customer experience for micro businesses

what is customer experience?

The relationship that a business has with its customer's can be a simple way to look at customer experience. The not so simple part is being able to add value into the experience. This is possible by identifying all the interactions and touchpoints that a customer has, before, during and after a sale.

Customer experience is the phrase used to describe the relationship a customer has with a business. Customer experience refers to the total of all experiences the customer has with the business, based on all interactions and thoughts about the business.

Customer experience is an integral part of customer relationship management (CRM), and it is important to businesses because customers who have a positive experience are more likely to become repeat customers and loyal customers of the business.

Good customer experience is a long term commitment, not a campaign.

where to start with customer experience?

Being able to understand your customer's experience will require an insights into their needs and your ability to exceeded their expectations. By actively taking an interest in their needs you can begin to build a better relationship that leads to higher retention rates, improved chances of upselling and lower customer acquisition costs.

Start with a customer journey map that identifies some of the touchpoints your customer's will go through when coming into contact with your business:

  1. Online - search, social media, email, blogs, website
  2. Offline - in store, direct mail, outdoor advertising, word of mouth

Now to identify some of the interactions that they may have with your business:

  1. Online - completed contact forms, social media sentiment, email open rates, website engagement rates (bounce rate, time on page)
  2. Offline - sales (business development, procurement) and support teams (customer service, complaints) and in store/office

what steps can I take to improve my customer's experience?

Once you have a clear idea on the interactions and touchpoints that your customer’s experience, you can start to do a number of added value activities:

  • Create content that reflects customer's needs to optimise your online activities
  • Design processes that reflect your customer's behaviours to align with your offline activities

To be really customer centric, you’ll want to bring your online and offline experiences into one, keeping everything consistent and streamlined.

Creating content can be a great way to show your customers that you care about their needs and know what they want. The importance of content is that it helps people decide on decisions and deepens the relationship between people and brands.

What’s important to note when creating content for the customer experience is that you will need to know which customers consume content at which touch points and how that content will get to the customers.

Designing processes can be done through analysing your current online data and integrating this into your offline processes.

An example of making a small improvement:

  • Reduce the time on hold by asking less questions
  • Put an overflow call feature in place so you’re there for customers 24/7

Processes are designed to be effective and efficient, this is what customers now expect, they want it fast with minimal effort. If you can make everything as easy as possible for your customers, this will improve their experience.

what is the link between customer relationship management and customer experience?

Customer relationship management (CRM) systems are a way of managing the customer experience. These systems allow you to gather information about your customers, in order to develop long term relationships that increase customer loyalty for both new and established customers.

The long term relationship focus is supported by a whole field of marketing known as relationship marketing. It shows the benefits of focusing on long term goals of customer engagement, instead of short term goals such as customer acquisitions and individual sales.

CRM systems help you collect information and data about your customers so that you can optimise for the experience. CRM and customer experience go hand in hand, one part is data collection the other data analysis.

Being genuinely interested in your customers will reward you with brand loyalty, positive word of mouth, cross-selling opportunities, and lower advertising costs.

why is it important to have a customer experience?

Living in a global marketplace has brought down the prices of many products and services and the rise of the internet has decentralised information. Customers have more power, more options and most importantly more knowledge. They also have more choice which can be seen as a positive if you’re super targeted with your value propositions as you’ll be the stand out option.

Experiences are yet to be commoditised and it’s where the most value from products and services derive. People are prepared to pay premium price if they know the experience will be worth it. The bar has been raised so high that people are starting to expect a quality experience and without adding value at every touchpoint, demanding a premium price just won’t happen.

how does customer experience affect my business?

Whether you like it or not, your business is currently creating an experience for your customers, either good or bad. If you compete solely on price then ask yourself would these questions; how long will it be before

a) your customer can make this product/service themselves?
b) technology automates the transaction to cut you out of the supply chain?
c) a larger competitor swallows up your market?

Understanding your customer's and becoming customer centric is what will keep you in business despite the future challenges. It also makes sense financially. Understanding your customers more will help you keep them for longer. Consider reducing the amount of advertising, interruption marketing and outbound sales you do and focus on raising prices through offering more value.

There is a cost to implementing this way of thinking and it’s investing in strategy, data analysis and content creation. See customers as people and not statistics.

where can I find out more about customer experience?

A solid start to improving your customer experience is by understanding your customers and you can do this through persona mapping. If you have already done persona mapping before then start thinking about the touch points and interaction that your personas go through pre, during and post a sale. A way to do this is by understanding the micro moments they are likely to encounter, when you understand this you can either create content to add value/aid decision making or design a process to make it a more pleasurable experience.