Traditionally, brand differentiation has been mostly dominated by two factors: price and product.
In today’s dynamic world of products and services, simply having a better price or product just won’t cut it anymore. If you want to get ahead, you need to put your best foot forward: your experience.
Customer experience is an opportunity that unfortunately many businesses are yet to tap into. By truly focusing on the experience that your store/business can provide, this puts you on the path to establishing real, emotional connections with your customers. These emotional connections are extremely powerful, because they are what will keep your customers coming back for more than just the product or service that you’re offering.
The value of a memorable customer experience has never been higher, which is why it is critical for businesses to learn how to harness this tool so that they can stand out from the crowd and make a positive, lasting impression.
But how is this made possible?
1. Let’s Get Personal, Personal
Personalisation is a big piece in the customer experience pie. It’s all about recognising the uniqueness of each customer and putting strategies into place that cater to their uniqueness. One example commonly used is personalised promotion emails, where a customer will receive news and updates based on the items they have been browsing or purchasing regularly. The result? The customer will recognise that your company puts the time and effort into making your promotions relevant to them, which will give your business an edge over other competitors who aren’t already doing this.
Another strategy could be introducing an option where your customers can take part in personalising their own product, particularly in the design process. Depending on your type of business, there will always be at least one way you can work towards showing your customers that you can provide them with personal touches that go above and beyond what is expected.
2. Stimulate the Senses
Your ambience is a direct reflection of your brand. It takes more than a clean and orderly store/site to win your customers over. Once you have identified who your target customer is, your store/site should be made specifically for this target customer.
As much as we would like to, we can’t please everybody, so it is much more effective to work towards attracting the customers you want to shop with you rather than trying to please the ones you don’t. The best place to start is to ask yourself, “what do I want my customers to feel?” and from here identify how you can deliver on that feeling in the best way possible. There’s a reason why Disney has millions of people visiting their theme parks every year. It’s because the atmosphere they provide is unparalleled to anywhere else. Naturally, we can’t all be Disney, but we can still find methods that work without having to fork out on rollercoasters and castles.
3. Validate the Customer
If a customer knows that every time they shop with you they’re going to receive the royal treatment, you can well and truly tick loyalty off your list. Often, companies get caught up in the numbers and forget all about the people who make up those numbers.
Demonstrating to customers that you appreciate what they do for your business is invaluable, and it doesn’t take a crazy big gesture to make this happen. If anything, it is more beneficial to implement smaller, more frequent measures to make this appreciation known, rather than a one-off Happy Birthday voucher.
This could mean developing a loyalty program that not only recognises when their date of birth is, but how long they’ve been with shopping with you for and thanking them on a regular basis for their loyalty. If a customer knows that they matter to you, they will continue to shop with you, which is why customer appreciation is crucial to driving growth and retention.
4. Listen Out
We’ve all been in a situation where we’ve felt like our opinion doesn’t matter, and the sad reality is that many customers are left to feel this way on a regular basis. Listening is a vital component of customer experience because it proves to the customer that you care enough to prioritise their opinion.
Listening also alerts your business to any recurring pain points that customers are experiencing, as well as if they are dissatisfied because they feel like a competitor is doing something better. By listening and acting on this feedback, this will increase the likelihood of a customer spreading positive word of mouth about your business rather than a negative customer review. If a customer can see that changes are being introduced based on their feedback, they will continue to invest their time, energy and money into your company instead of another who is unable to do the same.
5. Be True
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what you say- it’s about what you do. You could have all the bells and whistles put into place to make your company look like it’s the cream of the crop, but if your customers can sense that you’re in any way fake or dishonest, you’re toast.
An authentic customer experience is one that mirrors what your brand stands for and delivers the type of experience you say you provide. You need to be able to consistently deliver this experience so that customers can put their trust in you without question.
Transparency is also a big deal, so if you can make your mission and beliefs clear with your customers and remain upfront with your actions, this will help to earn their trust. Trust takes time, but once earned, they won’t feel the need to go looking for it anywhere else.
The list goes on. There’s more than one way to deliver a stellar customer experience, but once the right strategies are in place, they all lead to the same destination: an undisputable competitive advantage. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a small, medium or large business.
Customer experience is a necessity in every business regardless of size, and if harnessed correctly, it can become your very own secret weapon to not only get your business ahead of the crowd, but to make it stay there.
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