I want to connect to a company and understand their beliefs.
They sent me a new one! This company really rocks.
Company policies matter to me. Are they paying their employees? I’ve heard bad things.
I want them to fix my shoe issue and do it right.
I STILL haven’t heard back from company A. I am so frustrated!
These are customer comments I found this morning on various retail shopping sites. I read them in my search for a new winter coat. I did wonder, when the reviewers only had positive things to say, if some of them were real people, as opposed to paid employees. Ultimately it didn’t matter. There are enough clothing companies out there, so I kept shopping until I found reviews on the few coats that I liked and felt right.
Yes, I said felt.
Managing the Customer Experience
Customer experience today has a lot to do with feelings and emotions. It’s not just about the product, or pricing, or place, or promotions.
For businesses, this means managing people’s experience and dealing with massive amounts of customer feedback about your company, products, and services.
With feedback coming from everywhere online (online reviews, social media comments, customer feedback surveys, among others), businesses can more easily and instantly gain access to “Voice of the Customer” data and use this to measure and optimize the overall customer experience. Through customer experience management, you can spur innovation in all key touchpoints where customers have interactions with your company.
When customers share their story, they’re not just sharing pain points. They’re actually teaching you how to make your product, service, and business better. Your customer service organization should be designed to efficiently communicate those issues.
– Kristin Smaby, Being Human is Good Business
Listening to the Voice of the Customer
You must first listen to the voice of the customer in order to more accurately understand and measure the customer experience.
How do customers feel about your company? What do they really think about your products and services? And what do they think you should do in order to do better next time?
Answering these questions is no longer just an option in today’s customer-empowered world. To succeed in driving loyalty, you must understand customers better, map and analyze their interactions with your business, and determine their feelings, mood, sentiment, and opinion about your brand.
You can do this by collecting, managing, and analyzing customer feedback. And, thanks to the Internet, feedback today happens to be ubiquitous. Long gone are the days when you filled out customer cards and used those to share suggestions for a business’ improvement. Today’s customers share blog posts, write online reviews and ratings, and generate unprompted conversations on all kinds of sites and apps.
The most successful, customer-centric businesses use these sites and apps and feedback channels as tools for learning more about their customers, connecting with them, and responding to their needs. Through customer experience management, businesses are also able to better understand how they are performing, and they use Voice of the Customer data in order to share insights to various departments and foster operational and service improvements where needed.
I contacted your company with no response. Why? You didn’t send the correct color jacket. I wanted a green one not blue. I am not happy with this green jacket.
If you have a program in place to deal with unhappy customers, listen to feedback, acknowledge and apologize for customer service mistakes, and make improvements based on Voice of the Customer data, you can turn negative reviews around and strengthen your brand reputation in ways that make a positive impact on your bottom line. By listening to feedback and managing the customer experience, you can also turn your harshest critics into loyal customers, or at least customers that are no longer dissatisfied.
Ignoring feedback and not paying to the customer experience, meanwhile, can damage your company’s reputation and drive future customers away. Surfing the internet, those who come across a review like the one above will think, I don’t want them to send me the wrong color. I might as well look elsewhere.
While this might seem like obvious advice, it is the follow-through that matters. Don’t just listen to feedback or collect data; act on the insights you gain and work quickly to resolve issues and trends with the customer experience.
Several studies demonstrate that churn is due to poor service. For example, a Pitney Bowes survey of American and European businesses finds that slow customer service is the most common reason for changing a supplier (51 percent of respondents), followed by late delivery of a service (37 percent), and lack of concern for customer needs (30 percent). Studies of the U.K. utilities market reveal that market share of incumbent suppliers is influenced more by service performance than by price position relative to competitors.
Enterprise Feedback Management
Today, the Customer Knows Best
Technology has changed the way we do business. This has happened quickly, especially in the past ten years. With the change, we have seen that customer habits have changed as well. Gone are the days where the company dictates the customers’ needs. Today, the customer knows best.
You must respond to the customer’s challenge and deliver. Luckily, there are online review and customer feedback management software companies able to implement solutions for measuring and optimizing the customer experience.
A 2011 American Express Survey found that 7 in 10 Americans are willing to spend more with companies that they believe provide excellent customer service.
Without listening to feedback and managing the customer experience, however, you cannot provide excellent service. It is only when you understand how customers think and feel that you can truly address their wants, needs, and expectations.
Developing meaningful (and profitable) customer relationships
Long-term commitment to your customers is not something the marketplace has spent time focusing on in the past. Many companies used to want profits and sales and customers quickly, without attempting to develop relationships and foster customer loyalty.
However, with a little time investment and the right tools put into place, you can begin to turn that outlook around. Developing meaningful trust-based relationships with customers allows them to become long-term loyal advocates who have an emotional bond with your company or brand, and who share the same values as you. Loyal customers will stay true to you and even bring fellow consumers with them if they feel that bond.
Through customer experience management, you can more effectively inspire loyalty and create an emotional bond with existing customers.
Customer Experience Management is Essential
Although it might seem like a huge undertaking, managing the customer experience is a worthwhile strategic venture. Your profits and shareholders will thank you. So will your customers, whom you’ll be in a great position to retain and grow with, maybe even for their lifetime.