Simplify Customer Experiences

simplify customer experiencesAre customers jumping through hoops to do business with you? If so, stop torturing them! In today’s business world, you can’t afford to make things tough on your customers.

Why? They’ll go somewhere else, leaving you at a competitive disadvantage.

Put your customers’ thoughts and feelings in the crosshairs of your decision-making and then align all you do to support more positive experiences. This kind of customer-focused decision-making is the key to building customer relationships and loyalty, not to mention a better bottom line.

I seem to go through this all the time. I call some company about a product and have to hit 50 buttons just to get my question answered. It’s excruciating! Invariably, I hang up, search the Web for another resource, and likely never reach out to that initial company again. Contacting them simply got too complicated.

Great companies get the importance of keeping things simple for their customers throughout all the touch-points of the customer experience. Whether you’re calling for information, browsing the aisles, paying online or in a store, or driving out of a parking lot, everything is seamless and efficient. Why? Anything that simplifies, saves time and yet remains a pleasant experience becomes a competitive advantage. It makes people happy — and keeps them coming back.

Here are some tips for creating simpler, better customer experiences:

Get feedback. Part of building better customer experiences is measuring loyalty drivers, says Allan Hauptfeld, president of Vantage Research + Consulting, Inc. “You find those out by surveying people in a number of ways, but in-person discussions through either focus groups or even one-on-one discussions can be particularly effective for getting qualitative information. You should also conduct regular, customer retention surveys (e.g., online, telephone or written), so you can get statistical, quantitative results. Using a combination of both the quantitative and qualitative data can help you get a good picture of what your customers are experiencing.” (For more on this, see Hauptfeld’s MAP webinar on customer loyalty.)

Involve your front-line employees in decisions. Working daily and directly with your customers, this team of employees understand them best. They know what customers like, don’t like, want and don’t want. They know what converts them from first-time to long-time customers. So regularly get their input on solutions or ideas that might strengthen and simplify customer experiences.

Evaluate your competitors. Determine what they’re doing right and what they’re doing wrong, focusing specifically on aspects that make the customer experience more stress-free. For example, if they’re making people wait in long lines, how can your business offer the shortest lines in town? If their employees are incredibly helpful, how can your business culture change to excel in that way as well?

One final note: Sometimes I think customer service is a thing of the past. With many of today’s companies, common courtesies and simplicities now cost money instead of just being included. But this is a bad model for business because it fails to appreciate, respect and validate customers, their time and their worth. The best companies today know that customers — and how they think and feel — truly matter. And they’re constantly doing what they can to keep things easy and ensure these valuable assets remain truly happy. They get that this element of “simplicity” is vital to sustainability.

How is your company making the customer experience easier?

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