How To Build A Great Customer Experience
The success of every business depends on the satisfaction of the customers they serve. Customers seek excellent service and superior products; that’s a given. The way they receive those solutions is equally important. Is it timely? Effortless? Respectful? These are some facets of the customer experience that make them come back for more and leave rave reviews.
Naturally, businesses that provide customer-facing services like lawn care and pest control will need pleasant and enthusiastic employees. But besides great customer service employees, there are additional strategies that can help take your company’s customer experience to the next level. Ready to learn how to provide the “wow” factor for your customers?
What Is Customer Experience (CX)?
First, we need to define what customer experience (CX) is. It refers to the overall brand awareness and perception of customers regarding your company. It likely won’t be the job of one person or department to map out customer experience. CX is determined by many overlapping areas of your business, from service offerings, to messaging, third party influences, and other factors. Your company provides the framework for a customer’s experiences, but their experience is not something you dictate to them. It is something they perceive for themselves throughout all stages of the customer journey.
Customer Experience Vs. Customer Service: What’s The Difference?
In short, customer service is a piece of the customer experience puzzle.
Customer experience is an umbrella term that includes marketing, advertising, branding, company culture, business partners, and customer service. It includes everything that factors into a customer’s opinion of the company. Some of these factors are within a company’s control. Others are not.
For example, rumors, press coverage (both good and bad, true and misleading), reviews, the fact that your services were referenced at the backyard barbeque this past weekend, and therefore are suddenly top of mind—all spin a narrative about a company. This affects customer behavior and opinion toward the company.
Other aspects of customer experience include the services themselves, the attitude and competency of your employees, your decisions regarding the suppliers you work with, vehicle reliability, and other factors that are firmly in the company’s control.
To manage customer experience, it is vital to acknowledge that some things simply are not in your control and never will be—such as a customer’s bias, their mentality at the time of purchase, or what media they ingest. For situations beyond your control, tracking data points can help you make informed decisions going forward. Likewise, if you’re in a position to receive customer feedback, it can definitely benefit your company to do so.
So, how does customer service factor in? Customer service is a more widely used and understood term. As a result, it is often misunderstood as being the same as customer experience. However, customer service is just one part of customer experience. It refers to the direct assistance given to customers, such as through AI-based live chat tools on your website, and in-person interactions during pest control or lawn care visits. This assistance can be leading up to a service, during it, and afterward.
Depending on the size of a company, customer service may be the job of a few employees or an entire department. Larger businesses may rely upon a variety of software and strategies to ensure customer service is satisfactory, whereas small businesses may have the capacity to do more one-on-one interactions.
A lot of things have changed for businesses and customers alike in the past few years due to COVID-19. Over half of consumers in the U.S. have stated that COVID-19 made them value customer service more when deciding which business to patronize. In short, like customer experience, customer service aims to provide customer satisfaction.
The 7 Benefits Of Prioritizing Customer Experience In Your Business
Here are seven ways that employing CX strategies can directly benefit your business, no matter what your company size is or the services you offer.
Let’s say your employee did a fantastic job on a lawn care visit to a new customer. They followed all instructions, and the customer was not only satisfied with the work completed, but also had a pleasant interaction with your employee. They answered all questions politely, made small talk, streamlined the payment process, and provided excellent customer service. That customer is much more likely to use your services again (and again and again).
A good customer experience will result in a repeat customer, and repeat customers provide consistent growth for the company. A poor customer experience will cause the customer to go back to the drawing board and research your competitors to see who can offer a better experience. Remember, CX is not only about the quality of the service itself: it is about the ease of getting it in a timely manner, the ease of paying, the interactions with staff, etc. It is possible to offer excellent service but still have poor customer experiences.
But even after a less than ideal customer experience, a customer may still return. If so, it presents an opportunity to show off improvements and make them feel heard, empowered, and valued so that their previous negative experience fades from their perception of the brand.
Most customers want services and transactions to be done not only skillfully, but also quickly. It also benefits companies to prioritize efficiency so that more transactions can be processed per day. This is especially important during your busy months. Great customer experience requires incorporating ways to increase efficiency—whether that means creating more strategic routes, opting for expedited shipping on materials, or improving website features to answer customers’ inquiries faster.
Better Communications And More Informed Decisions
The steps taken to achieve excellent customer experiences will create companies that communicate better internally and externally. Better communications result in more educated decisions. Following up with customers and staff and listening to their feedback about every step of the customer journey provides detailed data, which takes the guesswork out of your business. That way you’ll know exactly what works and what doesn’t.
Customers notice when a company takes the time to improve their experiences. It makes them feel heard and empowered, and in turn makes them more likely to request your services again, review favorably, and recommend your service to others. It can also encourage them to continue sharing valuable feedback with your team. Their positive word of mouth in particular is invaluable and can travel far. Plus, positive CX will reduce negative reviews.
Improving customer experience can result in repeat customers, increased efficiency, improved internal communications, and good publicity—all of which creates consistently higher revenues for your company. With all that success to look forward to, it’s important to be prepared for growth. Plus, careful attention to CX can warrant increasing your prices. As of December 2021, 30% of consumers have stated willingness to pay more if they know they will enjoy a superior customer experience.
Decreased Churn Rate
Improving CX will decrease customer turnover, or churn rate. Plus, happy customers create happy employees, and vice versa. Let’s face it: dealing with unhappy customers is emotionally draining for employees, as well as financially draining for employers. Retain good employees as well as good customers by making sure the customer journey is optimized for success.
