The modern digital environment is helping to bring the world together in ways that were never possible in the past. The ability to reach customers internationally has created unprecedented opportunities in the world of business, but these new communication channels also force businesses to compete more fiercely against a broad range of alternative providers.
One of the best ways to stand out against competitors is to improve the experiences that you provide for your customers. Today, most customer experiences happen online as customers visit websites to make digital purchases online and to gather information as part of the buying process. The experiences that you provide customers throughout the buying process influence not only the revenue that you receive from initial sales but also the long-term revenue realized when customers become loyal and refer other people to your business.
Improving customer experience is a long-term effort that must be done across a broad range of touchpoints, including your website, social media channels, retail establishments, and interactions with customer support representatives. Read on to learn how you can provide exceptional customer experiences that will help to make your business stand out against your competitors.
What is customer experience?
Customer experience is the sentiment that customers derive from interacting with your business. The full range of interactions that customers have with your brand throughout the buying process is considered to be part of customer experience.
In the stages before a purchase is made, the quality of the content that you provide, the usability of your website, and interactions with sales associates are usually the main determining factors of customer experience. Additionally, the actual transaction itself can influence experience. Customer experience is also determined by the satisfaction or dissatisfaction that customers have after purchasing and how your company reacts to requests for customer support.
Once customers have gone through the entire buying process, they will form a final opinion of how they perceive their experience with your brand. If their experience is positive, they are likely to return again in the future or to refer their friends. Customer experience also has an enormous influence on the quality of online reviews that customers leave for your business.
Customer experience vs. customer service
There is a widespread mistaken belief that customer experience is synonymous with customer service. In today’s world, customer service is just one small part of customer experience. Today’s buyers expect to have positive experiences at every touchpoint because they can easily switch to another provider with a simple online search. Therefore, you need to provide exceptional information about your offerings online, offer in-person assistance at every touchpoint, and engage through digital channels in ways that lead to positive experiences for your customers.
Importance of exceptional customer experiences online
The digital world has a major influence on perceptions of customer experience because online information is always available and used by nearly all of today’s customers. Studies have shown that 92 percent of consumers will stop considering a brand if they have at least two negative experiences. If customers have a hard time finding the information they are seeking on a provider’s website or experience problems with website performance issues, many of them will begin to immediately consider competitors. Likewise, some consumers will even stop considering brands when they encounter ads that they disagree with or feel as though a company’s autoresponder is spamming their inbox.
To provide optimal experiences online, you first need to start with a great website that is effortless to navigate and gives easy access to the information customers are seeking. Businesses then need to build useful and relevant content that provides real answers to what customers are attempting to learn about. When businesses need to directly interact with their customers, these interactions should always be positive in nature. Finally, businesses need to follow up by offering to resolve problems that customers experience and by offering compelling incentives for customers to return.
Using customer experience throughout the customer lifecycle
Customer experience optimization is a proven strategy to bring in more customers and get them to buy. However, the vast majority of sales come from efforts that are made after a sale is completed.
Customer experience efforts should ultimately seek to get customers to return to buy more in the future. When customers have a positive experience after making an initial purchase from your business, they are almost certain to return again in the future when they have a need for similar solutions. Additionally, these same customers are likely to refer your business to other people who are facing similar problems.
You should also seek to optimize experiences throughout the entire customer lifecycle. A positive initial buying experience should be only the first experience in a long chain of experiences that drive long-term loyalty. Try to improve communication by getting your customers to subscribe to your autoresponder, and reciprocate by offering content that is highly relevant and useful in return. Customers will then keep your brand in mind, and they will return for similar experiences in the future.
Delivering exceptional customer experiences
Making buyers satisfied with their experiences with your brand is an endeavor that takes time. If you want to improve customer experience in your company, start by listening to your customers closely and by thoroughly evaluating your existing efforts. You can then find the most important pain points that need to be addressed and implement changes that will enhance how customers perceive your brand. By using customer experience properly, you can make customers more likely to buy from your brand while driving long-term loyalty that will increase customer lifetime value.