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Customer Experience Make no mistake, customers are in control — now more than ever. And they’ve gained control because of the vast resources available to screen, evaluate, and determine if a vendor can solve their unique business challenge; before the vendor is even aware they’re in the market. This reality is changing the landscape of how companies do business, including the quality of customer experience they must offer to compete in their market and win. Put simply, businesses cannot afford to provide a less than stellar customer experience, on a consistent basis. Doing so risks not only losing existing customers in increasingly commoditized markets, but also losing opportunities to gain new customers via the best — and most affordable — marketing channel, i.e. via existing customers. So what are the best companies doing to deliver a knock-your-socksoff customer experience (CX)? Let’s explore a few emerging strategies that have proven to deliver: 1. View your Customer Service as a Second Marketing Department There’s a popular expression: customer service is the new marketing — based on research showing the power of CX through online reviews, and their ability to drive new customers. Studies indicate 90% of consumers’ research online reviews prior to making buying decisions, and 60% of the buying process is already done before they reach out to a vendor. Two factors come into play here — quality of offering and customer service. By incorporating marketing into support, and discussing advanced new product offerings, discount offers, requests for reviews, product feedback and upcoming releases as a part of all customer interactions, companies can take what is typically seen as a cost center and turn it into a powerful profit center instead. 2. Get to know your Customer better than they themselves do In a non-creepy way, of course. Angela Smith, a senior manager in the services sector suggests doing what Amazon does and taking the time to truly know and understand customers. “The key is being able to anticipate customer needs — before they may even be aware of them — and to make recommendations that resolve issues in people’s lives. By being proactive, companies become valuable allies in helping people lead better, happier, more productive lives, all of which lead to greater customer loyalty.” By making helpful suggestions based on existing data, companies can not only improve the quality of the customer experience, they can simultaneously add substantial revenues to the bottom line as well. 3. Integrating Customer Support Channels Learn how customers want to be supported in your market, and then focus on that channel. This can often be a chat or a phone call, depending on the issue. If it’s a quick and easy answer, chat will usually do the trick. If it’s more complicated and requires a discussion, phone works best. Whatever you do, don’t simply offer a FAQs section to address customer concerns. Research shows that few things drive customers away as quickly as not having a real, live person to support them. How leaders do it By Errol Greene Sales and Service Excellence Essentials presented by HR.com | 12.2015 Submit your Articles 15


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