If you want incredibly loyal customers for life (and who doesn’t?), there are a couple of things you need to do. The first is to deliver the value that you promise and solve a real problem they have (duh). The second is that you need to create a fantastic customer experience that at least matches what they expect.
Better yet, your customer experience should exceed their expectations to the point that they become raving fans and refer you to their peers and customers. There’re plenty of resources out there that tell you how to create a great customer experience, but there’s something so many companies miss.
Step 1: Think Creatively and Imagine an 11-Star Customer Experience
Realistically, most of the customer experiences we create are only two or three stars. When we try to create a five-star experience we might only make it to four.
One of the biggest things holding companies back is limited, linear thinking. What if, instead of aiming for five stars, you forgot about everything you know and aimed for 11 stars?
The first step is to watch this video from the founder of AirBnB:
For a lot of people, this video is a bit of an eye-opener. The message here is to throw out the concept of a five-star customer experience being the ultimate goal. Instead, think outside the box about what an 11-star customer experience could look like and then work backwards from this extreme to find the sweet spot of an epic yet feasible customer experience.
This exercise is a ton of fun to do with your team and really gets creativity flowing. There’s no better way to engage your people to think up new and cool ways to wow your customers.
Step 2: Get Useful Feedback on Your Current Customer Experience
To get better insight into how you can improve the customer experience, you need to understand what their experience is currently like. Most good companies go out at the end of a process and ask their customers to give them a net promoter score through a web form. They might get a 10 to 20 percent response rate (if they’re lucky).
This is pretty useless. For most of us, when we fill out a feedback form like that, we remember what happened most recently along with the biggest highs and lows. As a customer, it could be that I remember a big failure at the start of a process but forget about all the good stuff along the way and give you a crappy score because of it.
Does this help you as a business? Probably not as much as it could. What we want to do is start breaking down the value chain to understand each step the customer goes through. Instead of asking for one score at the end, map out the steps that your customer goes through (sales, requirement analysis, etc.). For most businesses, this is less than 6 steps. What if you got real-time customer feedback on each one?
Let’s say you finish the sales phase and sign a contract with a new client. Once your team high-fives and celebrates, the next thing to turn your attention to is getting the customer’s feedback. On your next call with them let them know you are always looking to provide a better experience for your customers, and you’d appreciate them answering two simple questions about the sales process they went through:
- How would you rate your experience from 1 to 10?
- How do you think we could improve things to make it a 12 out of 10?
Now you’re getting honest feedback because the experience is fresh in their minds (and ideally, they are talking to a different person at the company). Now you go to the next step in your process and check in with the customer again at the end of that.
This will show you the high and low points very clearly. Low points provide an opportunity to go in and redesign this customer experience to improve it. High points are ones that you can amplify with creativity. The Heath brothers offer some excellent advice in The Power of Moments about how to celebrate and leverage moments to create richer experiences.
By following these steps, you end up with this detailed process where the feedback helps at each phase instead of just a general score you can’t break down. Every time you improve a score in any of those areas, you’ll strengthen the whole chain and customers are more likely to be happy throughout and less likely to disengage.
How Do You Convince Customers to Give Feedback?
The most common question I get from clients about implementing this strategy is : ‘Are people going to be willing to give us feedback that often?’.
Unsurprisingly, it depends on how you ask for feedback. If you just send a SurveyMonkey questionnaire 14 times during a project, they will almost certainly ignore it.
If, on the other hand, you approach them humbly, set the expectation from the start, and provide clarity about why you’re doing it, why wouldn’t they? It’s advisable to keep it short and tight (under five minutes is a good rule of thumb unless there’s a lot of feedback to discuss). Be incredibly grateful for it all, and they will be more than happy to tell you how you can improve.
Even the act of doing the analysis and getting the feedback itself is something that, when done right, can contribute to creating an amazing customer experience. Being genuinely curious and receptive helps clients feel safe about giving honest feedback and strengthens your relationship which will improve future interactions.
Curious to know more about how business coaching can help you elevate your customer experience? Get in touch.