Have you ever wondered what does it mean to have a great customer experience? How will you know that what you provide as part of your product or service not only fills the need but also builds confidence, bond and brand awareness? How come your competition can sell the same product or service way more expensive that you do? How come customers still love them even though they happen to make mistakes?
Let me answer all of those questions from the perspective of a person who is in touch with clients in the key points of their engagement. Clients that are highly intelligent, demanding and oftentimes under heavy pressure to deliver results. Clients that when making a selection of software development agency risk the future of their companies.
The short answer is simple.
Unless your product is so unique that no one else can do it, what you sell is a great journey built around customer goals and needs. What you sell is results and time – not the software, not the service.
The way you do it though is through amazing product, fabulous customer experience and carefully designed client journey from the first contact till the end of cooperation and beyond.
If you are just intrigued by the question, go and read the last two paragraphs. If you want to learn more, read in full.
Clear, direct and precise communication
Number one sin of customer support teams or service providers is a bad communication experience. Especially, when most of the requests or complaints go through the email where we tend to lose voice, tone, rhythm and body language.
Furthermore, there are differences in culture and personalities. Some of us prefer phone calls over emails, emails over face to face or meetings over everything else.
The results are delayed communication (oftentimes by weeks), misunderstandings, ignorance, and lack of empathy on both sides which leads to frustration and anger.
It’s absolutely crucial for any business to identify and analyze key touch points that your customers have with the brand. Without constant, conscious investment in the area of communication, you will more likely than not fail the trust in the moment of crisis. Bad reviews will follow.
It’s not enough to have a great marketing team that will generate attention, interest and desire and near perfect sales team to convert leads into clients. No doubt that they will know how to communicate well. It’s no brainer.
However, nowadays, the goal is not to sell and forget but to create a bond between the customer and the brand. Long term – you want your customers to become brand advocates that will happily recommend your product or service to their friends.
To make that vision come true, you need to realize that marketing and sales are just the beginning of the journey, not the end. Every email, phone call, and meeting needs to be at the same, high-quality level.
Your product, office and the restaurant where you take your biggest customers for a dinner should follow. Every detail matters. Otherwise, what’s the point at having the best online presence possible if you fail in real life.
The true image of your product
Have you ever felt that the product or service will absolutely change your life, gaming experience, the way you travel or think, but the moment you get it – you felt disappointed – even though the product was amazing.
People buy gym passes based on the promise created by professionals on Instagram. They think it will be easy to get in shape, lose a few pounds and add muscle. And when things don’t go that way they blame the fitness industry and gym owner.
It’s a poor customer experience that can bring a lot of negative PR.
Instead, be open and frank about product or service, focus on the problem your customer has not on the solution you can offer. Engage, only when there is a mutual fit.
Don’t sell to people that don’t need your product. There is no way you will ever please them.
Why do we think it’s OK for us to get stuck in the traffic jam early in the morning during our commute to work, but it makes our blood boil when it happens late at night?
It’s all about expectations.
We rarely get angry when we see something coming when we understand the reason behind it. It’s strange but exactly the same situation can be perceived as totally different based on the context.
When selling be honest about timelines, complexity, costs and the results. Don’t put yourself in a position when you can’t meet unrealistic expectations that were set just to sign a contract. It’s a poor strategy that will sooner or later end up in massive complaints. The same applies to marketing and service realization.
Always, set correct expectations and you are halfway towards happier customers.
Keeping yourself accountable
Another great example from real life. Happens nearly all the time, everyone does it. Promises, that will come true only if 10 other simultaneous things will not be delayed.
“I’ll come back to you by the end of next day. No worries.”, “We will send it this week, it’s already in our warehouse.”, “We are already finishing.”.
Guess what, when I hear such phrase I immediately assume there will be some problems.
Again, customers want to hear the truth, even if it’s not the most pleasing thing on the planet. When you make a promise, keep yourself accountable. Don’t lie, don’t assume the most optimistic scenario that you internally already know will not come true.
Openness and transparency
That’s a double-edged sword. Everyone says they want a full partnership, openness, and transparency. On the other side, you don’t want to flood your customer with too much detail and information. It needs to be at the right level at the right time.
There is a great paper written by Ethan Bernstein called The Transparency Trap that touches on every important aspect of it. I highly, highly recommend you to take a look at it before making any decisions in this area.
From the perspective of pure customer experience, you don’t want to be like a black box so that no one knows what’s inside, but you also don’t want to be to a cube of ice where everything is visible. You need a balance. Especially, if you are in the services industry where most of a time we don’t sell tangible, easily measurable things.
It’s a tough art, bot worth practicing.
Now, let’s get to the point.
Why do I think that little obsession with customer experience is a good thing? Well, as every obsession, it makes you constantly think about it. You keep looking for a better way, you keep asking yourself the same questions over and over again – “Are my customers happy? What do they think about us? How can I help them get more out of this cooperation? What are the weak points of our product or service?”.
Customers are the best brand advocates, it really matters what they feel, think and say. Social selling and word of mouth marketing can easily become the strongest cornerstone of your business. It takes time to realize that but it’s worth it.