What makes a happy customer?
It’s pretty easy to rule out aggressive sales pitches, self-indulgent blog posts, and poor customer service.
Most businesses know this, and seek to – at the very least – be responsive to the needs of their patrons through good customer service.
In fact, in an informal survey 10 out of 10 business owners stated they provide great customer service.
OK – I made that up. But you get the point.
What many aren’t aware of, however, is that good customer service is merely one piece of the puzzle that makes for an exceptional experience.
People have grown accustomed to good customer service – it’s expected. But a holistic customer experience can still impress and foster long-term, positive relationships.
But what exactly is customer experience and how does it differ from mere service?
Customer Experience, and How It Differs from Customer Service
A lot of businesses try to establish a great customer experience, but fewer than you’d think are successful.
Building a remarkable customer experience requires a holistic approach that some businesses have neither the wherewithal nor the inclination, to pursue. Customer experience is part of an overall marketing strategy.
The major difference between a customer’s service and their experience comes down to what stage of your relationship they occur.
Customer service is largely reactive – a customer has an issue, question, or concern, and they contact your business with an inquiry. You or your staff work to help the customer and provide them with satisfactory service.
Customer service is part of the experience. Inevitably, there may be an unforeseeable problem that only your team can solve after contact. Being there with effective support is essential. Yet, it’s only one part of the overall experience your customers have, and how they will perceive your business.
But to achieve truly exceptional customer experience, your business must be proactive. The content you produce, the ease of use of your site, engaging emails – all of this comes into play before a customer engages your business and begins their buying process.
Here are a few ideas on how you can set your business apart from the competition:
Strike the Right Tone With your Sales and Marketing Material
All of your content, from blog posts to sales emails should strive towards one goal – helping your prospects and customers.
Of course, you believe your product or service is going to provide value to your customers. However, it’s important that you gain their trust first.
When you create content, your goal should be informing, educate, and engage your audience. Customers who feel they have been adequately educated develop positive feelings. If they detect an ulterior motive – like a sly sales pitch – they’ll be reluctant to continue their journey.
Your sales emails and other outreach methods should follow similar guidelines. You should seek to establish a relationship through a friendly, casual tone, and focus on how your business will benefit the customer. Stay away from tooting your own horn – no one likes a “me, me, me” mentality.
Create Confidence with Tree Trials and Money Back Guarantees
We all believe our product and/or service are great and make a dramatic difference in the lives of our customers. Why else would we try so hard to introduce our solutions to the market?
If you’re proud of what your business offers, then letting your customers try your product or service before they commit to buying is an essential part of developing a great customer experience.
Not only does this bring in more passive customers who may not otherwise have gone through the sales process, but it also displays a confidence in your own product. Allowing customers to experience what you offer with no hard financial commitment will build a positive feeling with you soon-to-be customer.
You might feel confident enough to offer a free trial, but are you confident enough to offer a money-back guarantee?
Once again – you should be.
If your product or service is worth selling, it’s worth giving your customers the peace of mind a money-back guarantee offers.
Evidence suggests that even though you make this offer, it is something that customers take advantage of. Well, at least a small minority might. But it’s especially unlikely if you are targeting your ideal customers and are pairing your guarantee with a free trial.
Why? Because they’ll already have gotten a feel for what your business offers, and they’ll know whether they like it enough to proceed.
All a money back guarantee really offers is a security blanket for your customers. It shows a deep confidence in what you’re selling, and that confidence extends to the buyer’s experience.
Distinguish Your Brand with Great Company Culture
A lot of major companies are attempting to change the way company culture is viewed. Their focus on the subject of culture is also important to your business.
We’ve all seen the stories about big companies like Google who have gone the way of table tennis and beanbag chairs. That may work for their environment and staff, but while that sense of “cool” may not work for your business, you can define your culture in other ways.
One immediate example is the way your staff feels about your business. In fact, the way your employees experience your business will have a major impact on the experience they provide your customers. It is a well-known fact that there is a direct correlation between your employees’ positive experience and your customers’.
Make sure to routinely check with employees to see how your culture can be inclusive and positivity-driven. You can also proactively communicate expectations and highlight opportunities to deliver value to your prospects and customers.
Staff who trained and expected to provide positive experiences to your customers become great ambassadors and will be able to support the brand you are building.
When developing a cultural identity for your business, ensure that employees are extremely dedicated to providing an exceptional customer journey. Any of your staff who will deal with customers directly should be examples of what your company and brand stands for – and delivers.
The experience your customers have while engaging with your brand will define their relationship now, and down the road.
An amazing customer experience means more than just providing great customer service, although that remains essential.
Creating a great experience means taking a proactive approach to ensuring your customers have access to tools and information to address potential issues before they even arise (necessitating a call into your customer service reps.)
By developing an approachable tone to your content, developing trust with free trials and money-back offers, and creating a great company culture, you’ll foster amazing customer experiences that will make them lifelong brand evangelists.
The Duct Tape Marketing Hourglass provides a solid roadmap and framework for building exceptional customer experiences.
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