Customer satisfaction and customer experience are not the same thing. Consider the case, in 2016, of a prominent chain of European gas stations hired a company to measure customer satisfaction at its more than 150 gas stations across the continent. It installed simple ‘Happy or Not’ terminals where thousands of consumers a day could press a button to record their satisfaction with the gas station.
Very quickly, the chain detected that one gas station was performing better than the others, while another was slipping behind. The chain switched the two managers, putting the manager from the best-performing gas station into the worst-performing outlet and vise versa.
Almost instantly, the top-performing gas station began slipping, while the bottom-performing outlet closed the gap with the others. Why? They were both selling the same product, with the same layout. What was one manager doing that the other was not?
The high-performing manager knew how to create a positive customer experience. They knew that creating a pleasant experience for the customer, from the moment they walked into the gas station to the moment they left, was essential for building repeat business. This meant getting the details right. Were the lights working in the parking lot, so customers felt safe? Did the locks work on the bathroom stalls? Were their interactions with staff positive?
Here are five simple strategies to improve the experience you offer your customers each and every time.
Have a Vision
Firstly, you need to have a vision of what experience you want your customers to have when they use your product or services. Without a clear vision and guiding set of principles, your staff cannot strive to bring your experience to life. How do you want your customers to feel? What do you want them to see? What interactions do you want them to have?
Like the gas station chain, you need to be measuring customer experience. You need to be made aware of areas where more work needs to be done.
One-click CSAT surveys for improved customer satisfaction allow you to collect data from your customers. They fill out surveys, add comments and give feedback on areas that could be improved. Without this data, you cannot effectively improve the experience on offer.
Understand Who Your Customers Are
Having a clear picture of who uses your products and services means that you can build a better experience for them. It can drive your hiring practices, by ensuring your staff share the same values as your consumers and can better engage with them. It can also influence décor, and ensure your business becomes fully customer-centric.
Build a Connection
One of the best ways to improve the “experience” rather than just elevating “satisfaction” is by building an emotional connection with the customer. For example, if one of your employees finds out the reason a customer was late returning a pair of shoes was because her mother died, ensuring a courier is available to pick them up and drop off a bouquet of flowers and a card will be a nice touch and create an emotional connection with the customer.
These connections can be something as small as giving a child a free chocolate bar, or as grand as offering a single-mother free groceries one day. They do not have to be big gestures to build an emotional bond with your customer.
Focus on Employees
The employees are the face of the business. They are the ones that have the ability to turn a positive experience into a negative one or a negative into a positive simply by the way they respond to customers.
As a result, employee training should be a priority for any business looking to improve their customer experience and elevate satisfaction levels.