Forgive me for stating the obvious, but customers are your business.
Whether you’re in a commercial operation or a government department, all paths lead to a customer.
Customers provide the funds that enable your business to survive, whether they’re purchasing goods or paying tax dollars. In return, you provide the products and services they need.
Or do you?
Times have changed.
Customers have more choices, with more ways of doing business.
New technologies mean customers are far more informed about your products and services than ever before. Through the power of social media, your customers are connected to more people than at any previous time in history. Different generations want to interact with your business in different ways.
If your business does something great, the world knows. If your business does something foolish, the world knows.
So how do you turn a customer’s experience with your business into a success story?
By understanding the customer’s journey.
A journey with obstacles is an inconvenience customers won’t want to repeat
Traditionally, businesses interact with their customers via a few necessary touchpoints.
But necessary to whom? You or your customer?
To support these interactions, you construct complex systems and processes and consume expensive resources to deliver what you think the customer wants. By focusing on this, you miss the greater opportunities a full understanding of the customer experience can deliver.
A customer’s experience with your business starts far earlier and finishes far later than you think. And it’s not just about your processes. It’s also about their emotions, the expectations they have and their real needs.
These factors need to be addressed if you truly value their custom.
All too often, it’s easy to allow system and resource limitations, policies and procedures to dictate how a customer should interact with your products and services.
When the new, educated customers realise this, they move on.
Streamline the customer journey by getting rid of the dumb stuff
So where do you start?
- Think about what a customer expects to happen when they interact with your business. This may not be favourable!
- Think about the things your business does to influence or ‘control’ customer behaviour. Identify what a customer really needs, not what you think they want. There’s a considerable difference. Identifying their real needs lets you explore how to take advantage of a much wider range of touchpoints than you previously thought possible.
- Map the customer’s journey. Find out where the process really starts for the customer, and where it ends. It’s likely to be way outside of what you perceive as your current area of influence … but it’s not. You just don’t realise it yet.
- Identify what things you do that have a direct impact on customer success, both positives and negatives.
- Talk to customers and identify their expectations and feelings at every step of their journey.
- Most of all stop doing dumb stuff. If a process or procedure is not adding value to the customer, or supporting someone who is, then stop doing it. Why pay for something that doesn’t meet the needs of the one person that’s paying for your business?
Make your customer’s journey a happy one
I’ve read that it costs between 5 and 10 times more to attract a new customer than to retain an existing one. So it makes sense to keep your customers happy.
And happy customers attract new customers.
So focus on meeting your customers’ needs. That means focusing your business systems, resources, policies and procedures on delivering a successful customer outcome, each and every time.
Turn off the stuff that gets in the way.
You can probably think of dozens of reasons not to do things. But what if you shelved those reasons just for a moment? What if …? Just think that for a moment.
Enhanced customer service.
Improved and new revenue opportunities.
Imagine your customers saying, ‘Wow, they took care of everything, they care about me, it was so easy, they took all the worry away’.
Allocate all resources first to meet and then to exceed your target customers’ needs.
You’re in the customer experience business whether you know it or not!
Get out there and listen to your customer. Let them tell you their story and, in time, you’ll have them coming back for more.