January 23, 2017

Improving your customer’s experience

By Jacki Hart CLP
Prosperity Partners program manager

Every reader of this magazine has customers. Most have employees, a website, social media accounts, multiple company email addresses and voice mail boxes and employees who mostly work out of our sight for most of their day. For most, this list continues: branded trucks, a place of business, company uniforms worn on personal time, the chatter of staff while working on customer sites, word of mouth opinions, peer referrals from related businesses and more.

These elements comprise your brand. They represent the sum total of not only your customers’ experiences, but those of your potential customers as well. When you manage your brand well, you are clearly communicating what your company does and how, and why, people trust you.

To determine how well you are intentionally managing your customers’ experience, here are a copule of questions:

In what ways do you strategically manage all of the touch points your customers experience with your business?

There are things your customers see and things your customers hear. There are also things your customers know about your brand and how reliably it could solve a problem for them or in some way, improve their life. All of these touch points represent opportunities. Opportunities are yours to either seize, or lose. Opportunities can elevate or destroy the depth of loyalty your customers have with your company and brand.

As we approach the winter ahead, in what ways will you work to strategically improve and manage the experiences your business creates? What were the root causes of service failures in 2016? What were the crowning moments of glory?

Here are some more questions to help clarify your thinking:
• How unique is my offering/product line/service?
• Is my company delivering an appealing, unique message?
• Am I staying current with my social media/advertising/blog messages?
• Do I have an appealing, up-to-date, easily recognizable logo and name?
• How consistently am I communicating my company culture and approach across all of my marketing platforms? (ie: website, Facebook, printed media, verbal and email communications, etc.).
• In what ways are customers engaging (or not engaging) as ambassadors of my brand?
• How clear is my value proposition? In what ways is my brand solving a problem? Is it unique? Does it provide an emotional benefit?
• In what ways am I making and keeping promises? In what ways am I breaking them?

In order to figure out where you need to create new processes, messaging, behaviour standards, communication policies and practices, make sure you also take an inventory of what is working really well. Celebrate success. Consider sending a brief survey to your customers (if you don’t already ask at the end of each transaction). They will usually tell you things you were only able to guess about. Ask them how you could improve. Ask them why they chose you. Ask if they will refer you. Thank them for their input, then get back to work.

Your employees can also be a great source for feedback, especially if they are frustrated with cumbersome processes, inefficient scheduling/routes, or requests from customers that are beyond their permission to follow through on.

In next month’s column, we’ll take a look at your employees’ experience of your company and potential strategies you can deploy to improve this crucial area of business management.