Have you ever checked out Yelp reviews of a restaurant you’re considering trying? If you have, you’ve more than likely seen ratings for any given establishment that span the gamut from one to five stars. It’s interesting when you actually read the reviews. In my experience, for most restaurants, the majority of comments focus on customer service (or lack thereof). “The server was oblivious to the fact that we we’re trying to wave her down for more drinks. Can’t recommend.” For the same restaurant another customer said, “Marcy was attentive, friendly, and funny. She brought us a complimentary dessert for our anniversary. We’ll be back!”
This example points to the need for businesses to provide a great customer service experience consistently at every customer touch point. You do this by creating a Customer Experience Management (CEM) strategy that focuses on the retention of your current customers as well as the long-term growth of your overall customer base.
Some business owners believe that they aren’t big or sophisticated enough to warrant a CEM strategy. But the truth is that size and sophistication do not matter. Social media has changed the competitive landscape and leveled the playing field. The skyrocketing growth of social websites and virtual communities means that no business can run or duck from word-of-mouth. Customers have become more vocal and demanding about their experiences. So, whether you’re a Mom and Pop or a mega-corporation, any business who wants to stay competitive and stay around needs to understand what its customers value and to provide whatever that is all of the time.
A study by Forrester Research found that 53 percent of executives surveyed said the lack of a clear CEM strategy was a major impediment to improving their companies’ customer experience. Why? A good CEM strategy:
- Focuses on consistently communicating what your customers value and how to deliver what they want.
- Cultivates a customer-centric culture that reflects your service values.
- Emphasizes listening. This means not only listening to and engaging with your customers, but listening to your employees who are the touch points.
- Describes how to act on feedback and let your customers know that you acted on it.
- Focuses on an extraordinary customer experience rather than selling the product.
- Closes the gap between customer expectation and delivery of your claim.
- Enables you to be proactive rather than reactive to market changes and customer needs.
- Helps you outshine your competition, drive customer loyalty, and increase revenue.
Just recently, I had my own “memorable” customer service experience at a local pack ‘n ship store. I was shipping a package and didn’t tape the top of the box closed because I needed to drop some paperwork into it right before I sent it. During the transaction, the friendly person at the counter asked me if I’d like her to tape up the box. I thought, “How nice,” and was a happy little customer until she rang up my bill. As I Iooked it over she said, “It was one dollar for the tape.” Oh, come on! I immediately went from content to cantankerous. I didn’t say a word to her but I did say a few words on Yelp…