In an article for Computer Weekly titled Efficiency to Empathy: Customer Experience in Cost-of-Living Crisis, Madeline Bennet encourages urgent action to improve customer experiences. Madeline writes:
A recent survey of 2,000 shoppers from customer engagement software and services supplier Verint highlights the importance of customer experience (CX) for how businesses will fare during this downturn. After having an excellent customer experience, 88% of shoppers are likely to make a repeat purchase, while 82% are likely to recommend the brand to friends or family. However, 62% of shoppers are unlikely to make a repeat purchase if a customer service issue isn’t resolved in a single attempt, while 57% cite the inability to communicate on their channel of choice as a reason for ditching that brand.
The Verint research cited by Madeline (and similar data from the SaaS company, Zendesk) emphasizes the increased importance of customer experience during periods of inflation. These results also offer insights into what needs to be done to engage customers during these challenging times. Specifically, these studies pinpoint three objectives for achieving success:
First-time problem resolution – Make sure a customer’s needs are addressed correctly the first time. “Don’t make me reach out to you again.”
Channel Choice – Give the customer the choice of how they want to engage with you. “Meet me where I am, don’t make me do it your way.”
Operational Efficiency – Keep the price down by running your business efficiently. “Provide me the best products and services and do more with less.”
So, let’s look at a few tips for achieving these objectives for every customer, every time:
1. Create a Culture of Agile Innovation
From early in the pandemic, research/consulting firm McKinsey found those organizations that embraced agile cultures “responded faster to the crisis.” They also demonstrated more “speed and resilience.” They shifted from traditional organizational bureaucracy to “self-steering, high-performing teams.” More specifically, McKinsey notes that this shift to an agile culture was achieved on two fronts. First, by emphasizing and discussing “tribes, squads, chapters, scrums, and Dev Ops pipelines” and second, through people. McKinsey cautions that:
Culture, especially—is the most difficult to get right. In fact, the challenges of culture change are more than twice as common as the average of the other top five challenges.
2. Increase Product and Service Knowledge
Daniele Todaro, Group Managing Director/ CEO at OceanLED, writes, “product knowledge helps build customer trust. If customers always receive the correct information, and if the information goes above their expectations, they will likely grow trust in your brand and return to buy other products. On the other hand, wrong or imprecise information will generate doubts about how reliable your brand is, and as a consequence, the customer may not come back.”
3. Invest in Technologies that Enable Customer Choice and Ease
If you don’t invest in technology that reduces customer effort and gives customers a choice on how they want to engage with you – they will leave. According to an article for Precisely, “Frustration with disjointed engagement causes 73% of consumers to consider moving on to another brand and spend their dollars elsewhere…That sobering statistic underscores the necessity of providing a seamless, personalized experience over every channel of engagement to prevent customer frustration and, ultimately, brand abandonment.
4. Be Willing to Say “NO”
Years ago, I drafted an article with Curt Coffman (co-author of First Break All the Rules and John Timmerman (then Corporate Vice President of Operations and Quality for The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company) titled, The Risk of Excellence. The gist of that article is that you must be willing to say “NO” to things that will make you mediocre. Specific to customer experience, you must resist overreaching and be willing to limit your offerings to those products and services that you can deliver with excellence.
All of this begs the question, how are you doing with your first-time problem resolution, customer channel choice, and overall operational efficiency? That three-legged stool supports customer experience, retention, and loyalty!
Related: Have You Emerged Stronger Through Adversity? Four Evidence-based Lessons for Growth