Customer service has a bigger impact today on both existing customers and internal customers. The experience economy has evolved to become a deal breaker in many situations for many business and brands.
In a recent report, Gartner found that 89% of companies surveyed plan to compete primarily on the basis of the customer experience by 2016, a significant jump since 2014 (36%) and 2015 (58%). This major change highlights the growing need for businesses to adapt, improve, and excel at providing excellent customer experiences.
Customer experience is no longer something handled purely by a call center or department. It’s a multitude of several touch points a customer can have with your organization. That’s why every organization would serve themselves better if they examine every engagement in reaching their customer throughout their experience with the company’s products and people.
The customer experience is becoming an increasingly key piece of a competitive business strategy as well. We all trying to chase new customers, but if you don’t provide excellent customer service, you will stay behind the competition.
Business leaders and executives understand the importance and power of providing an experience to customers–not purely a clumsy transaction that nobody cares about. Today, bad customer experience should be the thing that keeps every business executive up at night. Nine times out of ten, the customer experience is the only thing differentiating a company from others. In 2016, it will become even more important.
Without creating a memorable experience, chances are the customer is walking. They have more options than ever without missing a beat. The customer today also has a voice. With the ever growing use of social media at the finger tips, they can immediately tell the world about your business. Good or bad, they are not hesitating to share their words.
So how can we lead a more memorable customer experience in 2016? Here are few suggestions from my personal experience in the hospitality field, but can easily be applied in any customer experience brand. I have worked with companies such as Marriott, Hilton and Starwood and InterContinental Hotels Group. They all taught me the importance of customer experience leadership.
Create a customer service culture
The customer experience really begins with your employees’ experience. Your employees must feel they are part of an empowering organization that wants to deliver an amazing customer experience at every touch points. Leaders must work toward developing and inspiring people to go the extra mile for the customer. A company culture is not built in a day, but when you look at the best companies in customer service, they all have one thing in common-culture of service!
Make your customer feel like a million bucks!
How many of us have been somewhere and felt like another number or a transaction that was meaningless in how we were treated? I think many of us can relate. Customers should never be taken for granted. In fact, you should make every effort to acknowledge and roll out the red carpet by welcoming them and appreciating their business.
Continue to add value to their experiences
Things being equal, the quality of service and the value for what the customer is getting will determine their loyalty to your brand. Customers today are willing to pay more for better service. They want added value to their experiences. This requires us to get out of our comfort zone and think creatively on how to become more than just a business providing service. How do we change lives? We want to WOW and delight the customers to the point of them sharing their experiences with others.
Get on-going feedback and follow up
Feedback is all around us. All you have to do is open up any social media platform and you will see the rising voice of the customer. We should use those as an opportunity connect even more by following up on their observations and concerns. So many of us take our customers for granted. That they will come back. However, if your customers are important to you, take the time to listen and care for their impressions of the experiences they shared. Maybe you can learn something new? Feedback can sometimes provide you with a better perspective as the customer is the one walking your business from point A to point Z.
Let’s make 2016 an exciting year of memorable customer experiences. How do you start? It begins with your own contribution to step and lead.
Have a great year!