Expert insights into Customer Experience
Being a customer is primarily defined with the consumption of services and goods, but it can also be a state of mind. We know well how it feels to be a customer almost every day - when we buy our groceries, pay our bills, or buy a present for a friend. Our question is, do you stop being the customer as soon as you leave the shop? Possibly. It’s not over as soon as you walk out of the shop or close your browser tab. An outstanding customer experience process, we believe, doesn’t ever stop.
Customer-first is a strategy easily recognized as part of what successful companies do. However, some experts suggest that when companies focus too much on their primary goal, problems occur. We tried to put some clues together that explain where the customer fits in the big scheme.
We think that customer experience depends mostly on the people directly involved in the process of creating it - the crew of experts that make it all happen. An optimal business strategy model should include a team that clearly understands their role in the collective effort toward a common goal.
A healthy business is a lot like a healthy community where neighbors know each other well and don’t hesitate to be of help, recognizing the benefits of collective effort. A team able to bring excellent customer experience must include shared values and vast potential for collaboration. Collaborating teammates work about 15% faster.
Being friendly and positive helps you maintain an honest relationship with your client. And that approach should also hit your company internally - with your employees. Outstanding customer experience comes when everyone involved in the process feels like part of a family.
Most great companies owe their image to the teams of people who represent it. Before aiming actual clients, be aware that your first clients are your employees. When the mutual respect shared between you and your team, it will naturally also extend towards your partners and clients.
Clients can quickly evaluate your business through the way you treat employees and people in general. For example, if your support agent sounds vague and has the interpersonal skills of a chatbot, customers are immediately aware, and their opinion of this agent becomes their opinion about the whole company. An excellent experience for a customer starts with them being aware they are part of something special.
Good CX is like excellent communication. With less noise and more reliability, the right message travels smoothly from its source and reaches the receiver. To reduce the noise in Customer Experience, instant feedback as a service is the necessary communication channels between you and your client. As a provider and creator of experiences, you should always listen to what your customers have to say. Getting better at this means not only many changes are due, but many changes in the right direction.
Feedback is the gateway for happy and loyal customers. When clients have anything to say about your business, you need to absorb it with the utmost respect. Customer feedback is a unique third-person view of your business that helps you stay relevant by constantly improving.
What about negative feedback? Every time your clients have reasons to complain, use this as a piece of free consultation. Negative feedback usually confirms something is wrong, and that maybe it could have been prevented by more preliminary testing and QA. When it comes to feedback, negative is always more critical to examine than positive, mostly due to the power of the negativity bias.
Obstacles that undermine the client’s journey in any way should be eradicated before they become an unwanted part of it. Each time a consumer notices a bug and reports it, they have already wasted their time to indicate somebody else’s mistakes that should not have been there.
Both negative and positive feedbacks are incredibly valuable for improved customer experience, as they indicate things directly related to how clients perceive your company and the quality of experiences it represents.
If you are running an online shop, remember that most clients are tech-savvy and not hesitant to use their skills and knowledge to fix problems they can tackle themselves. It’s best to provide the technology that enables customers to solve their problems proactively. A surprisingly high number of people will gladly approach a technical issue with a minimum external aid, and you need to understand that trend and facilitate it. Be there for your clients when they need you, but learn not to impose on them when they don’t.
Automation and AI
Automated services attach precision and efficiency to the customer’s journey and liberate the whole process from the ever-present shadow of human error. However, working toward reducing man-made mistakes through the use of AI comes at a price. Too much automation can lead to frustration and dissatisfaction among users. For example, some clients may feel underappreciated when they expect to talk to a person, and instead, they meet with a robot.
The intensity of automation in the purchase process creates a delicate balance that necessitates timely maintenance and strategic evaluation from the provider side. As a service provider, you need to consider all options through available technologies and how they could be combined for a maximum effect.
Automation is a direct counter to human error, which is a tremendous contributor to lousy customer experience. AI, when used effectively, enhances the experience of clients, providers, and vendors. The ultimate Customer Experience should positively affect everyone involved. With the right AI tools, your human workforce can focus on the clients and stop being a potential source for unforced mistakes.
Looking through the eyes of your clients opens new ways of perceiving the real value of your business offers. What part of the process requires human intervention? First, by selecting AI for a task, you automatically make a statement that your human power is needed elsewhere. Maybe it is, but does your client also think so? Through incorrect automation, your clients and employees might feel ignored, disrespected, or even betrayed.
On the other hand, placing the person to handle a job better suited for an AI, would create unnecessary strain. For any problem-solving tasks, choosing between human and AI as a mediator is always a big question, and the answer lies beyond statistics. Even with the best technology, customer experience is not easy. We think that there are no shortcuts in reaching it.
There are some ways that you can unintentionally ruin the image of your brand: Aggressive sales strategies or desperate attempts to become more cost-efficient. For example, an online chatbot on the home page may seem like a modest add-on that welcomes first-time visitors (a very unpractical task for a real person). A greeting robot on the home page is the first point of contact between the company and its future clients. Some of them will appreciate that, but will most?
Even with the best greeting AI, the option for human contact should always be around the corner. Technology should be used to facilitate, but not to replace. Human connection is, after all, the expected follow-up action immediately after any initial automated messages. Even though we are deep in the digital age, almost all humans presently prefer to interact with other human beings. This trend makes sense since the company’s perception by the client would feel less authentic through AI interaction. Experts advise us that technologies are not here to be put into action immediately after they become available. If we don’t have a multi-angle perspective of how they affect everyone affected, we are better off with an alternative solution.
Relationships with customers can be a complicated two-player game of patience. Be a listener, use multiple channels for incoming feedback, and respect customers’ preferences by using the communication method they prefer.
Using soft skills with your clients can be incredibly beneficial. For example, by being an active listener, you can be in a position that allows you to explain the benefits of your services through analogy - something that would be impossible without proactively getting to know them better.