As a business owner, you should ensure that you create a consistent customer experience across every facet of your brand. Why? First, because it’s the right thing to do. And second, because a positive customer experience means better sales growth. In fact, research shows that it increases your bottom-line profits by an average of 15%!
You’re creating a win-win situation here. Your business gains growth and revenue, while your customers are deeply loyal and happy. So, what defines a consistent customer experience?
How Experience is Linked to Expectation
If someone promises you nothing, and delivers nothing, you don’t feel any antagonism. But if they promise you something and don’t deliver it, you’d probably feel aggrieved and unhappy.
So far, so good. But consider this scenario. They promise you something – and deliver it. Just on the wrong day. Or they deliver the wrong thing. Or the delivery guy, normally happy and polite, is suddenly rude and dismissive.
As humans, we develop expectations based on experience and available information. If everyone tells you how amazing a restaurant is, you might decide to try it out. But you discover the food is average, and the service is slow. Unhappy? Of course. But now imagine if everyone told you the restaurant offered average food and slow service. And you decided to go anyway, just to enjoy the sea view and have a meal. Would you feel disappointed? Probably not – because you didn’t expect a five-star experience in the first place.
Humans are Creatures of Habit
When you drive somewhere familiar, you most often take the same route every day. Why? Because your brain is wired to seek out the most energy-saving functions and tasks. You subconsciously resist change and seek out familiarity.
Your customers are no different. That’s why they seek out a consistent customer experience. For them, it’s comforting and attractive when they know what to expect. If you want to keep them, pay attention to this.
Consistency and Emotional Comfort
Most every decision you make is made on an emotional basis. Yes, you’ll find facts and supporting reasons to back it up – but you bought that car because you liked it.
Your job as a business owner is to get customers to like you. Amazingly, even with a sub-par product or average service, you can still get people to like you. Fast food retail franchises know this – and they make it work for them.
Consistency is an Unspoken Contract
Imagine, for a second, that you awarded your employees a generous year-end bonus every year. It’s not in their contract and you never promised it, but you do it anyway. Then, one year, without explanation, you decide not to. Would they feel unhappy or even resentful? You bet.
Your customers view your most consistent actions as an unspoken contract, a commitment you’re making. And if you mess with that, they’ll start looking for someone else to commit to.
Play to Your Strengths
The first step in planning for a consistent customer experience is to understand your brand’s strengths. Don’t commit to standards that might wobble because of a weak link in your company. Figure out what you do well – then do it better than anyone else. Even if it’s just one thing, people will be drawn to it and will ‘anchor’ themselves to that expectation.
Oh- and do it with sincerity. As Seth Godin wisely remarked: “It’s easier to love a brand when the brand loves you back.”
6 Steps to Ensure a Consistent Customer Experience
It’s a good idea to have a business framework in place to create a consistent customer experience. Here are 6 simple steps that will help you succeed:
Clearly Define Your Customer Experience Mission Statement
Too many companies have mission statements that are all about themselves. The most successful businesses, however, center their mission statement on the customer. And that’s what you should be doing.
- What is the most valuable thing your brand provides to your customers?
- Is there a promise or a commitment they can rely on?
- Are you clearly articulating the values your customers will be drawn to?
Keep Your Word, Every Single Time
You can’t overstate the importance of this step. No matter what, keep your word and make it happen. Even if it costs you more, it keeps the customer. Your business needs social validation to grow. Remember that your customers are not isolated – they will praise or blame your brand equally quickly. Your company’s reputation is worth any amount of extra effort.
Manage Expectations and Boundaries
Make sure your customers understand what you can and can’t do. Too many customers are alienated because they misunderstand the scope or capacity of your business. Be honest, be friendly, and make sure they’re expecting the right things.
Ensure Employee Buy-In
A disgruntled employee can cause enormous damage – and even sink your business. All it takes is one bad day and one bad mood. Teach your staff the value of patience in customer service. Help your employees understand that customer happiness is their absolute #1 priority. Also, treat them well – because the way you treat them is the way they’ll treat your customers.
Standardize Absolutely Everything
Make sure you have systems and procedures in place to ensure that you offer a consistent customer experience everywhere. Project a consistent tone across your social media channels. Ensure your customer service reps all speak and respond the same way.
Fix Mistakes Fast
Things will go wrong. Inevitably, mistakes happen, no matter how good you are. So, make sure that ‘mistake fixing’ forms part of the consistent customer experience. Your customers should know that even if you screw up, it’ll be fixed quickly and without any hassle.
3 Smart Safeguards of a Consistent Customer Experience
Prevention is better than cure. So, it makes sense to anticipate anything that could go wrong and to minimize negative issues before they occur. Here are 3 smart safeguards:
Reduce Task Friction
Make sure your employees aren’t subjected to endless bureaucracy and pointless nonsense if they have to fix an error. The more steps they face, they more resentment they feel. And the more likely they are to mess your customer around in return.
Make it simple!
Keep Customer Feedback Channels Wide Open
Never shy away from criticism. Customer feedback – especially negative feedback – is a gift! It helps you prevent a recurrence. Welcome it, be completely open to it, and act on it.
Encourage and Reward Initiative
Tony Hsieh, the late CEO of Zappos, was once in a hotel lobby when someone asked how they could get a pizza at 2am. He told them to phone Zappos customer support – and within thirty minutes, they had a pizza delivered to their room. The twist? Zappos doesn’t even do pizza delivery – it’s a retail goods website!
Give your employees permission to fix things fast, even if it seems outlandish at the time. Give them responsibilities and resources – perhaps even an emergency expense account – and equip them to provide astonishing customer service. You’ll reap the rewards.
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