“Well, I’m never going there again.”
Those are words you hope to never hear regarding your business. It can, unfortunately, happen.
That phrase is proof positive that your business failed in its mission to provide a quality experience. You spent years of your life learning and developing your skills but sometimes the customer’s experience can fall short based on something other than those skills. These negative experiences, for the sake of your business, are hopefully few and far between.
If they do happen though, there are steps you and your employees can take to make sure they don’t happen often. These steps are not a list of best practices, but rather a guide on how to be intentional about each interaction with prospective or current customer, patients and clients. By being more intentional you can improve your business’ overall quality and reputation.
In short, it is a guide on why and how your practice or business can be intentional about providing the best Customer Experience.
What is Customer Experience
Customer Experience, or CX in business parlance, is not just a marketing phrase touted by business professors or consultants. Neither is it your customer’s satisfaction with the medical, dental, legal or other professional services you provide.
So what is Customer Experience? If we clearly define Customer Experience, it is, the cumulative impact across every interaction with your business as experienced by each of your customers, patients or clients. The specific interactions, however limited or brief, are called “touchpoints.” All of the touchpoints combine to create the overall “customer journey.”
Customer Experience, then, is the end result of how your customer feels about your business, as a whole, throughout the entire journey. Notice that it is centered on how the customer feels. Customer Experience incorporates the emotional experience which is just as important as the functional experience of the service rendered.
Touchpoints can be something as big as the actual service the customer is receiving or as limited as visiting your website. Touchpoints can be direct, such as a scheduling call where there is give and take between a member of your staff and the customer, or indirect, such as an informal referral from one friend to another recommending your business.
Not only can the touchpoints be direct or indirect, but they can take place across multiple channels. These could be as diverse as a telephone call, a website visit from a smart phone, looking up your Google or other internet reviews, or an actual in person visit. Each of these individual touchpoints has a cumulative effect on how your business will be perceived by your customers.
The final end goal should be to supply a service in an authentic way that meets the needs of a customer in an emotionally positive experience. That is being clear on the best Customer Experience definition and being intentional about it can greatly improve your business.
Why Should You Care about Customer Experience Strategy
In today’s economy where prospective customers can search for entire local industry and instantly see reviews of your business and your competitors, it is no longer enough to compete on quality or price, but you also need to compete on the entire customer journey.
In fact, 55% of consumers are willing to actually pay more for a better experience. You need to be intentional about the whole process from first contact to repeat visits. Those repeat visits can be a boon to your business. It is 6-7 times cheaper to keep customers than it is to acquire new ones.
According to research conducted by Bain & Company, 80% of businesses think they are already providing a “superior experience.” Customers, however, felt that only 8% of companies deliver on that level. Since Customer Experience is determined from your customer’s perspective, they have the final say on whether your business is meeting their expectations. There is clearly a disconnect between owners and customers.
By caring about Customer Experience analysis and introducing intentional changes to manage your customer, patient and client’s journeys, your business can, according to the Harvard Business Review, reap enormous rewards such as:
- Enhanced customer satisfaction,
- Reduced customer churn,
- Increased your revenue,
- Increased employee satisfaction, and
- Increased collaboration across all functions of your business.
Specifically, McKinsey & Company observed that a “10% uptick in satisfaction leads to 2-3% revenue increase” and that “emotionally engaged customers are typically 3 times more likely to recommend a product and purchase it again.”
Recommendations and referrals are perhaps the best indirect touchpoint your business can foster and it is a natural byproduct of taking a Customer Experience improvement program seriously. If consumers have a good experience at your business, 72% of them will tell 6 or more people about it.
Also, consistently providing a quality Customer Experience design and strategy will lead to more positive and more frequent reviews online. The increase in reviews, both in rating and frequency, make your business more noticeable and attractive to people who are actively searching for a new provider in your industry.
In short, by taking Customer Experience analysis seriously, you have the opportunity to significantly increase your business’ quality and profitability.
