customer experience

Creating Competitive Advantage by Offering a Great Customer Experience

You’ve probably heard the complaint that customer service “just ain’t what it used to be.”

Today, this saying is truer than ever.

Have you noticed how prices are rising, but standards of service are getting lower? This started during the COVID pandemic as businesses dealt with staff shortages, adjusting to new safety protocols, and adapting to work from home options.

Yet, it’s continued.

Last week I called my doctor’s office to make an appointment and I had to go through multiple levels of prompts before I got to sit on hold for 10 minutes.

Then my call got disconnected and I had to start again. And that’s just to schedule the appointment! Don’t get me started on the redundant forms they make me fill in when I get there.

When these things happen, instead of getting frustrated, I look for the opportunity (twisted, I know).

What are all the scenarios that could have occurred instead that would have made me a raving fan?

Offering a better customer experience presents an enormous opportunity for business owners to differentiate their business and create a competitive advantage.

Your best clients are starving for higher quality service.

Let’s look at how to deliver it.

Why customer experience is so important

When businesses are stretched thin, it’s easy for a commitment to the customer experience to land pretty low on the priority list.

But it’s so valuable to your business.

The way your customers feel about their relationship with your business is a huge driver of their future behavior.

And according to Price Waterhouse Cooper, buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience.

Leave your customers feeling seen and valued after each encounter with your business, and you’ll earn their loyalty. (And their referrals.)

It’s simple – but perhaps not easy.

When you’re a busy business owner, it’s essentially impossible for you to welcome each client or customer who enters your space.

That’s why it’s so important to make sure that everyone who engages with your customers is doing so with the highest level of customer experience in mind – and doing so consistently in a way that reflects your culture and brand.

Providing a great customer experience is a team effort.

How to up your customer experience game

Depending on the details of your business, the customer experience can look like a lot of different things.

But at its most basic, a good customer experience entails connecting with your clients, understanding what they value, and providing an experience for them that leaves them feeling positive about your relationship.

Here are 5 ways you can intentionally improve your team’s customer experience approach.

1. Listen to your customers.

This might sound too obvious, but you have to ask your customers what they need before you can give them what they need.

You might be surprised at the number of businesses that jump straight into making a plan for a stellar customer experience – but that plan is built on the experience the business owner WANTS customers to have or what they SUSPECT customers need.

This almost always falls short.

Instead, listen to your customers on an ongoing basis, which means establishing consistent feedback loops so that customers can share their thoughts and experiences with you.

2. Map out the customer experience.

A customer experience map is a foundational element of design thinking and can help you define points within your customers’ experiences where you can surprise and delight them – or at the very least, anticipate their needs.

Create a visual of your customers’ end-to-end experience – outlining key touchpoints, interactions, and activities – overlapped with customer questions, needs, and motivations along the journey. You can do this with post-it notes on a wall or by using a program like Miro.

The key is to see things from your customers’ perspective instead of just your own. You may find it helpful to talk to your customers and have them describe their experience with your business.

Use what you learn here to develop your systems.

3. Focus on emotional intelligence.

Let’s be real: good customer service is hard.

People are sometimes unreasonable, and depending on the type of business you own, they also may be highly emotional when they’re interacting with your team.

Any customer experience training you provide for your team must use emotional intelligence as its foundation.

This will prepare you and your team to interpret the complexities of other people’s emotions, and to respond to them in a way that’s meaningful.

4. Increase your team’s business knowledge.

The more your team understands about the specific services you provide, the more helpful they can be.

For the highest levels of customer experience, your team needs to be well-versed in the scope of services your business provides, and how those services meet customer needs.

Don’t assume that just because your team is steeped in your environment that they understand all the ins-and-outs of what you can provide.

This should be an area of regular, ongoing training.

There is nothing more frustrating for a customer than dealing with uninformed and poorly trained representatives of your business.

5. Emphasize problem-solving.

In addition to coaching your team on how to address customers’ immediate pain points, challenge them to think beyond short-term solutions.

Give your team the resources and power they need to escalate concerns and to make recommendations for implementing more permanent solutions. This is the essence of synergistic collaboration!

By teaching your team to be proactive, you can minimize the kind of back-and-forth interactions that feel repetitive and are likely to cause frustration for your customers.

The customer experience you and your team provide can be a key differentiator when it comes to gaining a competitive advantage for your business.

If you’d like to talk through some ways you can optimize your customer experience approach, I’d love to help.

Please reach out and set up a consultation call today – together, we can make a real difference for your customers and your business.

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