Back in the day, if you were the local baker, consumers in your town would buy their baked goods from you just because you were the local supplier. They were virtually a captive audience. As society grew, alternative suppliers appeared but these were still largely subject to geographic boundaries. Initially the internet meant buyers could research alternative suppliers nearby. But those boundaries no-longer exist. The internet has literally opened the doors to a global marketplace. Logistics aside, consumers can now source goods from anywhere in the world and subsequently, hold the power of choice.
The second most significant impact brought about by the growth of the Internet is that it has given consumers the power of voice. In simple terms, if they don’t like the way you looked after them, it’s very easy for consumers to tell the world about it… and they do!
While it’s generally accepted that word-of-mouth marketing is the best form of marketing, when things go wrong, it can too easily become the most dangerous form of marketing.
So, how can we turn the odds in our favour when, as business owners, they seem so solidly stacked against us.
A recent article in CMO Magazine Australia stated, “In this new age of the customer, experience is the currency of competitive advantage.”
Customer Experience is far more than what has traditionally been viewed as Customer Service. It’s a holistic approach to exceeding the expectations of your customers, ensuring every box is ticked, even the small ones, across the entire transactional journey.
With the enormous shift in the way consumers shop and online shopping providing more choice than ever before, your strongest opportunity to differentiate yourself from the competition is to build lasting relationships with your customers through exceptional Customer Experiences.
Customer success requires far more than just great quality products or services. Providing the highest standards in every aspect of the Customer Journey is not just important, research shows it’s an absolute necessity and requires a systematic approach to ensure it happens by design, not just by chance.
Business owners typically go to great lengths to develop extensive Business Plans and Marketing Plans but neglect to also consider a Customer Success Plan.
1. Take time to understand and map the Customer Journey for your business
Consider the entire process prior to, during and post the transaction.
Your goal is to identify all the touch points or moments of truth associated with the purchase of the type of product or service you offer and what the likely expectations would be for the many different types of customers you encounter.
Doing so should provide an understanding of what you and your team need to provide at each point to meet or hopefully exceed as many of those expectations as possible.
2. Develop and implement a Code of Practice
Having created your Customer Journey Map, you should now have the insight required to refine your processes around these desired outcomes and develop a Code of Practice.
This Team Code can also be integrated into your onboarding process and all future training initiatives.
The changes to your existing processes will often only need to be subtle shifts. So long as they become more customer-centric they will contribute to higher levels of customer satisfaction.
When pleasing your customers is designed in from the start, you’re far more likely to achieve the desired results than simply leaving it to chance.
3. Conduct regular assessments to ensure those standards are being maintained
The most important element to implementing change of any description is checking that the redesigned practises are adhered to over time and that we haven’t slipped back into old habits.
The best way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to conduct regular self-assessments and check in with everyone that what should be happening is indeed the case. I call this process a Customer Walk. You put your ‘Customer Hat’ on and ‘walk’ through all points of the Customer Journey you identified and make sure all those customer expectation boxes are still being ticked.
The key to Customer Success is to make every person you serve feel like they’ve been appreciated, valued, respected and treated like a personal guest.
My favourite quote that captures the essence of this is from Maya Angelou. She said:
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said,
people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
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