Customer experience. It seems like this should in many ways be common sense, but the topic becomes really interesting when you see a company that really does not understand the ramifications.
We all know the companies that we return to because they understand their customers every need.
Our local grocery chain, Wegmans, has built a national reputation and rapid growth on providing amazing customer experiences. Locals take out-of-towners to walk the Flagship store because it’s impressive. Every possible food want and need is offered and presented in a way that makes you not want to hate food shopping. Cooking classes, a huge deli, beautiful breads, healthy eating tips and fresh floral arrangements. People don’t just want to shop there, they want to be a part of it as employees. Wegmans starts everyone at the bottom to be trained in helping the customer. After our local did an overhaul of the entire store, they stationed people at the ends of aisles with printouts and helpful directions so that you could be sure to find where the tuna now was, instead of wandering around aimlessly without tuna.
Let’s take a look at how this happens.
Make your customers feel important/smart. Seems reasonable to state that, but this means different things to different people. Getting out of your own shoes and into theirs is key for knowing what makes their life better when they select your service. Success with this comes from understanding what they need and when they need it. Is your main customer on the older end of things? Maybe they need some additional explanation to use a technical device.
Customers are in a hurry (mostly always), so be in a position to make requests happen. Whether that is a no-hassle return and credit, help in finding the right solution, or assistance in sorting out a custom result that will be just the thing, be there and be ready to jump.
Service with a smile. Sounds trite, but as the world goes increasingly digital for everything from fresh food to toilet paper, your brand personality needs to sparkle on everything your customer sees. Invoices, shipping updates, return instructions, tags and bags, website, apps and coupons. We’ve all dealt with businesses where there is a bored, negative or even an angry vibe. How often have you gone back? Thought so. Keep it positive. Take a page from anyplace, Midwest, USA. They are polite, friendly and you enjoy the experience.
Take a really hard look at your website (also called UX - User Experience). You know your pages inside and out. Your customers do not. Review your site on a regular basis, especially if you are building a new one or rebranding. Things get moved and not always into the best place. Don’t use three clicks if one will do. This is one of the reasons templates have moved into using the “single home page” style of site. No clicking, just keep scrolling.
There’s no business like returning business. You already know that getting a past customer to return is MUCH easier than finding a brand new one. Make it easy for repeat business.
Get organized. The bigger the company, the more important this becomes. Providers seem to have forgotten this one when it comes to “switching from paper to digital files.” For example: If you’ve ever had a standing order for something that suddenly disappeared and it took a week to get a new one, ran out of your stuff in the meantime and had to call several times to remind your other provider to have the order sent to the first provider, you have experienced the tip of the iceberg. See below on what happens when you make the customer chase you…
What NOT to do (Or Don’t do What Donny Don’t Does)
Don’t make your customers chase you to get something accomplished. If your customers are mostly female, they will hold this against you for life and spread the word. Whatever it is, make it happen, and make it snappy. Women have 1,423 things to do today and waiting for you to get your act together isn’t one of them. This is only going to become more important.
Don’t take too long to make changes that should be straightforward. We recently changed gas providers and it took them six weeks to come to pick up the old propane hippo in our yard. We still haven’t seen our several hundred dollar check for the remaining pre-purchased fuel after two months. Wondering why we switched? Moving on…
It can be really easy to get caught up in the daily grind of running your company and forget why you are there in the first place. Stop and get a fresh sense of how your customers view what you offer. It may be the best thing you can do for the life of your company.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Amanda MacDonald, Founder of Full Gallop Communications, is a marketing veteran that works with equine-based businesses on improving brand communication, marketing strategy and content marketing. With over 17 years of experience, and a lifetime of riding behind her, MacDonald loves to work with the companies that enrich the lives of her riding partners. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about how your marketing efforts can become more successful.