How to be Intentional about Customer Experience Solutions
The first step in being intentional about your business’ Customer Experience training program is to develop Customer Journey Maps. These outline the individual touchpoints that each customer could encounter through their journey.
It is important to break down the touchpoints as specific as possible, and whether they are direct or indirect. Some examples of the specific touch points could be:
- Visiting your website,
- Finding your business through Google or another search engine,
- Word of mouth referrals,
- Scheduling an appointment by phone, email, or software,
- A phone call confirming an appointment,
- Customer, patient or client intake,
- Sitting in the office waiting room,
- Delivering the actual service, or
- Follow up after delivery of the service.
Once the specific touch points have been identified, they can be arranged in the order a customer takes over their whole journey. Different types of transactions will have different maps so it is important to develop a few different ones depending on the services you offer.
With the maps completed, you can next delineate how each touchpoint connects to the next. The goal is to make each transition as smooth and easy for your customers as possible.
It is also important to think about what perception you want to impart from each touchpoint and how each member of your staff can help in that perception. Every interaction, no matter the level, should have some form of intentionality infused into it.
However, it is also imperative that you do not overly focus on the touch points at the expense of the journey. Each touchpoint should blend into and add to the journey in a logical and consistent manner.
How to Improve Customer Experience
You can improve your business’ cumulative customer experiences “across multiple touchpoints and in multiple channels over time.” This does not mean, however, that you have to change everything about your business.
The simple act of deciding to be intentional about how to improve Customer Experience is often just enough to get the ball rolling. It is also best to start with the simplest and easiest ways to improve Customer Experience.
One way to implement an intentional Customer Experience design is by adopting new digital solutions. These can make collecting payments from customers easier. They can also make the process of scheduling and onboarding new customers a smoother process. Each touchpoint can be looked at to see if it could benefit from a new technological solution.
The adoption of digital solutions, according to McKinsey & Company, is only going to become more important. This is especially true since the number of inbound calls are constantly falling while there is an ever-increasing reliance on digital communications and interactions.
When implementing technology solutions, it is important to do it seamlessly and ensure they can be scaled to your needs. Technology, however, cannot be the only solution. In order to truly maximize Customer Experience training, a good balance between automation and human communications should be established.
When it comes to human communications, one business that can be instituted is to make sure that each employee that has contact with customers actively engages them. This is important for them to feel taken care of but also for feedback.
If a customer, patient or client has a bad Customer Experience, only 1 out of 26 will actually raise the issue. The rest of them just won’t come back to your business. Of those customers who don’t come back, 67% of that loss is preventable if the issue was resolved right away.
Perhaps the best thing you can do when it comes to how to improve Customer Experience is to have your employees focus on Customer Experience as well. Once they are on board with and understand the importance of the customer journey, they can impact each touchpoint in a real and positive way. Each interaction is an opportunity to improve the overall journey through a better customer experience improvement program.
McKinsey & Company provides a few guiding principles on how best to develop employees so they reinforce a positive Customer Experience:
- Listen to and help your employees with their needs and wants so they can better focus on customer service,
- Hire employees based more on their attitude than their aptitude since skills can be learned but good customer service starts with a proper attitude,
- Share your Customer Experience training goals with your employees instead of only demanding specific rules of behavior,
- Give employees autonomy and responsibility and let them develop best practices to help improve Customer Experience, and
- Hire employees that can navigate multiple channels of communication.
Another way to help improve Customer Experience design in your business is to engage your customer, client and patient’s senses. This can best be accomplished in your waiting or conference rooms. The overall scents, sounds, and sight, something as simple as fresh flowers, can help add up to the best Customer Experience possible.
Each of these changes or enhancements should work together across the entire journey. In all, remember it is about customer or patient perception so you are trying to make things seamless and easier on the customer.
How to Keep Customer Experience Central in Your Business
Customer Experience management is about instituting new policies and continuing to develop them further. It should become a continuous way of running your business. Staff participation should be central which should set up a “systemic cultural emphasis” on the front-line employees helping to foster Customer Experience.
