3 Ways to Authentically Brand Yourself as Customer Friendly Three strategies to improve your customer experience and create a brand of CX excellence

By Michelle Van Slyke

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

One of the biggest business shifts in the last few years has been an internal focus on "customer experience," or CX. While the idea of the customer experience isn't new — the customer journey has long been a benchmark for business success — its implementation has seen a transformation in our increasingly digital business world.

To put it simply, CX is being reimagined to fit the needs of today's customers, and in many cases, it is more in the spotlight due to the evolution of social media and ecommerce.

Gartner research shows that CX now drives two-thirds of customer loyalty, and Emplifi research reports that almost two-thirds of customers will now pay more if they know they'll get a good customer experience.

Being a customer-friendly brand is no longer a business benefit but a business imperative. While most business leaders would consider their brand to be customer friendly, some companies have found a way to stand out.

Related: Why Customer Experience is the Secret to Revenue Growth and Business Success

What separates these brands? The simple answer is an investment in providing an authentically good CX. Here are three strategies to improve your customer experience and stand out as a customer-friendly brand.

1. Better understand your customer

The first step to improving your CX should always be understanding your customers better. The most successful companies have a complete and evolving picture of their customer's needs, challenges and current sentiment toward their brand. Understanding these aspects will reveal where your brand currently stands in terms of CX and help inform your path to improvement by uncovering actionable growth opportunities.

What is the best way to obtain this information? Go right to the source and ask your customers. Conducting email surveys, convening focus groups or running a customer audit are some of the best ways to learn about your customers. Another source you should be leveraging for customer information is your employees.

As the most consistent customer touchpoints, your employees often have a firsthand look at customer behavior. Some of the best ideas I've heard on improving customer service have come from front-line employees who have received impromptu feedback during customer interactions.

Ask your employees to take a survey about their experiences with customers, what customers seem to enjoy about your business, and what are the most common complaints. This information is vital to better understanding your customer and crafting a better customer experience.

Related: Customer Experience Will Determine the Success of Your Company

2. Test out customer-friendly technology

One of the biggest influences of modern CX has been the digital revolution. With the popularity of social media and smart devices, consumers now expect fast, simple and personalized customer service. For brands looking to excel in CX, investing in technology that can provide these benefits is the key to success.

Do a self-inventory of your current technology and conduct outside research into what new technology is available on the market and how it could improve your customer service. Two specific items to consider when evaluating technology are how well the technology removes friction from the buying process and does the technology support digital engagement with your brand.

Today's customers have high expectations from brands, and utilizing customer-friendly technology can provide the support you need to exceed those expectations.

Related: Diving Deep into Consumer-Focused Technologies Based on Personal Experiences

3. Invest in your employees

Whether you're a large brand with a contact center, a franchisee or a small business owner, the face of your customer service is your employees. One of the best ways to cultivate a customer-friendly brand is to support and train your employees so they are ready to excel in any customer service situation.

As a business leader, look to be personal when training your employees and invest the time to improve each of them. Also, be sure to offer opportunities for ongoing professional development outside of your own walls.

For example, The UPS Store offers all its franchise owners ongoing development and training opportunities. Plenty of virtual and in-person opportunities are available for professional development; encourage your employees to better themselves because it can greatly impact your CX.

Beyond training, it's equally important to empower your employees. Engaged and empowered employees provide more consistent, confident customer service. Encourage employees to take the initiative in their customer interactions because that personalized experience is what drives success.

The key to being a customer-friendly company is to authentically excel at CX. With these three strategies, you'll create brand loyalty, a happier experience for your customers and be on the road to business growth.

Wavy Line
Michelle Van Slyke

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Senior Vice President of Marketing and Sales, The UPS Store

Michelle Van Slyke is the senior vice president of marketing and sales for The UPS Store, Inc., which provides print and small business solutions to entrepreneurs and small-business owners at 5,000 franchise locations across the U.S.

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