Whether you’re running a small Mom and Pop shop on Main Street or part of a multi-national, publicly traded enterprise—there is only one great equalizer that impacts every single business.
Customers. We all have them. We all need them. We all want to keep them engaged and happy with our brand—yet many of us struggle to know exactly how to do so.
Fortunately, technology has come a long way in giving us more opportunities to better engage our customers at every point of the journey. At each of these touchpoints, the right technology can help you to connect with your customers faster, keep them happier, and identify and correct any problems that arise more efficiently than ever before.
Touchpoint #1: Your Digital Presence
The very first and often most significant touchpoint that your business has with a prospective customer likely happens completely outside your notice. As “the Google effect” takes over the world and drives more and more customer buying decisions, having a strong digital presence—including your business website as well as social media channels and profiles on online review sites—has become the single most critical factor to creating a positive first impression with potential customers.
In fact, according to a 2013 Corporate Executive Board study, the average B2B buyer gets 57% of the way through their buying decision before they’re even willing to talk to a sales rep. That means if your business’s digital presence isn’t in top shape, you’re losing over half your potential customers before you even know who they are.
Although your customers’ interactions online are primarily driven by the quality of your digital content, don’t underestimate the importance of the back-end technology behind that content.
Does your website load quickly? Is it optimized for mobile devices, and does it display correctly on all internet browsers? Can customers gain efficient access to white papers or other downloadable assets? Make sure you how the servers that propel your website work, how efficient they are, and how to tell if something isn’t quite right.
Touchpoint #2: Telephone Interactions
When potential customers have chosen you as a front-runner in their buying options, they may reach out by phone before you or your team ever sees them in person.
What is the first thing they will hear? Is it a lengthy or outdated telephone message, asking them to choose between 75 options? Will their call go straight to voicemail, waiting to receive a response long after they’ve chosen a nearby competitor who answered the phone right away?
Even after a prospect has become a loyal new customer, telephone interactions are critical to maintaining that customers’ advocacy. According to research from customer experience expert Jay Baer in his book, Hug Your Haters, only 67% of customers are satisfied with telephone response times from businesses. And when those complaints go unanswered, customer advocacy decreases by 51%.
If you’re thinking, “Those numbers definitely don’t apply to my business!” chances are you’re probably long. In fact, Baer’s research found that while 80% of businesses think they deliver superior customer service, only 8% of customers agree.
Don’t assume your customers are satisfied with their phone interactions with your business. Instead, take an objective look and ask yourself, what could be better?
Touchpoint #3: Walking In the Door
Perhaps the easiest and most familiar customer interaction happens the moment your customer walks in your door. Many an entrepreneur has been known to say, “just get me in the room with them!” For many, that face to face interaction is where they really excel.
But is there more you could be doing to create a more satisfying customer experience at your brick and mortar location? In particular, how could you be using technology to improve your customer experiences on-site?
For example, if your customers are likely to spend any amount of time waiting for services at your place of business, the technology you make available is especially important. Doctors’ offices, auto repair shops, or even restaurants, retail shops, or consulting firms can all use technology to make wait times more bearable—and even enjoyable or productive—for customers.
Think about it. A busy customer is more likely to choose your car wash if he knows he can use your complimentary customer WiFi to answer emails on his laptop. The mom of a toddler is less likely to complain about wait times in the pediatrician’s office if her little one is captivated by Elmo’s World on the lobby’s TV. Even in your retail store, a customer will be more likely to follow through with a purchase after comparison shopping on his smartphone to ensure that your product is priced fairly against the competition—especially if you offer him fast and free wireless internet to do so!
Touchpoint #4: Social Listening
As social media becomes an increasing force in the lives of customers, more and more of your customers’ and prospects’ perceived interactions with your business may feel totally out of your control. Increasingly, prospective customers’ first interactions with a business are happening through a third party platform, such as a digital review site like Yelp or a comment from a friend on Facebook or Twitter.
Unfortunately, only 48% of customers who complain on social media are actually looking for help. The rest are simply venting or seeking vengeance through negative word of mouth. But if you’re paying attention, every complaint or concern raised by a customer on your social media channels—or elsewhere on the web—is an opportunity to win over customers.
Using social listening tools, you can identify and address customer complaints related to your business online, even if they’re not made directly to your social channels. These interactions not only give you a chance to solve the individual customer’s problem, increasing their satisfaction and loyalty—they also show your network (and the customer’s) that you go above and beyond to respond to customer needs.
No matter how big or small, how corporate or how personalized your business is—at the end of the day, we’re all just human beings interacting with other human beings. Every interaction isn’t going to be perfect. Problems will arise. Customers will complain. But if you stop, take stock of each touchpoint along your customer journey, and take advantage of the technology at your disposal, you’ll find incredible opportunities to create fantastic experiences for your customers at every turn.
What You Can Do Right Now
Are you ready to create more satisfying customer experiences at every touchpoint of your business? Here are a few ways you can leverage technology to make a great impression at every step of your customer journey:
Make sure your business website is optimized for all internet browsers and mobile devices. Also check average load times for every page on your site.
Pick up your cell phone and call your business telephone number. What do you hear? If you were a brand new prospective customer, would this first impression make you want to buy? What if you were a current customer needing support?
Add customer facing WiFi access to your brick and mortar location. The opportunity to turn wait times into positive customer experiences will be more than worth the cost!
Implement social listening tools to catch and address customer complaints, even when they are not sent directly to your business.