Understanding what customer experience is, is key in delivering it well. So, what’s the definition? Customer experience refers to the perception of the experience a customer (or client!) has with the company at any given time during their relationship together. This refers to any touch point during their journey with you, from the initial inquiry on your website to attending the free webinar, all the way to them receiving the services they pay for.
Whether you realize this or not, but your company too provides a certain customer experience right now. Mine too. Experiences come in all shape and sizes but can be boiled down to good, bad or indifferent (though I prefer to clarify them an unmemorable). A good experience means that your customers had a pleasant time conducting business with you most of the time. Even if a customer does run into an obstacle, how you address it and fix it is also another customer experience.
Why does customer experience matter?
When a customer has a good and positive experience, they will keep coming back. They will keep recommending your business to others too. If they have an unmemorable, indifferent or unremarkable experience, they most likely will go to a competitor. There is nothing keeping them with you, so they will go after a better, shinier offer. Lastly, when a client has a poor experience, you bet they will not return. Hell, they might even badmouth you to anyone who asks. We don’t want the latter two. We want to provide a good experience to have as many happy clients as possible.
Benefits of good customer experience
Like I hinted in the previous section, you want happy customers who had pleasant customer experiences with you because, most importantly, they will keep coming back for more! And that can be invaluable.
Every business invests in marketing and client acquisition. This can be millions of dollars for Super Bowl ads or just $50 bucks on Facebook ads and a webinar. While many businesses focus a lot of energy and resources into converting people and leads into paying clients, not too many of those put the same amount of effort into keeping these clients happy once they have bought the services.
When you invest in providing great customer experiences, you’re investing in recurring revenue, in returning clients, brand advocates, higher retention rates, higher lifetime customer value, and higher customer loyalty. You will save a lot of money on client acquisition as the more recurring clients you have the less room you have for new ones.
Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company, the guys who invented NPS, have done research which claims that improving your customer retention by just 5%, will increase your profits as little as 25% or as much as 95%. That’s incredible.
The experience of losing a customer
I want to talk about a personal story of going to the doctor that will clearly illustrate one way to lose a customer.
I booked a checkup appointment at the doctor’s office via an online service called ZocDoc. Sweet. When I got to the office I naturally had to fill out a shit ton of redundant paperwork. On every single page, the same info: name, date, SSN, insurance card #, insurance account number, and a bunch of other information that ensured they will most certainly get paid and not stiffed.
It’s an annoying fact of life. But that’s a common experience of going to a new doctor and even a new dentist.
Once I was done with the appointment I asked to book a follow-up and the receptionist told me that they only accept appointments via ZocDoc and that they wouldn’t do it for me. By the way, they claimed to be a very high-tech efficient office.
Anyway, this is how it should have happened. They should have emailed me their own form days before the appointment to fill out. I should have been given the information to review, on a tablet, because we’re not wasting paper on this when I arrive at the office. If I failed to fill it out beforehand, hand me a tablet with an easy to answer and fill in form. No redundant information, no wasted paper, no wasted time for someone to type up all the things I just wrote down either!
At the end of the appointment, she should have offered to make a follow-up, like they typically do at a doctor’s office. If the office insists only booking appointment via the ZocDoc app, they still have plenty of options. She could have helped me do it right there and then. Hand me a tablet and ask me to log in if I know the account info. Tell me to take out my phone and schedule it right there and then using the ZocDoc app. She also could have said that “we only book appointments via ZocDoc. I’m going to email you a reminder to do it tonight and again tomorrow with a direct link. This way you can do it while you’re home and have your schedule and calendar right next to you”. Anything, honestly, anything but the “No, do it yourself” I got.
Now, this isn’t an outright bad experience, it’s pretty typical for doctors’ offices to be messy and inefficient. But, as a company, it’s your job to make sure to provide a different and better experience, to delight your customers rather than keeping the terrible status quo alive. If I had the more pleasant experience, you bet I’d be coming back for years to come. Instead, I never went back because the checkup wasn’t mandatory. To hell with that place; if they don’t give a shit, neither do I.
I’m also specifically sharing this one because it’s just so mediocre. Nothing bad happened, per se. But the world is FILLED and I mean FILLED with these kinds of experiences. And I want you to be aware of these so that you don’t allow your own company to let those slide.
They would have stood out so much from the competition if they went out of their way just a little. And, that’s the whole point of customer experience. Your job, as a company, isn’t to follow the status quo, it’s to delight your people. It’s to make sure your clients feel taken care of at every stage of their relationship with you, not just the ones leading up to the credit card swipe.
And now, the 3 ways to improve your own customer service experience
I think by now you should see the value of customer experience for your business. Don’t let me keep you waiting, go ahead and reach through the 3 things you can do today to improve the customer experience for your clients.
1. Provide an alternative to wrong matches
At any given time, people will always be reaching out to you. Whether sending you a tweet for advice or getting on your free strategy calls, there will always be someone who isn’t a true match for your services. For example, I work only with women entrepreneurs who have already established businesses in the spiritual and wellness industries who have big visions. I might reject a potential client for the following reasons:
- they are not an established business but just starting out
- they are not a woman or not in the wellness industry
- I don’t have the capacity to take their project at that time
- they don’t fit my vibe, maybe they don’t have a bigger purpose of helping others and are only in it for the money
For each of these scenarios, I’d suggest an alternative solution to the problem they came to me with. Someone who is just starting their business may not be my ideal client today but they will be in two or three years. So it’s a fantastic opportunity to start fostering a business relationship. Maybe I’d suggest for them to hire a business coach instead and do a Squarespace site for now based on their current needs.
For all the others, I’d refer them to more suited designers. Just because a potential client reached out to you from a niche you don’t support, doesn’t mean they still can’t be a good business relationship!
2. Always follow up
Following up is crucial!!! And I’m talking to all sorts of following up. Let’s take for instance when a client gets the services delivered. The contract is done. Don’t just disappear out of the client’s life, keep following up. How are they doing having received the service? Did they enjoy it, do they have feedback for you? How are they doing a month from now? 6 months from now? This isn’t to make a sale, this is to ask what’s up and show them you still care about them. You’re doing this to keep the relationship going.
If you’re a coach of any kind, follow up on the client’s goals and see where they are 3 or 6 months from finishing their work with you. Ask them about their next goal and how that’s coming along for them.
Follow up with people who ghosted you too; those that never showed up for the call or never responded to your pitch/offer.
Additionally, the people who weren’t a good match for you also should be followed up on! See how they are doing too, see how the referral turned out! You never know who they might know that is actually a perfect client for you that they can refer your way.
3. Learn about your potential clients
Before any call with a lead or potential client. Do your research and homework on them. Get to know their business as best as you can through their current online presence. Do they have any recent interviews or product launches? Look it up!
It will make you seem a lot more dedicated. And, it will also show them you care. This way, the call a lot more personable and any advice you give them will be a lot more accurate also.
Keep an eye out for them while working with them too! They may not care to mention that they were featured in an Inc. article. But, you congratulating them for it without them saying so will go a much further distance. It’s standard relationship building, my friends!
Keeping an eye on the clients after you are done working together is also a great excuse to follow up 😉
I want you to start thinking critically about your business and how it treats your customers. As you saw with my own doctor visit, even seemingly neutral events can have a negative effect. This week, implement one of the three suggestions I just made to improve your customers’ experience.
Next week, I’m going to dive much deeper into the 8 different phases of customer experience. I’ll explain what they are and how service-based businesses like ours can use these phases to our advantage.