How to create a stellar customer experience

Aja Stuart

If your business has customers, you’re already providing a customer experience, whether you’ve deliberately created it or not.

Absolutely everyone who owns a business wants brand recognition, and the best way to get this is to consciously build a great customer experience around whatever it is you sell.

Colin Smith, Associate Director and Head of Customer Strategy at The Customer Experience Company, defines customer experience as “everything that sits around the product, and makes it more valuable in the eyes of customers”.

“Touchpoints” are the areas of your business that your customers interact with directly. If you have a brick-and-mortar shop or a website, these are obvious touchpoints. Less obvious examples are things like your email communications, order fulfillment, or Facebook page.

“Think about the two or three key needs customers have when they come to your business."

To identify the touchpoints in your business Smith recommends an easy-to-use tool called customer journey mapping. 

“Think about the two or three key needs customers have when they come to your business, whether it's a haircut, a new car or the house of their dreams,” says Smith. “Then think about how the customer will feel when this need has been fully satisfied ['my hair looks great', 'I'm driving my new car', 'I'm drinking a glass of wine on the verandah of my dream home'].

“There are a number of steps the customer takes to get from one to the other [researching online, taking a test drive, paying]. Each of these steps is a touchpoint.” 

So, what should you do once you’ve done your journey mapping and identified your customer touchpoints?

“There are a few basic things to consider,” Smith says.

On a test drive, you want them to be excited, when they pay, you want them to feel reassured.”

The first is to identify which channel they'll be using. “Are they doing this online, face to face or over the phone?” asks Smith. “Are they doing this themselves, or are you helping them? Is someone else involved, such as a retailer?

“However the main thing to consider is how you want the customer to feel at each touchpoint. On a test drive, you want them to be excited, when they pay, you want them to feel reassured.”

Smith recommends being selective when choosing which touchpoints to improve.

“Jan Carlzon, the CEO who famously transformed Scandinavian Airlines, talks about ‘Moments of Truth'.” explains Smith. 

“To apply his approach, think ‘is this a “hygiene factor’, something that just needs to be right, such as politeness, eye contact, and clean seats,  or a real “opportunity to delight”, such as a free upgrade to business class. Don't sweat the hygiene factors, get the basics right. Focus on the opportunities to delight and work out which you can do [while remaining profitable].”

“Imagine you're experiencing your business for the first time.”

Smith’s final piece of advice for anyone wishing to improve their customer experience is simple, but often overlooked in business.

“Empathy. Forget everything you know about your business and put yourself in the shoes of your customer,” says Smith. “Imagine you're experiencing your business for the first time.”

Time to freshen up your eyes, turn up your empathy to full, and start creating your opportunities to delight!

Aja Stuart

Aja is Sydney-based writer and serial entrepreneur. She regularly writes about small business, entrepreneurship, and health and wellbeing. Her latest entrepreneurial adventure is yeahmama.co

Image: Jason Kuffer, Flickr Creative Commons license

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