Word of mouth is an incredibly powerful tool when it comes to growing your customer base. In fact, Convince & Convert Consulting found that 83% of Americans are more likely to purchase a product or service from a company if they’ve received a recommendation from a friend or family member.
But gaining new customers isn’t the only avenue for continued growth and success—you also need to retain your existing customers. Studies show that it costs five times more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing customer, which has caused businesses to shift strategies to focus on customer experience management.
What is Customer Experience Management?
Gartner defines customer experience management as “the practice of designing and reacting to customer interactions to meet or exceed their expectations, leading to greater customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy.”
In other words, customer expectations are rising and if your company does not meet these demands (on both the customer service and user experience fronts), your prospects and customers will look elsewhere to find solutions to their problems.
This means that companies need to look inward and determine the ‘why’ behind a customer or prospect’s feelings at any given stage of the customer journey (because this journey does not stop once the initial sale is made).
With the right strategies to improve customer experience in place, your company has the opportunity to not only upsell existing customers and increase the average lifetime value of a customer but turn these existing customers into evangelists for your business.
What Makes a Great Customer Experience?
Know Your Targets
Every company is different—and so are the needs of your prospects and customers. In order to truly understand where to focus your customer experience management strategy, you must first define who your customers and prospects really are (this is also known as creating buyer personas).
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What is their job title?
- What are their typical demographics?
- What are their typical psychographics?
- What are their goals in their job?
- What are their pain points?
- What is a typical interaction that a person like this has with your organization?
Once your buyer personas have been identified, you’ll be able to update your marketing strategies to get the right information to this select group of people at the right place and at the right time.
People Buy From People
Your employees are another piece of the customer experience management puzzle.
It’s been found that 76% of customers are more likely to recommend a brand that they’ve had a friendly interaction with compared to the 82% of customers who would not recommend a brand after a negative interaction.
Get the customer-facing members of your team on the same page about the following:
- How to connect with customers on a deeper level
- What your standards are for written and verbal communication
- What your expected response time is for customer inquiries
These conversations will help ensure that your customers are getting the same experience across the different levels of your organization, regardless of whom they happen to talk to.
Make Data-Driven Decisions
The easiest way to know what your customers want is to ask them directly.
Chances are your customers want to tell you about their experience with your business but aren’t sure of the best route to do so. Start sending your customers satisfaction surveys throughout the different stages of their customer journeys.
Whether it’s positive or negative feedback—take it seriously. Reach out to the customer post-survey and discuss your findings with them. This will make them feel as though you’ve listened to them and that you care about them, improving your overall relationship.
Better relationships built through a strong customer experience management strategy result in the following:
- Improved customer loyalty
- Boosted revenue from customer upselling
- Increased sales from word of mouth (thanks to your existing customer evangelists)
- Higher profits due to increased revenue and lower customer turnover
At the end of the day, there is no magic formula for what makes a great customer experience. It’s all about leveraging the data you receive from your customers and continuing to build brand loyalty through honest, open and friendly experiences.