When was the last time you had a great experience with a business?  Maybe you walked into a store and the salesperson knew your name, or answered your questions honestly, or helped you save a few dollars. Perhaps you visited a website and were greeted by a live chat agent who helped you solve a protracted problem, or you found content that gave you the exact information you needed.

Now think about the last time you had a bad experience. Maybe it was a store salesperson who ignored you, an email thanking you for your patronage from a business you'd never heard of, or a website that was impossible to navigate.

Which company is going to get your business? Which one will you trust? Which one will you have nice things to say about to your friends and neighbors? That's an easy question to answer — and that's the power of customer experience.

WHAT IS CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE?

Customer experience isn't a one-off proposition. It's the collective interactions each customer has with your business, whether that's on your website, through your customer service representatives, or in your brick and mortar store. In this sense, creating a positive customer experience is similar to effective branding — every touchpoint should deliver essentially the same message about the personality of your business and demonstrate how it can guide your customers to products and services that solve their problems.

HubSpot provides a useful definition of customer experience, and why it's so important:

"The best way to define customer experience is as the impression you leave with your customer, resulting in how they think of your brand, across every stage of the customer journey. Multiple touchpoints factor into the customer experience, and these touchpoints occur on a cross-functional basis."

HOW IMPORTANT IS A POSITIVE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE?

Creating a positive customer experience bolsters your reputation, polishes your brand, and fosters both customer loyalty and customer trust. More importantly, effectively leveraging a positive customer experience increases customer retention, boosts customer satisfaction, and provides more opportunities for cross-selling and upselling, adding to your profitability.  Providing a strong customer experience both reinforces your brand and adds to the bottom line.

Consider for example these instructive metrics from SuperOffice

  • B2B companies rank customer experience ahead of content marketing, video marketing, and social media marketing as the most important marketing opportunity in 2020 (Econsultancy Digital Trends Report)
  • Almost 90% of consumers say they'll spend more with companies that deliver a strong customer experience
  • By 2020, customer experience will be more important than either price or product as the key brand differentiator
  • More than two-thirds of businesses now compete primarily on the basis of customer experience
  • Businesses that invest in customer experience see a 70% increase in profits on average within 3 years of making that investment
Related: 7 Ways to Thank Your Customers Throughout the Year

WHAT ARE THE BEST WAYS TO CREATE A STRONG CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE?

Every business is different, with different customers and different marketing challenges. However, there are some customer experience strategies that transcend those differences, working for the majority of companies that employ them.

1.  Find Out Where You Are  

The first step to improving customer experience is to take stock of what customers think of your business now. You can do that by:

  • Using customer satisfaction surveys
  • Gathering data on the reasons customers abandon your business
  • Providing customer feedback channels (like social media forums and email surveys)
  • Analyzing ticket data from your customer service team.

2.  Go Mobile

More than half of all searches now take place on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. If your website isn't mobile-friendly, mobile users will have a hard time navigating it. That's the very definition of a weak customer experience.

3.  Get Intuitive

If customers need to figure out how to get from one place to another on your website, you've already lost them. The same goes for websites with an excess of annoying popups, those that take too long to load, and those without clear contact information. To get a bead on how your site stacks up, take a look at HubSpot's "17 Things People Absolutely Hate About Your Website." To enhance customer experience, you need a website that both avoids these common mistakes and is easy and intuitive to use.

4.  Leverage Customer Experience Management Tools

You'll find a wealth of online tools to monitor and improve customer experience.  Some of the best are IBM's Tealeaf, Satmetrix, and HubSpot's Service Hub. These software tools will help you identify what you're doing wrong — and suggest the best ways to fix those problems.

Providing exemplary customer experience will reinforce your brand, generate customer loyalty, enhance your marketing efforts, and increase your profitability — but it can also be confusing and overwhelming. Fortunately, there are marketing experts who can give you the guidance you need to succeed.

To learn more about the ways Ironmark can bolster your brand, enhance your marketing, and take your business to the next level, contact us today. 

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Written by Samantha Philipson

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