Top-Shelf Tip No. 186:

"Customer service is a voluntary act that demonstrates a genuine desire to satisfy, if not delight, a customer."

Steve Curtin

Seven Ways To Create A Customer Experience Strategy

Customer experience was identified as the single most exciting opportunity for businesses according to the 2017 Digital Marketing Trends Report by Econsultancy and Adobe. But what is it? Customer experience (CX) is the interaction between a customer and an organization throughout their business relationship. This interaction can be awareness, discovery, advocacy and, of course, purchases of products or services.

Why is the customer experience so important? Customer experience impacts the willingness of a customer to be a loyal advocate for the business. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share seven key tips for creating a customer experience strategy for your business, from Steve MacDonald of Superoffice.com.

1. Create a clear customer experience vision. The first step is to have a clear customer-focused vision that you can communicate with your organization. The easiest way to define this vision is to create a vision statement that acts as a guide post and drives the behavior of your organization. Every member of your team should know these principles by heart and they should be embedded into all areas of training and development.

2. Understand who your customers are. Bring to life the different types of customers for your organization. If your organization is going to clearly understand customer needs and wants, then they need to be able to connect and empathize with the situations that your customers face. For example, Anne is 35 years old; she likes new technology and is tech savvy enough to follow a video tutorial on her own, whereas John (42 years old) is more comfortable following clear instructions on a web page. This will help your employees to better understand the customer.

3. Create an emotional connection with your customers. You've heard the phrase "it's not what you say; it's how you say it." The best customer experiences are achieved when a member of your team creates an emotional connection with a customer. You want to create "wow" moments for your customer—moments of emotional connection. Customers become loyal because they are emotionally attached and they remember how they feel when they use a product or service. According to Gallup research, a business that optimizes for an emotional connection outperforms competitors by 85 percent in sales growth.

4. Capture customer feedback in real time. How can you tell if you are delivering a wow customer experience ? You need to ask—and ideally you do this by capturing feedback in real time through surveys and other tools, such as outbound calls. It's important to tie customer feedback to specific customer support roles, which shows that every team member makes a difference.

5. Use a quality framework for development of your team. By tying customer feedback to individuals in the organization, you can see where to emphasize quality and development. Use a quality framework to track your team's development through coaching, group training and even e-learning.

6. Act upon regular employee feedback. Do you conduct an internal employee pulse survey every year? What happens with the results? Usually nothing, until the next survey. Instead, use a tool like this to get ideas from your employees for improving the customer experience. In fact, set up a channel for employees to provide continuous feedback throughout the year.

7. Measure the ROI from delivering great customer experience. Measurement is key, but this can often be a daunting task. One popular customer experience measurement tool is the "Net Promoter Score" or NPS, which collects valuable information by asking a single, straightforward question: "Would you recommend this company to a friend or relative?"

NPS, created by Rob Markey and Fred Reichheld at Bain and Company, is simple to implement and measure.

PCT returns to your inbox on Monday. Now that's a customer experience you can count on.

Source: Steven MacDonald is a professional blogger, content strategist and data-driven marketer who currently blogs at SuperOffice.com.

Compiled by Cassandra Johnson