Map for Delivering Exceptional Client Experiences
Practically, what does this look like? At executive level, leaders need to ensure that their daily interactions with staff are consistent with how they would expect their staff to interact with customers. Executives should set the standard for positivity and for going beyond the call of duty to help customers. Sir Richard Branson of the Virgin Group is a good example of this. For marketers, who have daily contact with customers, it means picking up on the little details, like responding to questions that arise on unconventional channels like social media, all adding to the micro-moments that make up the customer’s experience. On an admin side, accounts receivable has a substantial amount of client interaction on a regular basis, discussing payments or sending and following up on invoices. Rather than dealing with the customer transactionally, a little bit of patience can go a long way. Similarly, human resources have an important role to play in providing exceptional customer experiences. The HR department is going to hire the person whom the company is going to entrust with taking care of clients, so it is imperative that new recruits be a comfortable cultural fit for the business. Good characteristics to look for when hiring includes; initiative and motivation, patience and flexibility, optimism and problem-solving skills.
It’s All About Functional Integration
While it’s a good start, increased awareness and individual commitment to providing exceptional customer experiences is not enough. You also need all functional groups and systems to align, supporting each other in customer experience efforts, sharing knowledge with each other, living and breathing a consistent brand message in ways that are meaningful to your customer. A memorable customer experience should be a strategic imperative fully interwoven in your businesses DNA and become who you are, not just what you strive for.
View the previous nlighten article by Nathalie Schooling: Pride comes before the fall
nlighten. enhancing customer experience: www.nlighten.co.za