It would be silly of me to ask if you want to delight your customers… what business doesn’t? But are you making that a priority and actively working on a plan to build customer delight? If not, you’re selling your customers short, and you’re also hurting your business.
Today we’ll cover both the “why” and the “how” of a customer delight program, including some tips you can put into action right away. Here’s what you’ll learn:
- What is customer delight
- How customer experience drives business success
- How to get the customer insight you need to improve customer experience
- 13 ways to achieve customer delight by applying what you learn
What exactly is customer delight?
Customer delight means providing a consistently great customer experience across every interaction with your company; an experience that goes above and beyond what customers expect. The goal is to keep customers loyal to your products and services, and encourage them to refer others to your business.
Customer delight became a popular marketing buzzword with Hubspot’s definition of the marketing flywheel, an idea that expands the role of marketing to influence the entire end-to-end customer experience.
You may be thinking… I knew it! This whole idea of customer delight is just another marketing fad. I promise you, this is not a trend that’s going to disappear anytime soon. Focusing on customer delight is an idea that’s gaining ground for an important reason: companies of any size and in any industry can protect their brand’s reputation AND grow revenue by providing a “delightful” customer experience.
In fact, actively working toward customer delight is a must given the increasingly competitive marketplace. If you fail to provide the experience your customer wants, there are plenty of others ready and willing to do so.
How a “delightful” customer experience grows business revenue
The truth is, gaining business success by delighting customers is not a new idea. Some of the most successful industry disruptors have made their mark by revolutionizing customer experience and creating customer delight: think Apple, Uber, AirBnB. However, focusing on customer experience is an idea that’s been neglected until recently.
Over the past 5 to 10 years, the rise of internet and content marketing has had everyone hyper-focused on attracting and nurturing new leads using digital channels. Unfortunately, many marketers lost sight of what ought to be the easiest business to get: keeping and expanding business from current customers.
It’s also less expensive to get, because growing customer lifetime value and selling to customer referrals costs far less than acquiring new customers through other marketing and sales channels.
By ignoring customer experience, companies missed out on opportunities to upsell and cross-sell. They missed out on referrals. Worst of all, they simply assumed that customers were happy and would keep buying from them… a mistake that often resulted in customer attrition.
The other inevitable result of ignoring customer experience is suffering a hit to your online reputation. When that happens, negative reviews and comments from unhappy customers can chase away new prospects you are trying to attract and engage through your marketing and sales efforts.
That’s why smart organizations are implementing holistic marketing strategies that begin with customer delight: because the gains you make in customer experience boost the success of every other marketing and sales tactic you choose to invest in.
Get started by gathering customer insight
What will it take to delight your customers? If you’re not seeking out honest customer insight, you really don’t know if you’re meeting expectations, exceeding them, or falling far short.
Use what you’ve got
Many companies can tap into two sources of customer insight that are readily available: online comments and reviews, and your own customer service database.
Reviewing this data can help you begin to identify where you may be falling short with your customer experience. However, remember that both of these sources are inherently skewed to the negative. People post complaints on social media and review sites far more often than they post praise. The same for customer service data: people rarely reach out to customer service to tell you you’re doing a great job!
So the next step is conducting research to collect feedback from a more well-rounded sample of customers.
Send net promoter surveys
A net promoter score (NPS) measures how likely a customer is to recommend you to others following a recent experience with your company.
Here’s how it works:
- When you sell a product or provide a service, you collect contact information from customers (email addresses).
- Shortly after that experience, you send the customer a two-question survey via email.
- The customer rates how likely they are to refer you, using a 1 to 10 score.
- The customer has the opportunity to share the reason behind their rating by answering an open ended question about their experience.
Ideally, you want to survey as many customers as possible, and send the surveys as soon as possible after their experience with you. This process, when done on an ongoing basis, gives you an accurate picture of what your customers want and how they perceive your product or service.
Follow up with customer interviews
As part of your survey process, you can ask customers to participate in one-on-one phone interviews to probe deeper into their experience.
Here are some examples of customer insights to seek out when you interview customers:
- What’s the top priority they want from your products and services?
- What issues are they experiencing at every touchpoint with your company?
- How much interaction with your company does the customer want, and in what form (such as phone calls, text, email)?
- If applicable, how did this experience differ from experiences with competitors?
IMPORTANT: Many (if not all) of the customers who agree to interviews have a specific problem that they want resolved. Choose employees to conduct these phone interviews who have the ability and authority to mitigate complaints.
13 best practices for a great customer experience
Armed with the customer insight you gained from your research, it’s time to make changes and work toward customer delight.
Here are some customer experience best practices that can boost customer satisfaction.
1. Start with what matters most
What did customers say was their top priority? That’s what you should tackle first. Fix that experience so you’re providing even more than customers expect.
2. Identify and fix the holes in your processes
Now that you know what customers really want, identify what you can do to make your customer experience align with those expectations. Here are just a few possibilities.
