A new survey from Microsoft Store and SurveyMonkey provides insights into what small business owners have planned for 2018. Ninety percent plan to hire one or two people, which could have something to do with expectations for growth. About 37.6 percent are considering offering a new product or service, while 35.7 percent plan to implement a new marketing strategy.
To successfully launch a new product or service, develop and execute a marketing plan that achieves the desired outcome, and grow in today’s ultra-competitive marketplace, you need to understand the customer experience and the customer journey.
The customer experience is what happens when a customer interacts with your organization over the course of the relationship, before and after a purchase. The customer’s physical, emotional, logical and sensory responses are included in the customer experience, which is the result of both direct and indirect contact between the organization and the customer in various environments.
For example, direct contact typically occurs when a customer initiates the purchase or use of a product or service. This could involve face-to-face contact in a store or office, use of the company website, or communication with an employee or customer service representative via phone, email, text, instant message, etc. Indirect contact involves exposure to marketing, news reports or social media posts, a positive word-of-mouth recommendation, or a negative review.
These interactions occur at various touchpoints along the customer journey, a critical component of the customer experience. While organizations have traditionally focused on optimizing individual interactions, such as sales calls, onboarding and customer service, many experts now agree the better approach is to holistically evaluate and optimize the entire customer journey. The idea is that one failed interaction can result in a negative customer experience, even if the rest of the interactions during the customer journey were positive.
The end results of prioritizing and delivering a positive customer experience are simple – more customer satisfaction and loyalty, which lead to more brand ambassadors and brand equity, and more revenue. Of course, you can’t just say “we prioritize the customer experience” and expect customers to start doing cartwheels of joy. You need a customer experience strategy.
Creating a customer experience strategy begins with creating a vision of what a positive customer experience looks like and the principles that drive that experience. The vision and principles should be based on your customers’ needs, wants and expectations, as well as their pain points and frustrations. This information must be communicated across the organization so employees can better understand your customers.
Armed with this information, employees can create an emotional connection with customers so they become emotionally engaged with your organization. Leverage these connections to gather valuable feedback and further enhance the customer experience by identifying training needs for your team. At the same time, gather and act upon feedback from employees on how to improve the customer experience. Finally, learn how to measure the customer experience based on business results so you know if your strategy is working.
In the next post, we’ll discuss how small businesses can deliver a great customer experience, and what technologies can be used to improve interactions across the customer journey.