The critical importance of customer experience – and how you have the power to shape it: Anne Batty, Paperclip.
This is a blog about the customer journey, customer experience and customer service. It focuses on the importance of communications.
- Firstly, in many of today’s markets where products and services can appear commoditised, customer experience can be the most important differentiator. How well you take care of the customer really matters.
- Secondly, if you choose to be proactive, you can make decisions that positively shape your customers’ experience.
- Thirdly, the ‘journey’ belongs to your customer and needs to be viewed from their perspective.
A note about definitions.
For the purpose of this blog, ‘customer journey’ refers to the steps, tasks, questions and touchpoints on that journey. ‘Customer experience’ includes the needs, emotions and feelings of customers along each step of their buying journey.
The ways you choose to communicate with your customers along the journey is defined as ‘customer service’.
Try Googling ‘customer journey’ and you can find any number of graphics breaking the journey down into a number of steps. I have chosen to adopt a six-stage linear approach shown below:
LTV refers to ‘lifetime value’ which requires customer retention which, in turn, is achieved by consistent delivery of strong customer experience.
Steps 1 & 2) Need and Research
Everyone has needs that aren’t always apparent or obvious. We call these “latent needs”. Companies who deliver products and services that address the problems people don’t currently have, but will do in the future, have a great opportunity to make a sale.
Wrapping Your Values In Your Brand
You want your brand to be recognised by customers, you also want to ensure that your brand conveys the values you want the customer to recall. Paperclip work with leading estate agents. Sales boards, shop displays, sponsorships and CSR activities are just a few of the ways they seek to maintain brand recognition. These methods will activate customers intent.
Once the need switches from latent to active, the customer will start to ‘research’ solutions to their challenge or problem.
There are statistics that claim that almost 80% of all purchasing decisions now start with an internet search. Whatever the exact statistic, we know from our own experiences how often we turn for Google to look for or confirm, a solution. A strong website, active social media presence, blogs (like this one!), and strong offline marketing activities that drive traffic to your site can all help at this stage.
How Paperclip Help Businesses Reinforce Brand Values
Paperclip’s service offering has four dimensions:
- Bookings, appointments and reservations
- telephone answering;
- digital communications support;
During the ‘need’ and ‘research’ phases of the customer journey, Paperclip supports clients by posting social media content (created by the client or a third party), monitoring social media accounts and responding to FAQs posted by prospects (potential customers). Clients also ask us to deal with prospects’ phone calls.
3) Engagement and Purchase
If you have created enough interest and desire for a prospect to contact you, this is classed as ‘engagement’. Next, you arrive at what Google calls the ‘Zero moment of truth’ (ZMOT): the first direct touchpoint between you and your prospective client. This is vital.
Fail to respond to the email, miss the phone call, overlook the webform and you will have wasted all the marketing investment expended to attract the prospect’s attention during the ‘need and research’ phase.
Click here to read Paperclip’s blog on the importance of the ‘Zero moment of truth’.
Engagement is where customer journey, experience and service meet head-on.
Paperclip’s solicitor clients, for example, recognise that capturing that first phone call from a prospect and handling their enquiry with care and compassion effectively will take your competition out of the market.
For many Paperclip clients, engagement and purchase often happen at the same time. For medical professionals such as Dentists, Osteopaths and Chiropractors, engagement is often triggered by word-of-mouth referral. The caller is effectively ‘engaging’ to ‘purchase’ i.e. to book an appointment.
Failure to take that call creates dissonance – doubt – in the prospect’s mind and they may well look elsewhere.
Virtually all of the services provided by Paperclip come into play during engagement and purchase. We take bookings, appointments, viewings and reservations for clients as varied as estate agents, physiotherapists, kennels, tradespeople and more.
Click here to read Paperclip’s blog on the pros and cons of external booking, appointment and reservation systems.
In some cases, we provide telephone answering services to capture those calls missed by the client or their team. Those calls may include responding to FAQs, the resolution of which means the prospect is willing to purchase.
Where clients receive enquiries or orders online, Paperclip provides web chat (Need A Page) to deal with questions and help the prospect with online ordering, delivery and payment stages.
People’s lives and needs are complex, and people buy from people. Even with commodity purchases, there are often service questions that need answering. It is a mistake to try to avoid dealing with the customer service needs of your customers. It will only lead to frustration, resentment and perhaps negative reviews.
5 & 6) Delivery & After Sales
You’ve won the order, received the booking, made the appointment; now you have to deliver on your brand promises.
In terms of customer experience, emotions and feelings are particularly strong at this time. they will be asking themselves a range of questions.
- Have I made the right decision?
- Will the service live up to its billing?
- Should I have spent my money on something else?
For some online services, delivery can be almost instantaneous. However, for most services and products there is a ‘gap’ between purchase and delivery.
Reassurance and Follow-ups
Customers may have to wait for their appointment with the osteopath; the family lawyer’s diary is full for the next three weeks; the house viewing cannot be this Saturday because the vendors are away for the weekend; Fido’s visit to the kennels isn’t for another three weeks.
Providing support and reassurance during this phase of the customer journey is particularly important to maintain buyer confidence. Once delivery and consumption of the product or service has taken place, the best companies check whether they have met the customer’s expectations.
Why Follow up?
If there are problems they can be nipped in the bud and, if the service has been good, there may be the opportunity for a repeat sale, referral opportunity or testimonial/review. By providing a follow-up service you expand your relationship with the client, and if done well, increase their trust in your brand. You’ll be more likely to keep your customers if they trust you and feel they are cared about.
Customer LTV / Lifetime Value
The cost of customer acquisition is high and part of the justification for that expenditure is maintaining strong customer retention. The aim is to maximise the customer’s lifetime value (LTV).
Although the diagram earlier in this article showed a linear process, the customer journey is actually circular.
Each repeat sale either strengthens or weakens the customer’s loyalty to your brand and willingness to advocate for it.
Customer experience never sleeps!
If you enjoyed the article, here’s how Paperclip can help your business improve your customer experience.
- Paperclip undertakes customer satisfaction reviews by phone on behalf of many of its clients. Does the delivery match the expectation?
- Paperclip delivers administrative support and provides invoicing, credit control, data entry and mail fulfilment on behalf of clients.
- Click here to read our blogs on how you can get the most from engaging an external telephone answering service provider.
Want To Know More?
Talk to us about how Paperclip can enhance your customer experience and increase customer lifetime value. Phone us on 01246 418 181. We’re ready to take your call.