Originally posted on Forbes.com on June 29th, 2020.
One of the key lessons of marketing in the last decade is that customers value their experience with businesses. Customer experience has become such a significant factor in business interactions that avoiding it leads to lower customer retention.
The most effective way to keep buyers coming back is to give them a customer experience they aren’t likely to forget. How can a company seek to improve its customer-facing procedures? These 12 experts from Forbes Agency Council chime in on a few changes that a company can implement to create an unforgettable customer experience for their consumers.
1. Personalize At Scale
Consumer expectations keep rising. On top of wanting brands to be available 24/7 across their platforms of preference, consumers expect to be treated as real people, not mere ticket numbers. Not long ago, personalization at scale might have sounded like a lofty goal, but with the rise of artificial intelligence and automation, brands can now scale their teams overnight to provide an always-on, white-glove service. – Etienne Mérineau, Heyday.ai
2. Be Your Brand Evangelist
Brand experience starts with your front-line staff. Be your brand evangelist and lead by example. Reward behaviors that build your brand and constantly promote the importance of being brand-aware. Above all, be authentic with your staff and your customers. Give staff the freedom to use common sense and do what is right for the customer. – Jason Wilson, Strategy, LLC
3. Let Your Customers Be Your Guide
Let your customers be your guide. Customers are on the front line with your product. By taking the time to ask for and listen to customer feedback, both positive and negative, you’ll gain valuable insights to continuously improve CX. And more importantly, you’ll strengthen relationships with your most engaged customers, who can then become advocates for your brand. – Aliza Freud, SheSpeaks, Inc.
4. Improve The Employee Experience First
Businesses often fail to consider the correlation between customer and employee experience. When staff love their job and workplace, customers who interact with them will be more drawn to the brand. The passion of an engaged employee makes for better connections with customers and a stronger desire for them to become brand-loyal. Do more for your employees, and they’ll do more for your customers. – Philip A. Nardone, PAN Communications
5. Focus On What Your Customer Needs
Consider the consumer perspective in every conversation. Brands usually think about what they want to say. Instead, try focusing on what your consumer needs and how you can provide it. Seek to offer inspiration, advice, entertainment or information that will truly better their day or life — from your very first touchpoint. – Kate Weidner , SRW
6. Educate Your Consumer
Educate your consumer. People become deeply connected with specific moments that spark their interest, educate them or show them a new perspective. These moments become memories attributed to your brand experience. Be truthful, educative and transparent with your audience to create stronger bonds that make your consumers loyalists. – Alex Quin, UADV
7. Focus On Relationship-Building
Focus on customer relationship-building. Start by remembering details and occasions, and asking questions to learn more about them to be able to make the customers feel special. When clients feel a part of a brand and that the brand listens and communicates with them, it creates trust and builds brand. Focus on going deep, not just wide, when it comes to customer experience. Make your customer feel special. – Tony Pec, Y Not You Media
8. Make Sure CX Meets Expectations
Great advertising builds anticipation of what interaction with a brand would look like. Once CX meets the expectations, it builds trust and sets a consumer on a path to brand loyalty. If a brand adds to a personal image, the recommendations to friends might follow. Approaching the CX through the consumers’ eyes, rather than the production cycle and supply chain, is the key to success. – Oksana Matviichuk, Zenith
9. Offer Them A Platform To Tell Their Stories
Offer your customers a platform to tell their stories in this environment. As the brand, you can certainly place some guardrails on the type of content that’s admissible — how your brand helped them get through an experience, the first thing they are going to do with your brand when we get past the current crises, etc. Seek to inspire them, acknowledge them and reward them for sharing compelling content. – Dean Trevelino, Trevelino/Keller
10. Collect And Leverage First-Party Data
Collect and leverage first-party data. Our customers share large volumes of information with us, and they expect us to hear them and use that information to deliver a personalized experience. Develop systems that allow you to collect, store and apply the data you have on each customer to give them an intuitive experience. It is the expectation and they are frustrated when brands miss the mark. – Korena Keys, KeyMedia Solutions
11. Focus On Your Post-Sale Process
The real work begins after the purchase. Brands may invest heavily in driving attention and traffic to get the sale, but you must have a follow-up plan to nurture customers after checkout. Follow up on their product or service experience promptly. Address questions or concerns quickly. Remember that real success comes from the lifetime value of the customer, not the one-and-done purchase. – Bernard May, National Positions
12. Hire From Within Your Target Demographic
If you want to consider your customer experience, you need insight from your target demographic. Make sure you’re getting insight directly from the source, not just what you think is hitting the mark. – Kelly Samuel, Kelly Samuel