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Four Ways To Boost Customer Experience (And Thus Hold Onto Your Clients) To remain competitive and ensure sustainable growth, it is vital that every area of your business focuses on customer satisfaction as a priority.

By Ryanne Van Der Eijk

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It's common sense, of course - every single interaction your customers have with your company will influence their opinion of you, and in turn will influence your brand positively or negatively. That overall experience will guide the customer's decision to return to you and it will improve the likelihood of them providing referrals that will lead to even more business for your company.

To remain competitive and ensure sustainable growth, it is therefore vital that every area of your business focuses on customer satisfaction as a priority. Let's now take a look at four things you'll want to keep in mind when it comes to providing the right experience to your customers.

1. Map out the customer journey from A-Z

It all starts here. Thinking about your customer experience isn't just about the onboarding stage. It's vital to consider their journey every step of the way– from start to finish.

So, as a first step, do just that. Identify the exact journey of your customer– from the prospect stage (when they are not yet even a customer), to the signup process, through to the first few weeks or months, and then onwards throughout the entire lifecycle. Map out every possible touchpoint and ask yourself if you have it all covered to the highest standards. The best way to do this is to put yourself in the shoes of the customer and go through the journey yourself. That way you are sure to know exactly where things are strong and where they could use improvements.

Use your customer's journey to build a "customer experience manual" for your employees: Once you are clear on what it takes to deliver excellence and forge long-lasting customer relationships, ensure all employees involved in the many customer experience touchpoints know what their specific responsibilities are. Do build a manual for it, and wherever possible build it all into the workflow so that it does not even have to be considered- that is, it simply gets done.

Related: The How-To: Delivering Great Customer Service

2. Gather and use customer feedback efficiently

One of the best ways to understand your customers' needs and improve their experience is by evaluating the feedback they give you which, by the way, you need to do on an ongoing basis.

It all starts with mechanisms for collecting customer feedback, which can be a mix of formal and informal methods. Any type of interaction between you and your customers can be considered feedback – from face-to-face structured client satisfaction interviews to a standard questionnaire sent out by email to analyzing social media comments. Set things up so that the end result is an actionable report that guides your company towards a constantly evolving and strengthening customer experience.

Use the feedback to make your company the strongest in its field: If you use feedback consistently and effectively, you will likely stand out quite strongly among your competition over the long run. This is because most companies do not have proper and consistent feedback-gathering mechanisms in place, and many that do are not, in fact, acting on that information to improve the customer experience.

Related: Turning Customer Happiness Into A Sustainable Reality For Your Business

3. Drive digitization

In a survey conducted by the Harvard Business Review focusing on customer relationships, 72% of respondents feel that digitization will strengthen ties between company and consumer.

It is no doubt the responsibility of corporations to utilize digital to improve the customer experience. Here, there are endless scenarios, such as the use of live chat to get quick answers to your website visitors, or easing opportunities for customers to provide feedback in digital format (be it a complaint or just a general overall rating of your service), or using customer experience management software to channel feedback to the right department and provide reporting to senior management on how issues are being handled, and so on. There are tools for just about anything nowadays, and it is more about putting the right ones in place for your particular company needs and then ensuring they are actually being used in a proper way.

Taking it a step further, digitization can also be about building custom platforms that enable prospects and clients to have round-the-clock access to your products and services and to advanced customer support that makes the experience as easy and convenient as possible. If your customers would benefit from being in touch with one another –for example, to trade advice or to exchange products amongst each other– you can even build a digital framework to cater to such needs. There are essentially endless possibilities, and the solutions you build should be guided by what will best impact your business growth.

Use digitization to improve and even expand your offering: The bigger the company, the more complex these systems –and their maintenance– become. Regardless of company size, however, it is worth the effort to make digital part of your game plan. Remember that digitization offers not just room for efficiencies and an overall better customer experience, but an opportunity to expand your offering through technical innovation that can help grow your top and bottom line.

4. Make customer-centricity part of your company culture and give it a purpose

Customer experience isn't exclusive to your sales and customer service teams. It needs to be a priority for the entire company– from the C-suite to the ground floor. In other words, customer centricity needs to be an intrinsic part of your corporate culture.

Make it "purpose-focused" and you'll be guided by the right strategy. To be clear, you'll want to have an overall customer-centricity focus that "services the company by serving the customer experience". What is the point of improved customer experience after all? It is about building a better, bigger and more profitable company. These pursuits are never-ending ones in the corporate world.

If you haven't already done so, you'll need to develop a blueprint that defines your company's philosophy on customer service, then share this document with your employees. Now that's the easy part. The harder task is getting them to live it, and there is no one way to do that.

Translating your vision of a customer-centric company culture into an actual one takes a lot more than just telling people what you want. Sure, you'll want to remind them regularly through special events and workshops, but much more importantly, you'll have to build it into the workflow. Then it simply becomes an automatic part of the everyday efforts, where practicing over and over makes it perfect.

A culture built to last: Again, you won't get very far with a 30-page customer service document or by simply shouting your philosophy from the company rooftop. Cultures that last are built to last from the ground up, and so you'll need to consider the workflow, the processes, the hiring process (how you hire the right people, that is), the training you give your staff, and so on.

Get better every day

Winning a new customer is quite a challenge for every business that operates within a normal competitive landscape- it is simply no easy task. Ensuring those customers stay with you however is a much easier task, usually all that is needed is to continue providing a strong overall customer experience.

The point is that you want to do everything you can to keep those customers you worked so hard to secure in the first place, and part of that is by being a customer-centric firm from the ground up. By following some of the tips in this article, you should enjoy longer-term and more profitable client relationships.

Related: How to Deliver A Great Localized Customer Experience

Ryanne Van Der Eijk

Chief Customer Experience Officer, RAKEZ

Ryanne Van Der Eijk is a transformational leader, people and results-driven, with a long track record in operations, digital, logistics and customer experience. She has worked in the hospitality and the aviation industry in the Netherlands and abroad. When she was the Chief Customer Experience Officer at KLM, a fortune 500 company in Europe, she was assigned to introduce and implement customer experience within the whole organisation, with the aim to transform an operational company into a customer-centric one. Her belief is that people are the key success factor to achieve the change. Since 2017, she has been working in the UAE and she is currently the Chief Customer Experience Officer at Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone (RAKEZ), running the operations, whilst at the same time transforming RAKEZ into the most customer-centric free zone in the UAE. 

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