The Sunday Mail
As time turns the page, corporates excelling in customer experience will never see their businesses age!
A cry, a tear, a laugh and a smile sums up all the emotions we have felt at a certain time in our different lives as customers … we all have different customer service encounters to share.
Some of these encounters will forever stick in our minds for the rest of our lives and will probably carry them to the grave. If given a chance to share our great moments with certain organisations we will not stop talking about some of them and we will gladly want to share these experiences over and over again.
Some are, however, not so great that we just want to bury them deep under and forget about them because they tear our hearts. All these encounters, both positive and negative, make up what is called customer experience.
What is customer experience in customer service? Forbes defines customer experience as the perception that a customer has of a brand. Customer service is the way in which customers are treated in three different scenarios: before they visit an organisation, when they visit the organisation and when they leave the organisation.
Whatever treatment the customer gets during these three scenarios or encounters, form part of the customer experience.
Customers with positive customer experience will call again, recommend and refer others. This means more revenue streaming into the company coffers.
On the other hand, a negative experience may leave the customer full of regret, frustrated, angry and annoyed. Such experiences, when shared, may push away current and potential customers, dent the brand as well as reducing the organisation’s bottom line.
Loyal customers are a result of consistent positive encounters with an organisation that make up great customer experience. Their loyalty will add revenue, sustain business growth and recruit new customers.
Any activity undertaken by the organisation which has a direct impact on the consumer is of great value as it aids in formulating the customer experience journey and these include the physical environment of the organisation, ambience, quality of staff and products.
The most outstanding encounters are those that a customer has with the product and employees. If it is a product or service, its performance must meet or surpass the expectations of the customer as this will help in building a positive customer experience album.
Employees that are gladly at their customers’ service do not only delight their paymasters but are rest assured that their excellent customer service is a kind investment act that will call again customers on behalf of the organisation.
Yes, it is investing in kind, because those delighted customer will promote the organisation brands through referrals and word of mouth at no cost. It is with no doubt that everyone relies more on word of mouth than any other marketing tool, hence it carries so much weight in either marketing a brand or in killing it.
It is in the best interest of an organisation to ensure that customers that make a decision to buy from them must be treated in such a way that they will truthfully spread a word on the kind of service the organisation offers to customers.
Customer experience tend to change with every interaction making it very fragile, so an organisation should always maintain a standardised customer approach. Grumpy and moody employees must never have a face-to-face interaction with customers.
The shift in bargaining power from organisations (sellers) to customers (buyers), thanks to social media and the rise of e-commerce, is driving organisations to make sure that customers have great experiences.
It is interesting to note that 86 percent more customers are willing to pay for a great customer experience, 73 percent of buyers are influenced to reach a purchase decision if they have encountered a great customer experience and 65 percent of buyers agree that advertising is less valuable than great customer experience. More so, when it comes to luxury goods it is customer experience that entice customers to pay an extra 14-18 percent.
Recent research has shown that in the near future customer experience will surpass price and product as the key brand differentiator. For instance, right here in Zimbabwe some customers will never set foot in Mbare Musika to buy cheap farm produce because of the bad experience that they either encountered or have heard from a third party.
In their mental map, what good does it do to go back home with a sack of cheap potatoes but without your expensive iPhone because it would have been stolen?
Such thoughts transcend the fact that Mbare market is a haven of cheap fresh farm produce but rather a home to thieves and conmen. Customers, therefore, weigh the risks involved when buying directly at Mbare compared to supermarkets.
Most customers will prefer to pay the extra dollar in a supermarket to buy the very same products found in Mbare Msika because the experience is less traumatic. So no matter how low the price could be or excellent the product is, if the customer experience of acquiring the product or service is wacky, it will not work. Simple!
Therefore, organisations must know that an attack on their brands is an attack on their customers and may result in a fallout that is detrimental to both the business and brand. Hence, it is noble to put more effort in offering consistent quality products or service with a dedicated and courteous team.
A positive customer experience will not only bring smiles to the customers but can make them brand advocates who will promote it at no cost.
Finally, always remember first impressions are the most lasting!
Cresencia Marjorie Chiremba, is a marketing enthusiast with a strong passion for customer service. For comments and suggestions she can be reached on [email protected] or on 0712 979 461.