Your customers experience with you is a determining factor for them if they become a repeat customer or not.
At the time of transaction, the customer has already determined their purchasing pattern with you – sure you can work to adjust their perception, but remember you are starting from their predetermined point, not yours. Their experience up and the point of finalising the deal is what has brought them to this point. It’s pretty safe to assume that if you ticked them off at any time during the sales process that they would have turned around and left. The customer, after all, initially owes you nothing.
In the current retail environment, customers are spoilt for choice and products are largely commodities that anyone can peddle. With this in mind, you need to initially position yourself ahead of the curve – ahead of what everyone else is doing. Otherwise you are just trawling and hoping for the best.
The trick is to better manage your Customer Experience (CX) process. Ideally, you need to drive this CX rather than be held hostage to customer perceptions; perceptions that they have already formulated through their own research or through the bombardment of messages that they may have already received. Your customers determine which messages they receive so your task is to place your message front and centre in their mind.
There are strategies that you can adopt in all your communications that start before you know who your customer is, strategies that drive the sales process once contact has been made, and strategies that should be used to ensure either repeat business or glowing references for you. This is the total CX.
Following are 4 strategies that I have borrowed from an article written by Grace Kraus - Four steps to best practice design thinking in CX projects.
Establish a customer focus approach. Know who your customers are. Develop your contact strategies around what your customers want and expect and mold your products around these expectations. Exceed the customer expectations and you have correctly positioned yourself.
If you listen, your customers are generally more that willing to provide you with all the feedback that you need. Keep communication lines open and act appropriately on what your customers tell you. Put yourself into your customers shoes and be prepared to see things from their viewpoint.
Get the entire organisation on board. Don’t build a silo. All the information that you discover about your customers, how you need to communicate, what your products need to do, how it is pitched, what you need to do before the sales process, and what needs to be done post sale, needs to be communicated to all your staff. All staff need to be on the same page, and this includes staff that have direct customer contact as well as those that don’t.
Establish innovation hubs, focus groups, labs, etc. This ties in directly with the customer focus approach. Sometimes, timelines dictate that you cannot sit back and wait for feedback. You need to be proactive and seek customer feedback.
This is not about hosting an event (although it could be something like that), it is not about unsolicited requests for information (although it could also be something like that as well), it is about creating a space (real or virtual) with staff and potential customers where ideas can be brainstormed. Taste testers is one way; mystery shoppers is another, so long as the information is collated, analysed, and acted upon. I think you would be surprised at just how willing people around you want to influence what you do, especially if there is an effective reward for them at the end of the process.
External Collaboration Like-minded individuals, industry groups, business groups and incubators are all a ripe source of information that can have a direct relevance to what you do or want to do, and this all feeds into a holistic CX outcome.
Establishing a direction as part of your pre-CX development process is a smart path to take. Although the landscape is constantly changing, gaining background information on strategies that have worked and have not worked from people that have tried something is an intelligent way of testing the market without actually testing the market.