Customer Experience News & Trends

6 ways to deliver outstanding experiences — online and in person

Customers’ reach is far, wide and fast, so it’s more important than ever to give them good stories to share.

Social media has given customers a platform to tell friends, family and well beyond how great — and bad — you are at customer service. Unfortunately, it’s the poor service experiences that tend to travel farthest, widest and fastest: About 75% of customers say they’d share bad experiences with friends, family and colleagues, a Colloquy survey found.

But that’s no reason to give up on good word-of-mouth. In fact, more than 40% of customers say they’d share a good experience and/or product or service they like with friends and family members.

“The bottom line: Businesses with a reputation for treating their customers with great levels of service are noticed and usually rewarded,” said Benoit Gruber, VP of corporate communication at Sage Enterprise Market Europe

These six ideas — three for in-person or over-the-phone experiences and three for online experiences — will help:

1. Go above and beyond

Customers’ expectations for a customer service encounter aren’t unreasonable: easy access, expert advice and timeliness. Anything beyond that is a bonus — the kind of bonuses they talk about.

For instance, a U.K-based John Lewis Store stayed open during a blizzard so stranded customers had a place to stay. They gave more than 100 customers a spot to sleep, warm blankets and hot drinks.

The key: Look for, identify and meet an unsaid need.

 2. Add value to your community

Your products and services are already valuable to your customers. Making your company and its employees valuable in the community can help you build on an existing good reputation, Gruber suggested.

For instance, Chick-fil-A worked with the South Carolina Highway Patrol to give awards to drivers wearing seatbelts.

The key: Partner with an outside organization to do good in your community — not just for your customers.

3. Reward, don’t punish

Many companies offer discounts and coupons to new customers. Sometimes those can feel like punishments to existing customers — say, if you’re a long-time customer and aren’t eligible for a new-customer promotion.

The key: Make it special to do business with you. If you offer something special, give everyone the opportunity to take advantage of it.

And for online experiences ….

4. Make it personal

For all the ways you can engage customers when in-person or on the phone, there are some ways to make their experiences special online, too.

For instance, Bass Pro shops made online experiences more engaging by having each location manage its own webpage. That way, employees who are also outdoor enthusiasts like their customers, can share personal, localized tips and videos.

The key: Allow and help employees connect directly with customers.

5. Deliver on preferences

Many online companies ask customers to sign up for communications, and then they send mass messages. Few tailor their messages and rewards to customers’ preferences — which would a lot to the online relationship, said Ernan Ronan, president of ERDM, a VoC research organization.

Caribou Coffee does it well, though: They give customers the opportunity to create a profile when they sign up for communication. From there, Caribou sends customers rewards tailored to their likings in the channel they prefer.

The key: Ask customers during the sign-up phase for a few things they like. Then tailor messages to those few things.

6. Reach out

Many online purchases — and experiences — are one-and-done. Opportunities are often lost to wow customers after the delivery’s been made.

At MyCorporation, the online experience takes a more personal turn after delivery. Shortly after the anticipated delivery, reps call customers to find if:

  • their product was received
  • they understood everything enclosed in the package
  • they could answer any additional questions, and
  • there was anything that they could’ve done to make the experience better.

Granted, many times, customers don’t answer — but they’re wowed when they hear the message.

The key: A personal touch after the experience can build loyalty. For, it helped renewal rates jump 20 percentage points within five years.

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