So recently I’m talking to a group of small business owners about customer touch points and improving the customer’s experience. It caused confusion (and a little exasperation)! We do the best customer service we can, they say. But is it enough? I thought I’d take this week’s post to explore the issue.
Thinking about your customer’s experience of your business helps you see where you point of difference in the marketplace could be, and of course, let’s you plug any gaps. It’s more than good customer service, it’s about making sure your customer feel special at every point of contact with you.
According to IPSOS, when you are mapping your Ideal Customer Experience, you are asking the following questions:
- What do we need to do to break the customer experience “flat line”?
- How we do provide a differentiated experience?
- How can we bring ‘the customer’ into our quality improvement efforts?
- What points in the customer experience are the most pivotal?
- How can we weave our brand images, emotions, and strategy into experiences?
So what do customers want from the businesses they use?
In May this year, Customer experience research agency and consultancy, Nunwood, released its Customer Experience Excellence (CEE) study for the first time in Australia. They found that Australians are looking for ‘value’. But this isn’t just about the price the customer pays, but also in the time and efficiency spent engaging with the company.
There is also a sense of a ‘fair go’ with all of the companies that ranked highly, the companies that were perceived to be treating the consumer with respect and to be charging a fair price for a fair product were rewarded with high levels of customer satisfaction.
“What’s really different and interesting about Australian consumers is that they are really empathetic to businesses. They are all about balancing what they want and need with what is reasonable for a business to deliver for the best price. It’s really interesting,” says Thomas.
Respondents ranked Singapore Air and Air New Zealand as tops for a great customer experience. It’s unsual for airlines to be ranked so highly but Australians seem to appreciate the combination of attentive staff, the latest in-flight entertainment, comfort and price. And as the survey says:
But companies have also developed their offer with a tone of voice and a personality, which is clearly defined and easy to identify with.
So how do town centres and small businesses develop compelling customer experiences? When the Havard Business Review is publishing articles like: New Research: You’re Doing Customer Experience Innovation Wrong, you know it’s going to be tricky!
But here’s some things you can look at:
- Customers want service. How does you customer spend a typical day? How can you help them get through that day more easily? For example, a local newsagent could supply magazines to the local doctor’s suites or other waiting rooms, a coffee shop could offer an ordering or delivery service. A local fruit and veg store could have a ‘quick meals’ section for easy dinner decisions. What are your customer’s frustrations and how can you assist?
- Customers respond to brands. What are ways can you build your brand into what you do? Your brand isn’t just a logo, it’s your businesses personality. Are their things you could do with packaging your goods like adding a postcard about who you are that add to your brand? Remember all the ways you can communicate with your customer – newsletters, facebook, in person, through your website – how can you make these distinct?
- Australians want to buy Australian. It’s true! Who owns your business and how can you tell people about it? If it means spending more money, they will, they just need to know why that’s important and feel connected to you, so let them be clear about your business and your area and why it needs supporting.
- Customers like competition. Even if it’s only with themselves. Bargain hunting can be a serious sport, but so can finding a gem. Can you make hunting for the next best experience worth their while? Are their ways you could turn shopping into a game? Think about how museums and other attractions engage children in learning with ‘make it yourself’, ‘hear from the zookeeper’, ‘lift the flap to learn more’ type experience to make things interesting. Could your main street make shopping a visitor attraction?
And then of course, customers also want what’s new and different. So just when you have an incredible experience sorted, it’ll be time to revisit it! But, this is what makes being in small business so much fun!
Again, we are here to help. With our destination marketing, tourism and retail experience so can plan your next great customer experience with you.
Reviewed your customer experiences lately? Found out anything interesting?