The importance of a business providing a great customer experience is nothing new. In fact, some large corporations have entire departments dedicated to delivering an exceptional experience for their customers. But for most businesses, especially small businesses, that’s not necessarily feasible.
The good news is 91% of customers prefer small businesses when the option is available to them. That’s because small businesses have the ability to offer niche and differentiating offerings to their audience, making for a great customer experience.
What is Customer Experience?
Customer experience, or CX, is the result of every interaction a customer has with your business. Every website visit, every phone call, every purchase, and even what happens after a purchase comprises a customer’s experience with a business.
As you can imagine, offering a great CX is essential to the growth and success of your business. In fact:
- 86% of buyers say they’ll spend more for a great experience
- More than two-thirds of companies compete primarily on CX
- 72% of customers will share a positive experience with 6 or more people. On the other hand, if a customer is not happy, 13% of them will share their experience with 15 people, or even more.
That’s why businesses everywhere are investing more than ever into the experience they provide their customers. But it doesn’t have to be expensive to offer great service. We interviewed some of our top customer experience stakeholders at PATLive to dive into simple, inexpensive ways to boost the CX for your business, no matter your size.
But First, What Makes Us Experts?
We love an opportunity to toot our own horn. PATLive has been answering phone calls for thousands of businesses for 30 years. Our awesome virtual receptionists act as the frontline for businesses 24/7/365, meaning we literally get paid to provide a great CX for our clients and their callers. So we know a thing or two about making people happy. Now, on to the tips.
5 Great Customer Experience Tips
Our Customer Service Operations Manager, Product Specialist, and Customer Support Manager had some things to say about what it takes to wow customers – whether they’re on the phone, in person, or online. Here are the main takeaways:
1. Setting realistic expectations early makes all the difference.
Effective customer onboarding and communication prevents issues from happening in the future. If your customer knows exactly when and where to expect their service, there won’t be surprises later. By discussing all of the specifics early on, you’ll gain more insight into expectations from the customer and they’ll have more confidence working with your business.
Establish a step-by-step guide in your standard operating procedures that contains:
- Details of what your product or service includes and doesn’t include
- A realistic timeline of events from start to finish
- If applicable, a mid-service check-in to keep the customer informed of the status and any improvisations
2. It’s simpler than you think to make an unpleasant experience pleasant.
- Start every customer interaction with a smile. Even on the phone, callers can feel a warm, sincere smile and it creates an upbeat and friendly start to the conversation.
- Listen. Really listen. Don’t interrupt, just listen. Your customer has something to say and once they’ve been heard, they’ll be much more likely to cooperate with the solution you provide.
- Empathize and don’t be afraid to apologize. “I can see how this has been frustrating for you, I apologize that you’ve had this experience with us.”
- Offer a solution and follow through. “Let’s go ahead and take care of this right now while I have you on the phone.”
For even more tips on how to keep your cool during tense customer interactions, check out our blog post on how to manage stressful phone calls.
3. It pays to be kind, even when you’re not feeling upbeat.
It’s unrealistic to expect a bright and sunshine-y disposition from your staff 100% of the time. We all have off days, but there are things we can do consistently that lead to a great CX such as:
- Using the customer’s name to build rapport
- Speaking clearly with a confident voice and kind tone
- Enhancing conversations with positive fillers (Awesome, Great, Perfect, My Pleasure, etc.)
- Always verifying information back to the customer to prevent future issues
4. Trust your employees, but also give them the tools needed to succeed.
Do you conduct customer service training for new hires? Teaching employees simple tactics like smiling on the phone and using positive fillers is the best way to ensure consistent and extraordinary service for your business. Plus, training can give your employees the confidence they need to feel empowered and provide personalized, rockstar experiences for your customers.
5. Regularly audit your customer experience.
It’s so easy to fall into complacency with your own customer journey – it is your business, after all. However, CX is now a major competitive differentiator, and you may be missing super valuable insights that could be game-changing.
Check in on various aspects of your CX from time to time. For example, it’s easy to see how your employees are doing in the office, but do you ever listen to call recordings? Listening in on phone calls helps you get to know your business even better by identifying potential issues like long hold times due to understaffing or a common question asked by callers because of confusion on your website. Both issues are simple to solve, but may not have been issues you knew about before.
Improving your business’s CX doesn’t have to come with a big price tag. There are several (free!) operational procedures, training methods, and tactics that anyone can implement to provide the best CX your business can offer. With a minimal time investment, you can be on your way to earning more business and loyal customers for life.