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Customer interaction plays a big role in a company’s success. If a customer has a bad experience with an employee, there’s a strong possibility that the customer doesn’t come back. It’s important to make sure company values translate into positive customer interactions at all times.
What is customer experience?
Customer experience, also known as CX, is the interactions and experiences consumers have with your business or brand. Customer experience might include a digital experience on a website or smartphone, a face-to-face encounter in a retail store, or a customer service interaction over the phone.
The Harvard Business Review describes customer experience as “the sum total of how customers engage with your company and brand, not just in a snapshot in time, but throughout the entire arc of being a customer”.
What’s the difference between customer experience and customer service?
While the terms ‘customer experience’ and ‘customer service’ are sometimes used interchangeably, they don’t mean the same thing.
Customer service is generally a person-to-person interaction, whether you’re helping a customer to choose the right product instore or dealing with a product complaint or warranty issue via phone or email.
Customer experience encompasses the customer service interactions mentioned above, but also includes aspects like the usability of your website, your social media presence, the performance of your delivery partners and more.
Why is customer experience so important?
Everything you do – or don’t do – has an impact on a consumer’s perception of your brand. CX isn’t just about direct interactions customers have with your brand – positive or negative word of mouth, an Instagram post that resonates, or your commitment to share a percentage of your profits with a charity can all contribute.
Nailing your customer experience will deliver a raft of benefits to your business:
- Happy customers spend more money
- Satisfied shoppers are more likely to become loyal customers
- Positive word of mouth will help you grow
- Customer advocates will allow you to spend less on marketing
Conversely, a poor customer experience can mean:
- Shoppers decide not to buy from you
- Dissatisfied customers tell family and friends about their experience
- Negative reviews on your website, social media accounts or Google listing
- A customer won’t ever do business with your company again
How can my business deliver a great customer experience?
A great customer experience doesn’t happen by accident. Companies that consistently deliver an exceptional customer experience are able to do so because they have a clear CX vision supported by a defined customer experience strategy.
These businesses put their customers at the centre of everything they do. They’re clear on the experience they want to deliver, take the time to understand customer needs and pain points, and examine the typical customer journey and touchpoints to assess whether the reality lines up with their customer experience vision.
The following steps will help you to create a better customer experience:
1. Define your customer experience vision
The first step to developing an effective customer experience strategy is defining the customer experience you aspire to deliver. What are your company’s values? What do you want to be known for? How are you different from your competitors? Consider whether your customer experience reflects these goals at all touchpoints.
If you aspire to be regarded as a premium brand, does everything from your company name and logo to your website, point of sale experience and customer service approach reflect this? Think about how you want consumers to feel when they visit your website or Instagram page, walk into your store or speak to an employee over the phone.
2. Understand your customers
Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Why are they buying your product or service? What are their expectations when it comes to pricing, quality and delivery? A quality POS system like Square for Retail will allow you to capture valuable customer insights, create customer profiles and loyalty programs, and build customer relationships that turn once-off shoppers into regulars.
3. Map the customer journey
A customer’s first impression of your brand isn’t necessarily when they walk in-store or visit your website. If you haven’t already, create a customer journey map that plots the typical paths that customers take when engaging with your business and identify any problem areas.
If a social media enquiry often leads to a website purchase, is this cross-platform experience seamless or clunky? You should aim to provide a consistent customer experience regardless of which area or department your customers engage with. A sensational online shopping experience can be tarnished if product fulfilment is slow or after-sales customer care is lacking.
4. Capture customer feedback
It goes without saying that without feedback, it’s tough to know whether the customer experience you’re delivering is satisfying customers. Capturing customer feedback in real-time will enable you to create the best possible customer experience – tools like Square Feedback allow customers to leave feedback through their digital receipt, giving you valuable feedback immediately following their transaction with you.
Whether they’re raving about their experience or flag an issue they’ve had with a particular product or employee, Square Feedback allows you to collect and analyse feedback to optimise your customer experience. It lets you resolve issues privately by processing refunds or sending coupons to customers who have had a negative experience, backed by rich customer insights.
In a competitive marketplace, the customer experience you deliver can be a key differentiator for your business. It’s one of the main factors that determines whether customers will buy from your brand, say positive things about your business and become loyal to your company.
To create a standout customer experience, you must truly understand your customers and the way they engage with your business, and regularly seek their feedback on their dealings with your brand. A strong customer experience strategy isn’t a static thing – it should be tweaked and improved based on changing customer expectations, emerging technologies and trusted analytics and reporting.
Square’s leading point of sale solutions have been created to support businesses to deliver a great customer experience every time. Learn more about optimising your customer experience with Square’s point of sale on the [Square website] (https://squareup.com/au/en/point-of-sale “Square POS”).