If you go on a cruise, you’re probably hoping for smooth seas instead of the kind of churning sea that makes your stomach do backflips. It’s the same thing with customer experience in a business. Not every business operates exactly the same way. But you can guarantee that no enterprise on the planet wants unnecessary retention problems as concerns the people it does business with.
When it comes to stability in this area, one of the metrics a business can look at is customer churn, referring to the turnover of customers or, more precisely, the percentage of customers who stop using a particular service over a certain time period. A high customer churn can be a strong indicator that there are problems with a business: particularly when it’s a business that should be getting repeat custom.
One way to smooth out the customer experience is by finding ways to reduce the pain points felt by those who do business with you. While not every commercial interaction has to be fun (we’re not doing retail therapy 24/7!), it also shouldn’t be such an impediment that customers are left wondering if the product they’re getting is worth the effort of getting it. Customers will additionally spend more money when they have a positive customer experience.
Here are four tips for improving the customer experience.
Minimize the steps
Ever wonder why Amazon’s one-click payment process was considered such a game-changer that Apple licensed the patent for $1 million? Answer: Because it’s virtually impossible for a transaction to be simpler than that.
Businesses should look for ways to maximize the ease with which transactions and other interactions can occur.
For example, how many steps are involved in a buying process? What is the typical amount of button presses or clicks, or the average length of time a customer must wait for a response from a chatbot, live chat, or customer service agent? How easy is it to reach you via the Contact Us page on your website? How about customers wanting to click through to answer a Call-to-Action on a marketing email?
Constantly seek out ways to simplify these processes. It will highlight the attention to detail that you pay as an organization.
Personalize the experience
If you go buy a fitted, tailored suit, you expect a personalized experience. All businesses can’t offer quite that same level of bespoke one-on-one time between vendor and customer. But it is possible to personalize the customer experience to a significant degree.
Big data can help you to better understand your customers and tailor services to them. That could mean addressing them by name, recommending them products that are likely to appeal to them based on past purchases, or other personalized content. All of these will make customers more likely to engage with, and trust, a brand than one that treats all customers the same.
Treating customers like individuals, rather than a homogenized mass, will reduce customer churn by building a bond between businesses and the people they serve. You can also utilize customer churn prediction analytics tools to help predict when customers may churn — so that you can take advance steps to intervene.
(Truly) empower your employees
Every business would like to say it empowers employees. But, in some cases, ceding control from the top can be tough. As a result, employees have to run every decision past multiple levels within a company, slowing down interactions with customers and resulting in employees feeling less empowered.
Giving employees the ability to fulfill requests without having to transfer customers elsewhere, or make discretionary calls that can result in a better customer experience, can make a big difference when it comes to how customers experience your service. This will also make it easier to retain employees by showcasing that you trust their instincts and decision-making. It all adds up to a more frictionless way of operating.
Make small changes, not big ones
Keeping your business offerings fresh is vitally important. But so is keeping things familiar. It can be a tough balance, but one that — executed correctly — will help smooth out the customer experience and reduce churn. Listening to feedback and making continuous small tweaks to improve your service is, of course, a good thing.
However, think twice about making regular sweeping changes like totally reengineering your website or the portal through which users carry out their business. The psychological phenomenon known as the Mere Exposure Effect means that people’s preference for a certain option increases the more times they see it. Making a website or transaction workflow radically different from the one that customers are used to may therefore be viewed as a negative — and a “jumping off” point that could result in customer churn.
This can be tricky to get right — since familiarity breeds both comfort and contempt — but it’s worth keeping in mind as you make efforts to stay fresh.