Think back to a time when you had an amazing experience with a business. Now think of a time where the experience you had was not so great. The experience customers have with your company can make or break their decision to buy. For this very reason, as a small business owner it is absolutely crucial you think about the customer experience you’re offering because a positive customer experience is vital to the success and growth of your business. HubSpot research shows more than 80% of companies who prioritize customer experience are reporting an increase in revenue. Not to mention these stats which highlight the importance of a positive customer experience: $1.6 trillion is lost each year due to poor customer service; customers will spend 17% more for a good experience; and customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable than companies that aren't.
OK, so the stats around the benefits of customer experience prove its importance. Yet how do you truly delight your customers? Of course it’s important to deliver an outstanding product or service, however the entire customer experience is integral to the success of your business. How you communicate with customers and how you leave them feeling is the missing piece of the business growth puzzle. In this article you’ll discover ways you can improve the experience customers have with your business, and ultimately grow your small business.
What Do We Mean by Customer Experience?
First things first: what do we mean when we talk about the customer experience? According to HubSpot, customer experience is the impression your customers have of your brand as a whole throughout all aspects of the buyer's journey. It results in their view of your brand and impacts factors related to your bottom line including revenue.
Communication Is Key
In order to know if your customers are happy, you need to understand what they need (and if you're meeting those needs). Undoubtedly the service or product you provide is of the highest quality, but this is only part of customer happiness, communication is also very important. It is crucial that your customers are always clear on what next steps are, what to expect from you and what you may need from them. Here are some simple ways you can communicate and set expectations with customers via email or text:
- How is the product or service being delivered?
- When should they expect it?
- If there are delays, how is this being communicated?
Map Out The Process
If your product or service is being delivered over a period of time, mapping out the process can really help manage customer’s expectations and keep them happy throughout the experience. For example, if you’re providing a house build, pool installation or website design, mapping out the process in a timeline and explaining to the customer what happens and when will let your customers know that you really care about them. It’s especially important to send updates when there are delays. Or, if you need information from your customers to move to the next step. This allows them plenty of time to get you the information you need in order to move forward.
But I Don’t Have the Time to Do All That!
I hear you. The above process sounds like it would take up a lot of your precious time and resources that you could be using to sell and build your business. The good news is, it doesn’t have to.
Enter … Automation
There are so many automation tools available on the market these days that will help take menial processes and turn them into fast-tracked outcomes that you don’t even have to think about. If you’re unfamiliar with marketing automation tools, it may take some time to set it up initially, but it is definitely worth the investment of time and money. Why? Because ultimately, it will save you time and money down the track because happy customers will drive more business.
Getting feedback from your customers throughout the process is extremely important. You need to make sure your customers are happy at all times. According to HubSpot, customers share good experiences with an average of 9 people and poor experiences with about 16 people. That’s why it's vital you figure out customer issues and do your best to solve them before they go viral on social media. So how can you figure out whether customers are happy or not? By asking for feedback. Asking customers to complete a lengthy questionnaire at the end of their experience is not going to provide a positive customer experience for them. It takes time, it’s interruptive and they need to often reflect back on an experience from days, weeks or months ago. This means they may forget something (and it’s more likely to be a good experience they’ll forget) because people inherently remember negative experiences.
The best way to go about asking customers for feedback is to ask a simple question throughout the process (and make sure it’s relevant). For example, you have just signed up a new customer. When you send them the contract to sign and set expectations on what will happen next, and when. After this communication (or meeting) send an email with one question, such as: please rank your recent experience. Give them 3-5 options to easily click on, or even an emoji to select. Then, ask an open-ended follow up question to explain their answer. It’s quick and easy for the customer, and a simple way for you to gain valuable insight into how your process is working, and if customers are happy with it. If yes, you can keep doing what you’re doing. If not, you’ll need to make a change, and keep making changes until your customers are happy.