If your company is losing customers to your competitors, it’s because you didn’t fulfill your customer’s needs. Meanwhile, your competitor is giving your customers exactly what they want.
As a progressive business owner, you first need to get a better understanding of your customer’s needs and then devise a strategy to improve your customer’s experience.
One powerful strategy to retain more customers and to increase market share is to offer more individualized experiences.
Since this is a rather abstract idea, an example will help make it clear:
Imagine that you love to watch TV after a hard day’s work. You enjoy a specific sports channel. Given this scenario, you would probably not get your service from a cable or satellite provider that ignored your individual viewing needs, preferring instead a package like DIRECTV bundles for you. Not only would you enjoy a more individualized experience with this type of offer but you could also choose between different data usage plans.
Why Providing a Superior Customer Experience Makes All the Difference
Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos, an eCommerce shoe company, transformed his business from making no money in 1999 to earning $70 million in 2003 by focusing on customer service.
In an article he wrote for Harvard Business Review, he explained his unique approach to providing excellent customer service, “We receive thousands of phone calls and e-mails every day, and we view each one as an opportunity to build the Zappos brand into being about the very best customer service. Our philosophy has been that most of the money we might ordinarily have spent on advertising should be invested in customer service, so that our customers will do the marketing for us through word of mouth.”
Offering a highly differentiated experience for your customers can reap huge rewards. Your business will achieve a much higher level of customer satisfaction, fewer customers will prefer the competition, and your revenues will go up. Moreover, when your business is flourishing, you and your employees will experience greater satisfaction, too.
In fact, you will probably stand out in your marketplace. You will delight customers who were dissatisfied by other businesses. Unlike your competitors who may be indifferent to their needs, your business will exceed their expectations and it will experience sustainable growth even if your industry itself is going through a stagnant period. Your delighted customers will become enthusiastic advocates of your brand.
How to Deliver a Unique, Improved Customer Experience
Now that you understand the benefits of providing your customers with a unique, customized experience, how do you deliver it?
Here are 3 strategies:
- Find out what your customers want in the first place.
What you believe they want may not be what you want. The only way to find out what they want is to ask them. You can ask them directly if you meet them in person over a counter. You can also ask them through focus groups and surveys. And you can conduct research to find out what customers in your industry are looking for.
- Test your hypothesis.
While you might be fortunate enough to find out exactly what your customers want just by asking them either directly or indirectly, chances are that you may not be entirely clear on what they want. This is because you received many responses to your inquiries, with customers expressing a variety of needs.
Rather than feeling overwhelmed, begin to test out one idea after another. Start adding more of what customers are looking for in your product line or service. See if you get positive or negative feedback.
Test out one idea after another. Over time, you will start giving more customers more of what they want. You may end up segmenting your customer base, giving different customers specific experiences.
If, for example, you were a satellite TV provider, you will discover that some customers love sports; some love sitcoms; and some love cartoons. By segmenting your customers, you will give each type the channel they prefer. In other words, you would tailor your service to provide for different customer types.
- Put systems in place
How do you know if you’re delivering value to your customers? You use the right software to organize and evaluate your projects. For instance, CRM tools will help you keep your customer’s information in one place. Your sales people and your customer support team can then deliver a defined customer experience to their segment of the customer base. In addition, metrics will inform you how each of your departments is doing.
Once you’ve found out what your customers want, then you have to ensure that you keep delivering what they value. You need to put systems in place to repeat a consistent customer experience to both new and existing customers.
Defining the Problem
If your business is not doing as well as you’d like, it might not be a business problem but a relationship issue. Your business will flourish when you give more people more of what they want.
Moreover, this idea of improving customer satisfaction by providing more individualized experiences applies to any business. It doesn’t just apply to service businesses. If, for example, you have an online business that promotes thrift and saving money, you can use content marketing techniques like blogging to promote your ideas to your core customer base.