Customer experience drives revenues. If you’re skeptical, look at McKinsey & Company’s recent article that digs deep into what CX (customer experience) means and what to avoid. One of the most impactful articles to date is Forbes’ “Customer Experience Best Practices When Mistakes Happen.” The most salient point is, “It’s not just one interaction that matters, but rather the entire customer journey that shapes people’s perception of their overall experience.”
When you place CX at the forefront of every interaction, front-line employees must have the control to make decisions. Because when you prioritize CX from a bottom-up approach, your front line takes care of mistakes immediately, and customers overlook them while remaining brand fanatics.
Here are a few CX best practices to avoid when creating a response that leave customers happy, satisfied, and still raving fans.
1. Set expectations up front.
This is a classic best practice maneuver that works well most of the time until it doesn’t. Rather than set an expectation you might not meet, leave expectations alone until you’re certain you know when and how you’ll deliver your product or customers can get it.
If you tell a customer you’re delivering their order on a certain date, and then don’t meet that date, you’ve created instant dissatisfaction. Only set expectations when you’re positive you can meet them. (In today’s upside down world, thanks to the coronavirus, making and keeping expectations are more important than ever.)
2. Customer experience is just for e-commerce.
If you’re in business, you have customers. Regardless of your type of business, you must provide amazing CX or your customers will turn elsewhere.
For example, a dentist’s office that provides an amazing customer experience such as free toothbrushes, floss, and toothpaste for customers to use before they’re called for their appointment goes a long way to making customers feel welcome.
Any business that treats customers outside of the e-commerce platform needs to look at their CX to find the gaps in your customer experience. Figure out how to fill those gaps in service and find ways to increase the value of your CX.
Most shoppers expect an outstanding shopping experience with e-commerce businesses. They expect a lot, and they demand a smooth transaction. Even if your organization is not an e-commerce business, this is what your customers expect.
3. The customer is always right.
You know the reasoning behind this best practice, but you’re also responsible to your employees. There must be a happy medium between satisfying a customer and supporting your staff. If you push your staff to deny certain transactions and then management swoops in and takes care of the problem, you’ve just thrown your employee under the bus. You’ve set your employees up with an impossible situation that most often results in them looking like Scrooge when you come in and save the day.
You can’t have a favorable customer experience without satisfied and protected employees. Don’t make your front-line staff the “bad guys” in a “good guy / bad guy” interaction. It’s not only unfair, but your customer will lose confidence in your staff.
4. Taking a holistic look at CX.
While it’s great to view your overall CX to see the hiccups and other dissatisfactions, you’re better off looking at the basics of each transaction. Researching the basics with your employees can help you find where and how the interaction breaks down. It’s the details that make or break a sale, regardless of your industry.
Don’t forget the basics like employee and customer involvement in figuring out a problem. If you don’t empower your front-line staff to help customers achieve satisfaction, achievement, or success, then you’ve probably lost that customer from the start. Make sure your front-line staff know how to best handle customer complaints or dissatisfaction so they can handle your customer’s problems up front with a single person. When you call in management, your customer and employee feel diminished, and the dissatisfaction grows.
Even if your customer gets what he or she wanted in the end, they’ll remember the hassle they went through to get that solution. And they’ll avoid your business in the future.
5. Customer satisfaction is based on customer experience.
We push our employees, co-workers, management, and other to associate the customer experience with customer satisfaction. The two, however, are different measurements you must attend to. For example, when a customer is satisfied, they’ve just hit the ball out of the park. Their customer experience, however, may have gone through some walks or strike-outs until they got to the home run.
Think about CX and satisfaction in terms of a batter in baseball. Satisfaction relates to the end of a transaction, or when you knock one out of the park. The CX is more about how you swing and hit better.
You must understand how and why your customers are happy, not just that they’re happy. Satisfaction doesn’t connect with future behavior. You need to understand how and why people are satisfied and what their CX was like. It’s best to survey and ask their honest opinions.
6. Automate your CX to provide faster responses.
Don’t get us wrong—automation helps you respond to customers faster than expected. What we’re trying to point out is that automation is not CX; it’s a fill-in until the customer finds what they’re looking for or they end up in customer service with a rep on the line.
Chat bots and other artificial intelligence and automation practices help you respond immediately, but they’re not what some customers are looking for. The longer you drag out your automated responses, the more frustrated some customers will get. Find the happy medium between narrowing down your customer questions with chat bots and AI and getting in touch with them personally to help them solve their problems.
Finally, don’t take customer representatives out of your customer experience. Give customers the option of talking directly with a customer service rep to help them solve problems. And give your employees the authority to take care of customer issues up front and right away. Don’t make employees and customers jump through hoops. Without all those hoops, you’ll have a much higher customer satisfaction rating and a better customer experience—both of which help you keep customers and create raving fans.