Each touchpoint needs to be able to adapt to different customer expectations. Flexibility and fluidity are needed for each customer journey. Each one will be slightly different which will require slightly different responses from different levels of staff. Different transactions in different organizations will require different processes.
Intentionally running your business with a clear focus on the Customer Experience definition also means you cannot set up completely rigid structures that cannot be changed from customer to customer because each customer will have different expectations.
Some customers will respond better to phone calls, texts, or emails, and your business should be able to support each customer’s preferences. By tailoring your processes slightly to each of their preferences, you can really show them that your business values them as individuals.
Finally, as technology continues to advance and reliance on digital solutions also grows, your business needs to be intentional about information and customer’s data security. Making sure your customers know their information is secure is just as much a part of Customer Experience analysis as anything else.
Customer Experience Metrics & Measurements for Success
There are three ways to measure how your business is performing when it comes to a better Customer Experience. These are:
1) Customer Satisfaction (CSat),
2) Net Promoter Score®[i] (NPS), and
3) Customer Effort Score (CES).
Each of these Customer Experience metrics are not only informative, they help you to get a leg up on your competition. 70% of the best businesses in Customer Experience use feedback metrics, such as these.
Customer Satisfaction (CSat) measures customer satisfaction on a percentage scale from 0 to 100. This is figured by using a survey that asks your customers “How satisfied are you with the service you received?” on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being highly satisfied.
Your business’ CSat is the percentage of surveys received that are ranked at the “5” level compared to the total number of responses. So, take the number of “5” responses and divide by the total number of responses expressed as a percentage. Generally, you want your business scoring in the high 80’s or 90’s.
The CSat is a versatile Customer Experience measurement in the fact that you can change the question to determine how you are doing on different aspects of your business so it can determine strengths and weaknesses. Its downsides are that those people who are mildly satisfied or mildly dissatisfied are unlikely to complete the surveys and it does not predict future behavior or loyalty.
Net Promoter Score® (NPS) measures how likely someone is to recommend your business to someone else. This is figured by using a survey that asks your customers “How likely are you to recommend our business to family or friends?” on a scale from 1-10 with 10 being most likely. The responses are classified in three groups: 9-10 are Promoters, 7-8 are Passives, and 0-6 are Detractors.
Your NPS can range from -100 to +100. This is calculated by figuring out the percentage of responses for each category compared to the total number of responses received, then subtracting the Detractor percentage from the Promoter percentage. Generally, anything in the positive range is good, with +50 being excellent.
The NPS is a beneficial Customer Experience measurement because it is limited to one question so it is likely that customers will respond to the question. Its downsides are that it is only one question so it presents a limited focus on your business and it does not guarantee that your customers will actually recommend your business to someone.
Customer Effort Score (CES) measures how much work the customer had to personally do to receive your service. This is figured by using a survey that asks “How easy did our business make it for you in handling your issue?” on a scale of 1-5 with 5 being very easy.
Your CES is the average of each of the received responses. The closer the average is to 5, the better your business is at interacting with your customers. Generally, any score closer to 4 or lower means your business needs to work on customer interactions.
The CES is a good Customer Experience measurement at determining customer loyalty, but it is limited in that it does not ask what the specific issues are that customers encountered that lowered their score.
There are limitless ways you could phrase the question and different ways you could order the responses.
With all three of the metrics, there could also be issues such as low response rates or random responses not actually reflecting how customers view your business.
These descriptions are quick overviews of the different ways your business can use for Customer Experience metrics to measure success. They are some of the best ways to get a feel for how your business is performing and to measure how your business reputation is improving over time.
Implementing a Customer Experience Improvement Program
Customer Experience is all about how your business is perceived by your customers. It is not just the process of how you deliver your service, but also the emotional connection they feel during the process.
By being intentional and improving your business’ Customer Experience definition and strategy, you can improve your business’ quality and profitability.
[i] Net Promoter Score and NPS are registered service marks of Bain & Company, Inc., Satmetrix Systems, Inc. and Fred Reichheld.