Caffeine can be addictive. But that’s not the reason people go to Starbucks everyday. After all, they can get their coffee just about anywhere — and often, for less money. Instead, they go to Starbucks for the experience: to interact with the friendly barista. To have the barista remember their customized order and prepare their drink exactly as they prefer it. They go to people watch and to run into colleagues or neighbors.
People don’t get addicted to Starbucks coffee, they get addicted to the experience.
In the past several years, customer experience is having a long overdue reckoning in both the B2B and B2C world. Executives are recognizing the vital role that experience plays across the business in determining customer retention, brand loyalty, and recurring revenue.
That’s because customers have more options than ever before. They can research other options with a few clicks — and may even be able to find a cheaper option. But a great experience will keep customers coming back. It differentiates you from your competitors, no matter your industry.
Here are three ways to build a better business experience for your customers.
Know Your Customer
Knowing your customer is the most fundamental rule of customer experience, and yet one of the most misunderstood. Most businesses assume that they know their customer when they try to revamp their customer experience. But this is a dangerous assumption. Many businesses know some of their customers, but not all of them. Businesses assume they all look similar, and yet there are a range of personas and segments that comprise a customer base. Still other businesses know what their customer base looked like six months ago, but not what it looks like today.
But how many businesses have truly put themselves in their shoes? How many have thought about their customer’s daily lives, what their everyday problems are? How many have tried to find out what areas they live, and what stage of life they are in? In order to create the best experience possible, you have to immerse yourself in your customer’s world. Center your experience around solving for a customer’s pain points.
How does one do this? Explore various avenues to “hear” and “see” what customers experience. A range of qualitative and quantitative research methods will help you hone in on opportunity areas: for example, pull data on your customers, but also talk to them. See if you can find ways to shadow them for a day to see how they work and live.
The businesses with the best customer experience clearly define who their customer is and what their pain points are. They build a customer experience around alleviating as many pain points as possible throughout everyday.
Get the Right Internal People and Build the Right Culture
For any business, it’s difficult to get a balance of the right people on your team in order to provide an extraordinary experience. In the B2B world, many companies have strong client-facing employees, but lack the creative talent to bring bold, big picture ideas to the fray. Other companies have the opposite problem. Tilting too much in either direction will hinder your ability to provide a comprehensive experience that caters to all of your customer’s needs.
Work to find the right balance for your company. Take steps to constantly evaluate whether people are in the right roles for their skill sets. And prioritize hiring people with a range of different backgrounds and experiences. Make sure you have employees who are bought into your company’s mission. I know some companies actually offer monetary rewards for those who quit: if it is worth it to employees to leave a company for a few thousand bucks, then they probably weren’t the right fit for the organization. The companies would rather them find a better fit than potentially add toxic culture to their organization.
Most importantly, work to ensure that your employees are fulfilled, feel appreciated, and well supported in their day-to-day work. Your employees are on the front lines with your customers, they are critical to shaping an experience. An employee can’t create a good experience for a customer if they don’t feel supported in their work. If they are burned out or feel unappreciated, that is going to leak into your customer’s experience. We’re not our best versions when we are stressed and overworked — and that will inevitably impact a customer’s experience.
Build your brand from the inside out: to create a great customer experience, first build a great employee experience.
Focus on the Metrics That Matter
My rule of thumb is that no business says “no” to experience. Everyone wants a better experience one way or another. But they have to be open to trying it and seeing and hearing the impact it has.
So how does a company measure the right metrics when it comes to experience?
NPS scores, surveys, churn rate, conversion rate, customer lifetime value, and all the other hard business metrics can provide helpful context. But these metrics are not always so cut and dry, especially for non-digital experiences. Ultimately the experience needs to be tied to the bottom line of revenue and profitability of the company. Flexing the experience lever is a means for customers paying a premium we see that in our lives everyday: companies like Starbucks, JetBlue, and Disney.
At the end of the day a great experience won’t matter if you don’t give your customers what they need. Know the customer’s pain points and needed deliverables from the get go, and make sure they are your north stars. Every conversation, every interaction, should be guided by these goals, ensuring your customer gets the end result they want.
I always tell my team that, at the end of the day, there is only one metric that matters to us. And that is whether a customer becomes a repeat customer. The best experiences make customers not only become repeat customers — but customers for life.
Vlad Anichkin is the Director of Experience at UnitedLex.
This article was originally published on Law.com. To read the full article, click here.