“A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.”
– Wayne Gretzky, ice hockey icon
When the sports legend uttered these famous words, he was talking about his memorable tenure on the ice. But his words very much apply to the business world—specifically the customer experience.
This experience, or the relationship between customers and an organization, is extremely important. In fact, it can mean the difference between holding onto happy, committed customers who refer their friends and family—and customers who leave due to a poor experience.
The bottom line is that attracting and acquiring new customers can be five times more expensive than keeping existing ones. As a result, focusing your organization’s efforts on creating a strong customer experience strategy is more important than ever.
In fact, a study by Walker, a customer experience consulting firm, found that having a strong customer experience has become a significant brand differentiator, ahead of both price and product. According to the study, successful businesses will become the “most forward-thinking companies, those that consciously and deliberately work at anticipating the future needs of their customers and devise strategies to deliver.”
SuperOffice (a CRM software provider for sales, marketing and customer service) suggests several ways that organizations can successfully develop a winning customer experience strategy, which will inevitably position your organization “where the puck is going to be.” These include the following ideas:
Develop a Well-Defined Customer Experience Vision
This vision is a statement or set of statements that act as guiding principles for the organization. For example, Southwest Airlines created a vision to “become the world’s most loved, most flown and most profitable airline.” The airline’s vision is rooted in its culture and drives the behavior of the organization as a whole, as well as that of employees.
In addition, the vision is directly related to the airline’s mission, which is described as being dedicated to “the highest quality of customer service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride and company spirit.”
Build an Emotional Connection with Customers
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According to an article by Colin Shaw, Founder and CEO of Beyond Philosophy—a customer experience consulting, research, and training firm—more than 50 percent of a customer’s experience is connected to emotions.
“Customers are people, and people are driven by emotions. Everything we do can be traced back to emotions,” he writes. “Whether it’s about our human need to be social (Maslow) or the desire to be part of a tribe, the desire for status, the need to feel safe or many more aspects, emotions are at the core of human behavior. Quite simply, if you wish to improve the customer experience, you need to embrace the fact that customers are emotional beings. Once you have done this, the next step is to design emotions into your customer experience.”
The best way to develop this emotional connection is to help customers become attached to your product, service, or organization. Make them feel something. Consistently move them.
Request Customer Feedback—and Always Act on It
The only way to accurately gauge the success of your customer experience is to actually ask. Gather feedback from customers via social media, interviews, surveys, phone calls, emails, and focus groups. This feedback can reveal the areas where you need to improve in order to meet customer expectations.
But just gathering the data is not enough. It’s all about how organizations actually use the feedback.
Whitney Wood, managing partner of the Phelon Group—a consultancy that focuses on helping companies build better relations with customers—explains this idea in an Inc. Magazinearticle: “Every day, companies solicit feedback from customers, yet only a few translate that feedback into meaning. An even smaller fraction of companies actually take action or close the loop with the customer, to let them know their voice was heard. If you handle it right, the dialog between you and your customers can become the lifeline of your business. To establish and maintain a healthy flow, customer feedback must result in change that your customers can see. Change is the most powerful currency to reward vocal and consultative customers.”
Simply put, be sure to actually act on the feedback to improve your services/ product and deliver an enhanced customer experience. This information not only helps initiate change, but it allows you to take meaningful action.
Developing a strong customer experience translates into loyal and happy customers who keep coming back again and again. And learning how to earn this loyalty can be the difference between “playing where the puck is” and “playing where the puck is going to be.”
Loyal customers are the dream for every small business. NCH is here to help you take the first step in reaching that dream. Start with a Nevada LLC today!