Simplify ordering and fulfillment processes. Too many steps or too many barriers to completing a purchase can make it cumbersome for customers. What can you do to make it faster and easier to buy from your company?
Improve communication with customers. Many customer experience fails happen simply because you don’t communicate status information to the customer. People can often tolerate delays when they know what’s happening and why. Build status updates and alerts into your process.
Identify the situations when processes break down. There are always going to be times when things don’t go as planned. How quickly do you react to those events and intervene so you don’t disappoint customers? Can you create a plan proactively to handle problems you know will come up?
3. Inform product development
We’ve all heard the horror stories about companies that spent a fortune developing products that flopped because they didn’t do what customers wanted or needed. That’s a big reason why customer research is so valuable: it helps you get it right the first time. By gathering customer insight, you gain the intelligence to create products that delight customers.
IMPORTANT: Make sure you have a mechanism in place to regularly deliver customer insight to the product development team. And make sure you hire leaders who will take customer feedback seriously.
4. Be proactive
As you collect more customer data (and make better use of the data you already have), you can pinpoint common questions and problems customers have, as well as when they are likely to come up. Once you know that, it’s often easy to prevent those problems.
How can you do that? Create content that answers common questions and provides customers with information you know they will need. Then, use the right format and delivery mechanism to get it into your customers’ hands at exactly the right time.
5. Make it personal
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that every customer wants and needs the same thing. As much as you possibly can, focus your interactions on each customer’s individual needs. Use every bit of information you know about them to make that happen. And what you don’t know, ask!
6. Respond fast when you fail
I can’t stress this enough! You must respond as quickly as possible when you learn that a customer has had a bad experience, especially when it’s been reported on review websites and social media (which multiples the issue by turning your customer experience problem into a PR problem). The more time goes by, the angrier your customer will be because they feel like you don’t care. And others reading it online will also think you don’t care.
Remember this: an angry customer is not a lost cause. You can often turn these situations around if you handle it right. Even if you’re not sure you made a mistake, start by apologizing anyway. You can say something like “I’m sorry you felt ignored by our staff today,” which addresses the customer’s feelings.
7. Say thank you
Make sure every customer feels valued at every point in their journey with you. One way to accomplish that is to make saying “thank you” a part of your company culture. When a prospect reaches out to ask a question, say “thank you for your question.” When you get an order or a request for service, say “thank you for your business.” When you get a payment, say “thank you for your payment.” Even when you get a complaint, say “thanks for your feedback.”
And make sure everyone means it! Without customers, they don’t have a job. Which brings me to my next point…
8. Train every employee to be a problem solver
Every employee that deals with customers must know how to handle an interaction with an unhappy customer. And even those who don’t normally deal with customers should be aware of the issues customers face, and should be focused on improving products, services, and processes to eliminate those issues.
Remember that most employees don’t come by those skills naturally. As you learn more about the problems your customers face, share that information with employees and teach them how to think differently and do better.
9. Invest in employee experience
For many businesses, contact with employees is a major component of the customer experience. One negative interaction… or one positive one… can make or break a customer’s opinion of your entire company. That’s why you may need to work on employee satisfaction if you want to improve customer satisfaction.
10. Take advantage of technology
In many cases, technology can help you to improve customer experience by making tasks quicker and easier for your staff. Empower employees with the tools to provide better customer service. Just a few examples:
- Systems that make it easy to access customer data
- Software that automates communication
- Tools that monitor social interactions
Some technology not only saves you time, but also handles some of the other steps mentioned here… like providing status updates. For example, a service provider can use software that sends customers automated reminders about service appointments. You can even let the customer know who is coming to do the service, complete with a picture. It’s a great way to personalize their experience and manage expectations.
11. Share customer delight stories
Lots of businesses make a point of sharing success stories with the entire company, such as making a big sale or landing a major new client. Why not reinforce your new customer-focused company culture by sharing stories about customer experience wins?
When people hear stories about how others have managed to delight customers, it motivates them and helps them to learn how they can do the same.
12. Track customer satisfaction metrics
Measuring customer satisfaction metrics should not be a one-time project. For one thing, you’ll want to see how your customer delight efforts are paying off with improved feedback from customers. But possibly more important, you want to know about it the minute a new issue comes along (as it certainly will).
Keep sending surveys, tracking social interactions and reviews, and occasionally interviewing customers to stay on top of how you’re doing.
13. Commit to continuous improvement
Working on customer delight is an ongoing effort. Over time, you can transform your products, services, and the way you do business so that the people you serve are getting the best possible experience.
When you do that, you will keep those customers for the long term, have employees who are positive and proud of what they do, and you’ll reap the rewards when customers write glowing reviews and send referrals your way.
Want to learn more about how you can delight your customers and grow your bottom line? Contact HELLO Marketing for a free 20-minute consultation that will help get you on the right path. Call Lauren at 973.214.5942 or email her at [email protected].