“We promise excellent customer service!” – It is marketing speak that gets bandied about a lot! But when last were you truly blown away by customer service? When last did you walk away feeling so impressed by your experience with a company that you wanted to tell people about it? It probably wouldn't take you too long to remember an experience that left a spectacular, lasting impression.

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On the flip side, it probably wouldn’t take you too long to think of an experience that left you feeling quite the opposite – frustrated, disappointed and resolved to never go back.

Now ask yourself honestly, is the service you provide your customers excellent? Do you believe that your customers walk away inspired to evangelise your brand, inspired to come back? Is your customer service an ACE (Amazing Customer Experience) or is it spades? Before you can answer this, you must understand what customer experience is and why it is so important.

Customer Experience

The best way to describe customer experience is as the impression you leave with your customers at every touch point during their journey with your business. For example, when you stay at a hotel, your customer journey begins when you walk through the door; the genuine greeting you receive from the doorman; the efficiency of the receptionist; the neatness of the staff and the pride they take in their uniform; the cleanliness of your room; the quality of service and the food you receive in the restaurant, and the approachableness of personnel and their willingness to tend to your requests, right through to the warm farewell you get on your departure.

In any business, there are various touch points in the customer journey, with interplay between people and product. At each of these touch points, you want your customer to be reassured that they are being taken care of and that their business is important to you from start to finish.

Here’s why creating an excellent customer experience is important

Today’s consumers are discerning and they can generally pick and choose where they take their business. Excellent customer service is the only thing that will differentiate your business from another business offering a similar product or service. Research by PWC shows buyers are willing to pay more for convenience and a great customer experience.*

According to PWC, speed, convenience, consistency and friendliness make for a great customer experience: “People are increasingly loyal to the retailers, products, brands and devices that consistently provide exceptional value with minimum friction or stress.”

“43% of all consumers would pay more for greater convenience; 42% would pay more for a friendly, welcoming experience. And, 65% find a positive experience with a brand to be more influential than great advertising.”

Loyal and satisfied customers are also one of your best marketing channels because they will talk positively about your products and services, refer their friends and leave positive customer reviews that will help your business retain revenue and win new customers.

Look at your customers’ journey

To create a great customer experience, you need to build a customer journey map. Where does the journey with each customer start? Is it when they walk through the door of your shop? Is it when they submit a query via your website? Is it when they call your offices?

At this first touch point, what is the experience they get? Are they being met with a friendly greeting? How quickly do they get a response to an email or query on your website or Facebook page? How long do they sit on hold before their call is answered? And when the call is answered, what is the reception they get?

What is the next touch point? Could it be your salesperson who is guiding them through your product features to determine whether it could suit their needs? Does the salesperson listen to the customer? How knowledgeable is he on your product’s features?

Customer Journey

The payment system on your website could also be a touch point. If the customer struggles to make the transaction or if the website keeps hanging, this degrades the customer experience.

Another touch point could be the point at which your product changes hands. How presentable is the delivery person who takes your products to your customers? If you own a restaurant or café, is your service staff friendly and well-presented?

And at the end of the customer journey, what are you doing to make your customer feel like you really want them back?

Getting an ACE

Touch points will vary by industry and within every business. As a small business owner, you should carefully consider what your customer needs and think strategically about how you can deliver this to them quickly, seamlessly and at a fair price. Define your brand promise and look for ways of optimising and streamlining the various touch points in your customers’ journey with your company so that you deliver on this promise.

Every person and department influences the customer journey whether they realise it or not. Marketing and sales tend to set the tone in the pre-sale experience, communicating value and setting customer expectations. Once the customer is onboard, the baton is passed to your product, your customer service personal and your operational staff. As the baton gets passed from person to person or from department to department, it becomes their job deliver on that brand promise. That is why it is important to make all of your employees advocates of the customer experience.

Analyse your customer journey to ensure you are adding value and putting your customer’s convenience and experience first! Once have a good sense of your customers’ needs and how well you are meeting them, you can address the points of “friction” that are impacting their experience.

Don’t try to make dramatic, sweeping changes all at once. Instead, hone in on the most glaring issues where you can achieve “quick wins’ and then plan to make incremental improvements that can be implemented and measured over time to determine their effectiveness.

When redefining your customer experience and rejuvenating each touch point in your customers’ journey, remember that speed, convenience, consistency and friendliness make an ACE.

How we can help

The significance of exceptional customer service for business success is important. It encourages businesses to invest in training, technology, and a customer-centric mindset to consistently deliver outstanding experiences that build customer loyalty and drive growth. By implementing these strategies, businesses can ensure that their customer service is an "Ace" rather than a "Spades" in the competitive market.

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Written by ActionCOACH April 17, 2024
ActionCOACH is recognised as the creator and most successful practitioner of business and executive coaching methodology that offers owners and managers a new perspective on their businesses and companies.