As of today, 2022 is behind us. It was quite a year. Some businesses are still recovering from the impact of the pandemic, and then came employment issues, supply-chain problems and a shaky economy. All that makes for a company’s leaders having to use every skill they ever learned in their careers.
Our CX research indicated that 2022 was worse for customer service than the prior year. So we don’t continue that trend in 2023, I’ve created a list of tactics to help you. And while these may seem basic, they are essential to your organization’s success. With that in mind, here are ten ways that you can rock the customer experience in 2023:
1. Manage First and Last Impressions – There may not be anything more basic than this. Start with a strong first impression—and not just the first time a customer interacts with you. It could be the 500th time. First impressions set the tone for whatever is to follow, be it the first interaction or the 500th. As for last impressions, be sure to end strong. Last impressions create lasting impressions.
2. Give Back – Customers gravitate toward companies and brands that give back. Forty-five percent of the customers we surveyed in our annual customer experience research said that a company that gives back to the community or stands for a social cause is important to them. That’s almost half of your customers.
3. Be Customer-Focused – My definition of customer-focused is more than just delivering a good customer service experience. In addition to paying attention to customer service and CX, every decision you make keeps the customer in mind. Even if you are considering a change that will negatively impact the customer, you think it through, understand the ramifications and strategize how to overcome or handle the decision’s impact.
4. Empower Your Employees – If you want to keep your best employees and want them to take care of your customers, you need to hire good people, train them to do their job and then let them do it. Customers become frustrated when they encounter employees who aren’t able to make smart decisions. By the way, employees become frustrated as well, and that’s not good for the culture.
5. Practice Proactive Customer Service – This how you create customer confidence. Reach out to them proactively if you know of a problem. For example, the cable company that reaches out to its customers to let them know about an outage before they turn on their TV or computer. Or the retailer that emails, texts or calls a customer to let them know their purchase is delayed. While nobody likes bad news, knowing in advance gives the customer a sense of control and knowledge that the company is working on the problem.
6. Make It Personal – Find ways to personalize the experience. Customers like to be recognized and remembered. Make your customers feel as if you know them.
7. Have an Abundance Mindset, Especially When It Comes to Time – Zig Ziglar used to say, “You will get all you want in life if you help other people get what they want.” In this case, help customers get the most out of their experience with you and your products. That may mean spending a little more time selling, supporting and relationship-building with your customers. One of the big “loyalty killers” in business is when employees rush a customer to get to the next customer. Customers know it, feel it and don’t like it. An extra minute or two can be the difference between a customer coming back—or not.
8. Be Convenient – Eliminate anything (or at least as much as you can) that causes friction. Don’t make customers wait, don’t make them go through extra steps or do anything that is in the least bit inconvenient. Seventy percent of the customers we surveyed said they would pay more for convenience, and 68% said a convenient experience alone will make them come back.
9. Practice the “Employee Golden Rule” – My Employee Golden Rule goes like this: Do unto employees as you want done unto your customers. In other words, treat the people you work with as well (if not better) than your customers. That sets the tone from the inside and is felt by the customer on the outside.
10. Be Helpful – Ace Hardware is known as “The Helpful Hardware Place.” That’s their secret sauce. It separates them from their direct competitors (Home Depot, Menards, Walmart, etc.). I was interviewing an Ace executive for one of my customer service books, and he said, “Our competition has friendly customer service. So do we, but we also provide helpful service.” Think about how to help your customers be more successful when they buy whatever it is you sell.
BONUS: Show Appreciation – Don’t ever forget to say, “Thank you.” It doesn’t matter if it’s in person, on the phone, a text or an old-fashioned, hand-written note. Customers must always know you appreciate them for their business.
Some of these ideas may seem basic—even common sense. Maybe they are, but they are also essential to delivering the experience that gets customers to say, “I’ll be back!”