From reviews and ratings to good old word of mouth, the experience your customers get is pivotal to your business performance. Here are the basics, from the Simply Business customer experience team.
- The best business bank accounts for startups 2017, compared
- 7 tips for keeping customers loyal
- Our top tips for great customer care
- What type of business insurance do I need?
The Simply Business customer experience team are experienced in all things, well, ‘experience’. But just recently we’ve also been shortlisted for an award at the UK Financial Services Experience Awards, 2017.
We’re up for Best Customer Centric Organisation, and whilst we wait to see what happens, here are our top six tips for creating the best customer experience possible, regardless of company size or budget restrictions. Seriously - an effective customer experience strategy can cost next to nothing to implement.
What is ‘customer experience strategy’?
Top tips from Kelly, customer experience/insight executive
Kelly’s worked with the team for a couple of years, and is an expert in customer experience management. Here are her three essentials for customer experience strategy, best practices and tips for delighting your customers.
1. Dedicate the time to looking after customers
“Customer experience is dependent on time, care and focus,” says Kelly. “Even with a huge budget, if you’re not allocating the time to speak to customers, and to review what they’re saying, you can’t put in place customer loyalty schemes or strategies that will engage people, or create a buzz around your brand.”
Whether you’ve got scope for a dedicated team, or are a sole trader with many hats to wear, setting aside even an hour of time during the week to go over feedback, comments, requests (noting any trends) and ratings is time well-spent. Try to take one action from each session, and put it into practice over the following week.
Whether it’s service, efficiency, quality or something else, understanding your customers’ experience gives you scope to grow.
2. Get insight (and a real-life customer experience strategy example)
“We take a couple of weeks every year to hit the road and visit our customers,” says Kelly. “Meeting up at their premises or a coffee shop, we chat about why they started up, their promotion tactics, the business insurance they’ve bought with us, what they expect from us as their provider, claims experiences, the customer benefits they’d value and like to see, and lots more.”
At Simply Business we call it a customer roadshow, but you can apply the same principles to something much smaller-scale. Ask a few customers if they’d be up for giving you half an hour of their time, to answer a few questions about your services. You could do it through a questionnaire, or face-to-face as a small group in a local coffee shop or even in your own premises, if you have one. Make it worth their time and offer a small discount on your services, or hand out free product samples. You’ll be surprised at how much feedback you get, and its quality.
Other good starting points for finding your feedback: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram (do a spring clean of your social accounts and see what people are saying), email (save any emails that include comments, opinions or feedback), online review services and direct, face-to-face feedback.
Best of all, ask! Don’t be shy, ask your customers what they think. They’re likely to give you constructive feedback, and make you think.
3. Customer loyalty strategies - reward your biggest fans
Finally, Kelly stresses: “A customer experience strategy is all about finding your valued customers, and rewarding them with customer loyalty schemes that actually mean something and add value.”
Your customer loyalty definition
Customer loyalty happens when people are choosing to shop with you or use your services, rather than someone else’s, perhaps regardless of price. The trust and goodwill you’ve built up with the customer means that they’ll keep buying with you, rather than shopping around for a competitive offer.
There you have it, the Simply Business way and a clear definition. But the most important job is to use the insight you’ve gathered (see above), understand what makes your customers tick, reward repeat business or big orders with something really special or consistently useful (from a year end discount or special ‘freebie’ windows and events to a simple buy-five-get-your-sixth-free initiative), and stay consistent. Show them that you care about the business they bring you, and reward them in a meaningful way.
Top tips from Reeshma, customer campaign manager
Reeshma has worked with Simply Business for nine years, and there’s nothing she doesn’t know about good customer experience. From customer experience strategy to creative thinking, here are her top customer experience tips:
4. Have a clear customer experience strategy
Reeshma says: “Asking for feedback is one thing, but making time to review and act on it is what adds value. Even if it’s just writing down a goal, the action you’re going to take to reach it, and scheduling in half an hour to go over what you’ve learned and put some new ideas in motion, you have a strategy.”
Start small with Reeshma’s tips above and see how your customer experience strategy grows and changes with your customers and services. Even better, chat it through with someone from your team or a trusted friend or family member.
5. Act on your feedback
“At Simply Business, we have a special task force team, called Team Evo. The team came out of one of our annual hackathons, and has been a fantastic, driving force behind lots of customer experience improvements here. The team is made up of multi-skilled insurance consultants, who are dedicated to improving the customer journey by easing up bottlenecks at busy times.”
This is just a customer experience strategy example of acting on feedback. For Simply Business, it was a blend of feedback from our customers and consultants, but what made the difference was listening, planning and acting on the information we’d gathered, putting customer loyalty importance at the heart of our goals for the year.
6. Surprise your customers (a few special customer loyalty concepts)
“The best part of my job is hearing about a customer who we’ve surprised, in a positive way,” says Reeshma. “We run a scheme called ‘Give a Little Love’, which allows our consultants to arrange a small token of support from Simply Business, often at a time when the customer is ill or going through something difficult.”
It’s not difficult to surprise your customers, and as long as you’re doing it for the right reasons, giving a little love can go a long way. Perhaps you’re a builder and you’ve finished a particularly messy job, knowing that your customer is expecting a baby. Going above and beyond with your clean-up could make a huge difference to their sanity, and of course their customer experience.
From human gestures like this to leaving a bottle of fizz in the fridge or giving a coffee on the house when someone’s in a rush, the list of ways you can surprise and delight is endless. And far more powerful than any ad in the local paper.
Best of luck to the Simply Business customer experience team, up for their first customer experience award. We’re all rooting for you.