Over the 10 years working with leading global brands, we’ve learned that sometimes it’s executing the basics well that allows brands to break through to new levels of success. Here are some of the key lessons we’ve taken from our retail and hospitality programmes on improving customer experiences:
- Customers are eager to connect with businesses they frequent.
85% of consumers are willing to provide feedback to the retailers they frequent. The challenge is ensuring their feedback is acknowledged and acted upon. Sadly, the same study showed that only 29% believe this feedback is used to improve the customer experience.
- Drive response rates to ensure an appropriate sample size.Insights are only as good as the data sample being analysed. While many customers will be proactive in providing feedback, some will need added incentives like discounts or a sweepstake entry.
- Customers vary – so should feedback mechanisms they are offered. Whether it’s younger customers consolidating all their communication on a mobile device or an older person wanting to use a landline telephone, feedback programmes need to take into account customers’ technology preferences.
- It is often the little things that define the best experiences. It’s often the subtle factors that lie just beneath the surface of the obvious drivers of satisfaction that separate merely good experiences from truly great ones. Understanding those is key to moving experiences from good to great.
- A survey shouldn’t be an interrogation. Feedback starts with asking the right questions. The right questions should always be personal to both your brand and your customers. You need to focus on your own brand strengths and exploit competitors’ weaknesses.
- Commitment and focus are the first steps in driving change. All employees of a brand need to be engaged and accountable. The real key is in changing the behaviour of front line staff to prioritise the areas that will have the most impact, focus on specific improvements and follow through with a tangible level of commitment.
- Delivering great experiences is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s only with that consistency built up over the lifespan of the customer relationship can lasting loyalty be built – the type of loyalty that can translate into advocacy.
- Brand insights can reveal the keys to future success. Customer feedback can serve to answer three basic questions: How are we performing as a brand in the eyes of our customers? What is broken or needs improvement in how we are executing? Where should we be headed next, to stay top of mind with customers?
- Multiple channels, one experience. Brands must provide a consistent experience, delivering the same brand promise at each point of their customers’ journey. Feedback programmes can ensure each channel is consistent with the desired brand experience, enabling businesses to maintain a strong brand identity across what may be disparate parts of their operations.
- Drive advocacy by engaging the social consumer. Once brands have invested in a customer experience management programme, it is important to convert loyal customers into brand advocates by making it easy for them to share their positive brand experiences via social media platforms.
Customer feedback programmes have at their heart a simple goal – connecting brands with their customers whose support is their lifeblood. By opening up this vital channel of communication not only can brands get a view into how they are delivering in the eyes of their customers, but also unlock their own formula for ensuring they can sustain their success on an ongoing basis – at every location, in every department, on every shift.
About the Author:
Gary is responsible for Empathica’s operations in EMEA. With more than 20 years experience in the market research and customer experience fields, Gary brings a wealth of insight and expertise to his role.