If the latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI), released by the Institute of Customer Service, is anything to go by, some brands are streets ahead when it comes to delivering an excellent customer experience.
Amazon has moved into the top spot in this year’s table and other well-known brands such as John Lewis, Waitrose, Nationwide and M&S Food are also among the top performers.
These brands know that with consumer expectations rising across all market sectors, customer experience has become a key differentiator.
For dominant brands seeking to strengthen their market position and newcomer brands trying to cut themselves a niche, the challenge is the same – how to make CX improvements that will get them noticed.
Here’s some practical advice for marketers and CMOs on how to achieve this:
Handle issues efficiently
The growing use and availability of online reviews and other feedback means that just one example of poor customer service can have a damaging and lasting effect on a brand.
One of the main areas of complaint is a lack of responsiveness. When consumers make the effort to report a problem they want to know that it is going to be dealt with quickly and efficiently.
When delivering such front-line communications, call handlers must show that they understand the problem and tell the customer what they are going to do about it.
They should offer to stay in touch with the customer to update them on any progress. When the matter is resolved, the customer will judge the brand on how it dealt with the situation
Make sure you understand what customers want
Brands that deliver a positive and memorable customer experience usually have a good understanding of what their customers want. Gathering survey information can help but data-based insights about buyer preferences can be even more valuable.
Amazon has listened to customers and adapted its offering to meet their requirements.
Firstly, it has introduced AmazonFresh, an online food delivery service for Prime customers in the London area and secondly, it has launched of its own direct-to-consumer fashion brands.
According to Amazon, these initiatives aim to deliver a customer experience that consumers have already come to expect from the brand, which is based on fast delivery, choice and a low price point
Customers increasingly expect communications messages to be personalised and many brands, including the main supermarkets, are doing this with customised promotions and discounts.
Finding out what customers really think about the service they have received is not as easy as it sounds
In other markets, challenger brands are getting noticed and growing market share by using innovative web-based systems and technologies to share personalised and relevant information with customers in an engaging way.
For example, OVO Energy’s early success in the energy services marketplace is in part due to its distinctive use of user-friendly, customised dashboards displaying personalised information and graphics
Make life easy for the customer
More websites are using instant messaging or ‘live chat’ to help resolve customer-related issues. Such tactics demonstrate strong responsiveness and make it as easy as possible for customers to contact the brand quickly when needed.
Customer buying journeys can also be streamlined to make them easier to navigate – reducing the number of clicks to purchase – and the adoption of contactless payment technologies and Apple Pay are fast becoming essential.
Consider bots and apps
in an increasingly mobile-first world, brands are demonstrating that they are willing to experiment. For example, some are using bots to trial new ways of ordering products or services via Facebook Messenger.
Domino’s Pizza recently launched a particularly personable chatbot known as ‘Dom the pizza Bot’ who has turned the simple act of ordering pizza into a novel experience.
Apps that identify when consumers are close to a specific retail store are also enticing consumers through the door by sending them tailored communications about relevant offers and events.
Harness data-based insights
Finding out what customers really think about the service they have received is not as easy as it sounds.
When used skilfully, surveys and client feedback questionnaires can be used to draw out qualitative and quantitative data to help brands identify what matters most to customers. This in turn can help them to do things better in the future.
Data-based insights can also be used to help personalise communications messages for individual consumers.
Despite some initial concerns that some consumers may be put off by what they see as an intrusion of privacy, recent research has shown that the majority are more than happy to share personal information if there is some tangible benefit to their shopping experience.