When talking about customer experience, most would assume it is about a face-to-face interaction with your customers. Contrary to popular beliefs, there are many ways that customer experience can be improved beyond personal interaction. This is why these ideas are unusual. They focus on customer service features that doesn’t involved personal interaction. Traditionally, customer service encompasses the entire experience from the moment customers walk into your store or click on your link until they check out. Now, it also includes their experience after they visit your store when they are home or when they’re at work the next day.
Think about the many times you got frustrated while on hold on the telephone? Think about how many times you’ve been disgusted by dirty restrooms? How annoyed were you to drive to the store just to find out they were closed? How mad it made you feel to find out that they sent you home with the wrong item and now, you’re having a hard time reaching them.
The reality is that your employees will not care as much as you do about pleasing your customers. Your employees won’t even think about making sure customers ever return. Most employees just want to clock in and out every day they are at your store. I’ve been in the retail world for more than 15 years. I would like to share with you some ideas on how you can dramatically improve customer experience even when you are not around.
- Clean and aromatic restrooms: This is the top on my list especially if you have a brick and mortar store. Most likely, your target shoppers are women and we are very sensitive to the cleanliness of your restrooms. It has a great impact in our perception of your business. Install air fresheners. Scent is also now a marketing strategy so make sure you research the right type of scent. Decorate your restroom and make it feel like home. Make sure that your employees check the restroom every 2-3 hours depending on how busy your location is. Create a checking process where your employees have to initial every 2 hours that they checked and cleaned the restroom.
- Up-to-date information on your website: If you are on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Yelp, and Google+ make sure that you update your hours of operation and make the necessary posts and updates to keep your shoppers in the loop.
- Up-to-date information on your “on hold” and voicemail services: If you know that you are going to have extended hours or even an exciting event coming up, set your recording message to reflect these information. Your customers would be happy to learn about what is going on with your business and maybe they would want to support.
- Signage, signage, signage: Create signs for announcements or even for directions! IKEA finally learned this when they installed directional projection signs in their stores. Can you imagine how frustrated people felt when they realized they were walking in circles all along? If you’re out of stock, try your best to let them know when you’ll have it back on stock or have them subscribe to a list so you can email them when it will return.
- Test your process: If you are in e-commerce, see what the check out process looks like. What is the journey like? Do you have systems in place to suggest complimentary products? If you have a brick and mortar store, can people easily find the cashiers? How long does it take to purchase an item?
- Reward your loyal shoppers: If you have regular customers that support and refer businesses to you, do you have a loyalty program in place? It is definitely the best way for you to thank your loyal shoppers! Make them feel rewarded for supporting your business.
- Answer the phone quickly: When your customers call, how long does it take for anyone to pick up the phone? When their calls go through, is your automated system easy to use? Or do you put them through the wringer before they can speak to a live person? Most phone systems are so advanced now that you can set a different message during your operating hours vs. after hours.
- Follow up: When customers are making purchases, do you have a system in place where you can check back with them to see how they like your products so far? This is an extra step you can do that will definitely make your customer feel special.
- Responding to reviews: I know how painful it can feel to read challenging reviews about your brand but 8 times out of 10, these complaints are just misunderstandings. Try not to take it personal. Respond to the challenging reviews while keeping in mind that they were disappointed and perhaps there is something that can be done to improve their perspective.
- Package it right: The small details really do matter. When people purchase products from you, it is up to you to make them feel extra special with their purchase. Maybe it’s the customized packaging that you use, or the little hand written note you include, or perhaps it’s the bow that you added on the package.
- Send Birthday Greetings: Do you know how good it feels to get a birthday message from the brands that you support? It’s even better when there is a special discount attached to this birthday message! If you have a mass email service like Mailchimp, there are ways that you can automate birthday messaging for your customers.
- Clear and concise return and exchange policy: Part of taking care of your customers is considering the fact that there’ll be times when they aren’t happy with their purchase. Retailers like Nordstroms have very lenient return policies because they figured that this is one of their added value in customer service. You don’t have to offer lenient return policies but do your best to communicate your return policies where you can…. refer back to #4 about signage!
- Automated Social Media Messengers response: There is a feature on Facebook Messenger that you can create an auto reply when someone sends you a message. I think that it is vital for customers to feel or know that someone checks the messenger inboxes. You can simply set your message to say “Thank you for your message, we will respond within 24 hours. Please note that our office hours are 8 AM – 5 PM, Monday through Friday.”
- Consistency: Your loyal shoppers appreciate consistency wherever you can implement them. Do you send a weekly newsletter? Are you sending it on the same day every week? Do you receive new inventory every Tuesday? Is there anything you do every week that can be more consistent? Find some ways you can create consistency if you want to be a part of your customers’ routine.
- Make good on your promise. There is nothing better to a customer than receiving good quality product or service. Customers want to feel like they’ve found a treasure and it will automatically make them feel at their best knowing that they’ve found something most people don’t know about. Make your customers proud when they purchase or work with you!
I’m sure there are plenty of other ways to improve customer experience that is not included on this list. One of which was a recent post I saw about how one Sephora store designated a different color shopping basket for customers who do not want to be bothered by sales associate while they are shopping! Now that’s maximum thoughtfulness.
Another idea are chatbots! Not everyone has the resources to install chatbot features on their website but it seems to be one efficient way to improve customer experience on your website.
Customer experience can make or break your business. Customers may give you one more shot if you get it wrong the first time but more likely than not, they are happy to move on to a competitor and wouldn’t think twice about sharing their bad review about their experience with you.
Take the necessary steps to improve your customer experience and don’t wait for a complaint before you make these improvements. Leave a comment below about other ideas on how to improve customer experience beyond the face-to-face contact.