Entrepreneurship is all about selling a commodity (service or product) that people want or need at a price they’re willing to pay. The experience the customer walks away represents the true value that you bring to the table. It is what will keep them coming back and have them broadcasting their experience to all of their friends, family and colleagues. Keep in mind though… event though the benefits of a positive experience can go a long way in building up a company, the backlash associated with a bad customer experience can bankrupt a company.
Building a customer base that continuously fuels your revenue engine involves more than marketing and creating awareness of your product or service. I have developed an anagram to help understand what it takes to ensure that your customer’s walk away with an incredible experience having chosen to hire or buy from you. Amazingly enough it spells SERVICE. Because that’s what its all about.
- Scalable – deliver an awesome customer experience that scales as your company grows. To do this requires that you know your customer. How do they like to get their information? Remove any obstacles that stand in the way of them making a buying decision. Make sure that your entire team understands their responsibility and role in the experience process and that they have the information they need to fulfill those responsibilities.
- Essential – Businesses have no shortage of tools for gathering predictive data on their customers to try and deliver the best possible experience. Just having the data is not enough. It needs to be applicable and customized based on the customer’s needs and desires. What are their expectations? Where do they see their journey with you going? This requires that you get out from behind the predictive tools and interact and listen.
- Relatable – When you’re in a customer service mode, you need to listen in order to clearly understand the problem your customer is experiencing. Only when you understand what your product or service is not doing from the customer’s perspective can you take steps to solve the problem to their satisfaction. Understand that every aspect of the company’s offering may not be a good fit for the customer. To try and push an un-relatable product or service onto a customer just for the sale is surely going to result in buyer’s remorse. Listen to what the customer’s needs are before trying to push a sale.
- Valuable – Intuitively, most people recognize the value of a great customer experience. Brands that deliver value are ones that the customer will want to interact with as customers — that they’ll become loyal to, and that they’ll recommend to their friends and family. Rationales for focusing on customer experience tend to be driven by moral and cultural beliefs. The problem with this is that often, whether experience is a priority or not simply becomes a battle of opinions. For this reason it is important to understand that the VALUE in customer experience is measured in both sides of the equation from the buyer’s side and the seller. Customers have always experienced products, services and brands across multiple dimensions. Today those experiences can be had 24/7 and across multiple touch points. The return on customer experience is in direct correlation to how many customer dimensions can be satisfied at any given time.
- Involved – Customer experience is a top down approach. Often times it falls to the lower-level customer service representatives. The biggest impact however comes when a manager steps in with a customer. It doesn’t take much time, but a manager who shows he or she cares about customers can make all the difference. There are several key components that can be implemented company-wide to ensure that the customer’s experience feeds the bottom line.
- Listen to employees. They are the ones that interact with the customer. They have first hand insight and need to feel that their contribution is received positively.
- Clarify roles and responsibilities. Employees clearly need to be communicated the purpose of their role and what is expected.
- Work as a Team. A sense of belonging to the team and also how well he/she gets along with other members of the team is critical. This helps in building bonding between the team members and instills a sense of ownership.
- Good Leadership. A good leader is one who not only has a vision, but also is willing to listen to his/her team member for opinions and solutions. Trust between employee and the leadership is important.
- Incentives. Hard work of employees needs to be recognized. It boosts moral and creates ownership.
- Credible – Trust is the backbone to credibility. Do what you say you’ll do when you say you’ll do it. Be consistent in your promises and product or service delivery. Provide information of value if in the service industry. Build that relationship by creating a bubble of trust. Empower employees to do their jobs and create a synergistic environment. All of these contribute to the trust relationship and customer experience.
- Expected – Customers want more! Can you deliver? That is the real question. Most would like to say that technology and the internet are what is driving customer demand. This is true, but not for the reasons most think. Consumers are becoming more educated. They’re able to do their research and make a list of expectations. If you can’t meet them there is another Tom, Dick or Harry…Harriet at the click of the mouse that will. Customers are seeking more personalization, more options, consistent interaction, to feel that they’ve been heard and that you are willing to jump through hoops to make it happen quickly.
It may sound simple enough, but companies rarely find it easy to take customer experience from strategy to execution. Many of them focus in on the wrong experience dimensions or implement them in the wrong combination. A well-considered approach is critical. As a business owner if there are expectations that you cannot meet, its time to look at increasing value somewhere else to compensate. Or you could look to collaborate and partner to increase the value of your offering and meet the expectations of the customer.
Danna is a Business Growth Strategist and CEO of MarketAtomy, LLC. Her passion is working with small first stage entrepreneurs to ensure that they start out on the right foot and stay on the path to financial freedom. Known as the Business Birthing Specialist, Danna understands the intricacies involved in starting and running a successful business. As an intricate component ingrained into her client’s business structure, she works diligently to keep her clients accountable and on track to fulfilling their success goals.
A graduate of the University of Central Florida’s College of Business, she brings more than 35 years of strategic planning experience in business, marketing and business development both nationally and internationally.
Danna is not only a professional business growth strategist, she is a public speaker and author with “MarketAtomy: What To Expect When Expecting A Business” and #1 Amazon Best Sellers “Success From The Heart” and “Journey To The Stage.”