Customer experience management is key, though challenging for online businesses. Here's how to provide personalized customer service to online consumers.
In today's digital world, many businesses exist solely online, even if they sell a physical product. This arrangement is beneficial in many ways: It facilitates convenience for both consumers and businesses, allowing consumers across the country (and possibly even the world) to have access to a company's goods and services. For businesses, it gives them access to new markets and customers.
How can you, as an online brand, ensure you offer a customized approach to customer service? In this article, you'll learn everything you need to know about offering a good customer experience without having a physical store.
What is customer experience management?
Customer experience management (CEM) is about developing a deep understanding of your customers so you can cultivate personalized experiences for them. By delivering customized interactions, you'll build trust and loyalty between you and your consumers, helping you retain existing customers and recruit new ones.
Good CEM strengthens brand loyalty, boosts revenue, improves customer loyalty and lowers costs for your business by reducing customer churn. This is not an area of business you can afford to neglect.
How is customer experience different from customer service?
When you think of customer experience, you might immediately associate it with customer service. However, customer experience goes well beyond customer service.
Technology allows businesses to better cultivate personalized experiences and interactions with customers. For instance, by using CRM (customer relationship management) software, companies can view a customer's purchase history and, in turn, predict their future needs. From there, they can offer related products, create and deliver targeted email marketing campaigns, and understand each customer perspective.
While good customer service efforts, like answering emails promptly and offering support through phone calls, improve the customer experience, it's a small part of the bigger picture. CRM software allows brands to assist customers throughout the purchasing process.
Why does customer experience matter?
When you provide a unique customer experience, consumers know they are not just another number for your business – they matter – and as a result, they become as excited about your brand as you are. In other words, your customer experience can convert customers into brand advocates who are passionate about your products/services, essentially offering you free advertising.
Additionally, a study by American Express found that 60% of participants were willing to spend more on goods and services that offered a better customer experience. It comes down to quality over quantity; rather than investing time and energy into providing more, focus on providing better.
Acquire.io also noted that there's a major disconnect between many businesses and their customers. Research by Bain & Company revealed that 80% of companies believed their customer experience was great, while only 8% of customers agreed. If you're not on the same page as your customers, you'll lose their loyalty and sales.
The customer experience and online businesses
For online businesses, delivering an impactful customer experience can be difficult to say the least. One of the best ways online businesses can create a strong impression on their customers is by improving the shipping and sending experience. Sending is an expansion of your brand, and it's important to get right.
One way many businesses fail in the shipping process is notifying customers when a package is expected to be delivered. Using tools like SendPro Online allows business owners to track and identify any problems during shipping so they can be proactive with their customers. While no one likes shipping delays, it presents a huge opportunity for brands to show they care about the experience and, more importantly, their customers. Alternatively, being able to communicate a timely delivery goes a long way toward building brand loyalty as well.
8 methods for improving your customer experience
When it comes to pleasing your customers, there's always room for improvement. Here are some simple, easy ways to improve your customer experience.
1. Know your customers.
Do your due diligence by researching your customers. Where do they hang out? What are their purchasing preferences? Where are your customers located? Seek to understand what it is your customers need and how you can fulfill those needs.
2. Create buyer personas.
After you collect details about your customers, create customer personas. Each persona will have its own name, gender, age, career, location, etc., so you can feel like you're working with an actual individual. This tactic will help you better connect and empathize with your customers as humans, not just sources of revenue for your business.
3. Research your competitors.
If your competitors offer a more personalized customer experience than your business, you need to step it up and understand where you are falling short. Turn to social media to understand what consumers like and dislike about your competition. Maybe they offer more opportunities for customers to provide feedback? Perhaps they take more time to personalize shipments, etc.? Research how you can capitalize on gaps in your competitors' customer relationship management and, from there, determine what works best for your brand.
4. Train your employees to satisfy customers' needs.
Make sure your entire team is on board with your customer experience strategy so your efforts are consistent and genuine. Have your employees familiarize themselves with your customer personas to better understand who they're working with and what their needs and preferences are as consumers. And make sure to proactively communicate about every stage of a transaction, from the order to the expected delivery date and a follow up on the overall experience. Your combined efforts will shine through, proving to your customers that you care.
5. Invest in artificial intelligence or machine learning.
Businesses can use AI-assisted self-service portals to automate responses to common customer queries, saving you time to focus on more complex customer service issues. AI can also transform messaging systems and contact centers by allowing you to segment your user base and personalize each accordingly. Another benefit is that you'll have access to customers' email browsing data, web pages visited and past interactions, message responses and more.
6. Track the right metrics.
Understanding your metrics helps you better tailor your customer experience. According to Acquire.io, focus on these tools:
- Net promoter score (NPS), which calculates the percentage of customers who would and wouldn't recommend your brand to others;
- Customer satisfaction score (CSAT), which explains how satisfied (or not) customers are with a recent interaction, like a purchase or customer service call;
- Customer effort score (CES), which indicates how much effort customers expend while accomplishing a task, such as filing a support request or finding a specific product.
If any of these scores are unsatisfactory, you'll know exactly where you need to make improvements, and you can begin mending them one by one.
7. Use feedback loops.
To avoid disconnects between your business and its customers, you'll want to encourage and review customer feedback. Create feedback surveys, check in with consumers after an interaction and browse social media for comments about your business.
The best time to capture feedback is immediately following a resolved customer query so you can evaluate how you handled the situation and address any negative feedback straight away – before the negative online reviews surface.
8. Reward your star members.
Your team is the backbone of your business. While you want your customers to be satisfied and to recommend your business to others, you first have to invest in your employees who are at the core of these interactions. Express your appreciation for your team members, and reward them whenever applicable. Don't let good work and effort go unnoticed.
Your customers don't just want quality products or services; they want a tailored customer experience that keeps them coming back for more. As a digital brand, it might seem difficult to forge connections with consumers. However, by investing your time and energy into getting to know your target customers on a deeper level, you are fulfilling their needs and building their trust and loyalty in you. It's a worthwhile and lucrative investment in your business as well.