Stand Out From The Crowd
Let’s say one of your competitors offers pest extermination services for the same price as you, in the same general location. How is a potential customer going to make a choice between your two services? If two companies offer the same service and a customer must choose, great CX can make all the difference, especially if the two businesses have similar price points. Give yourself a competitive edge by investing in customer experience strategies tailored to your business.
How To Build A Customer Experience Strategy That Works
Because customer experience is so broad in scope, there are many CX strategies that can be used, depending upon your company’s size, mission/vision, and growth plan. But in general, the first steps to building a solid customer experience strategy are as follows:
Fully Understand Your Customers
First, you need to fully understand your customers. Keeping track of their purchase history, feedback, and pain points is a great place to start. Take it a step further by creating a set of imaginary customers (called a “buyer persona”) that embody the qualities of the customers you want to attract. Then step into their shoes and take the customer journey as that person, from how they find your business to how they experience your services and post-service follow-ups. As that customer, are your needs being met at every interaction, or is there room for improvement or customization?
Create Ways for Customers To Efficiently Help Themselves
Anticipate customers’ questions and provide answers on your website. Provide detailed how-to blog posts or checklists if appropriate, and any other informational content that will give customers the help they need without going too far out of their way. Providing this information at no cost establishes trust in your brand and builds authority in your field.
Cultivate A Friendly Culture
Make it a part of your company mission and brand values to develop a culture of kindness and goodwill. Listen to customer suggestions and insights from employees across departments, so that no issue slips through the cracks. Along with listening, invest in customer relationship management software that allows your team to communicate across departments about customers’ history, preferences, and needs.
Did you know that over ¾ of customers feel more connected to a brand on an emotional level when their problems are resolved by customer service? Emotions drive loyalty: treating customers like the humans they are, and not just sources of revenue, will pay off. Brand loyalty is established not only through excellent service and reliable logistics, but also through a caring human touch—no matter how big an organization is. Invest in staff training or seminars in emotional intelligence if needed.
Create Feedback Opportunities Online
Create a submission box on your company’s website or provide an email address for customers to provide feedback. Knowing that there is a place specifically for customers to be heard will decrease the chance they will take to public reviews to offer critiques. Make sure the feedback form has a good interface for iOS and Android devices, too. Ensure that these submissions are checked regularly and that customers receive personalized responses.
Implement Changes And Measure Results
If possible, make the changes that customers want. If you cannot accommodate a specific change, try to meet the outcome they desire. For example, if they voice a need for more scheduling options, consider hiring more staff or expanding business hours. After implementing changes, keep track of how customer feedback improves.
Create A Campaign To Communicate CX Improvements
Don’t be afraid to rebrand or shift focus to better communicate what you have to offer. Run the campaign where your customer base can easily find you, whether it’s via email messaging, cable commercials, some other method, or a combination. Customers want to see that you’re listening, so show them that you are.
The Top Ways You Can Enhance Customer Experience Right Now
Although measuring customer experience involves both qualitative and quantitative approaches, don’t get bogged down by the quantitative. CX is about big picture customer satisfaction. Quantitative measurement tools and strategies can help you get there and track your success, but at the end of the day, customers just want to feel satisfied with your service. Here is more on how to enhance customer experience:
Track Customer Perceptions
The following CX metrics help track quantitative customer data:
- Net Promoter Score (NPS): This score is based on a one question survey given to customers. The question asks customers to rank, on a scale of one to 10, how likely they are to recommend the company. The higher the score, the more likely the customer is to be loyal to the company and promote it. The lower the score, the more likely the customer will discourage others from using your company. Simple and effective, NPS is the most widely used CX metric.
- Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT): This score is also based on a one question survey, asking customers to rank, on a scale of one to five, how satisfied they are with their purchased service. Customers who give a four or a five are considered “satisfied,” and likely to purchase again. This score is more specific to the individual service, rather than the company as a whole.
To calculate the CSAT, divide the total number of satisfied customers according to the survey by the total number of survey responses. Multiply that by 100 to get the percentage of satisfied customers.
- Customer Effort Score (CES): This score measures how easy it is for a customer to interact with your business. Customers, of course, desire low effort interactions on their part. CES is also a single question survey that helps predict customer loyalty. The fewer hoops a customer has to jump through in order to get a service, have their question answered, reschedule, or get a refund, the better.
It is best to invite customers to complete such surveys immediately upon the completion of services. If your software can automate this process, even better. Using all these metrics helps create a more complete picture of the customer experience. Tracking these insights over time will help consistently identify what goes right or wrong. That, in turn, will make it easier to improve.
Listen To Customer Feedback
In addition to the specified quantitative UX metrics above, provide qualitative opportunities for customers to give feedback on various topics in other ways. If you are a small business, establishing a rapport between employees and customers will make it natural to gather informal feedback based on conversation. A friendly, genuine interest from staff can be the difference between an angry review of a service, based on built-up annoyance, versus a private, mellow conversation about how to improve.
In addition to customers, employees will also have valuable insights about how to offer an improved customer experience. They are the ones who are face-to-face with customers and assist them on their journeys. They will notice opportunities for improvement that perhaps even the customers themselves may not have realized. Maintaining an open line of dialogue with staff across departments (not just customer service) will help management stay on top of potential problems before they become actual problems.
Make Sure All Departments Are On The Same Page
Good customer experience does not happen within a siloed organization. A customer can have a wonderful experience with a friendly technician, for example, only to be disappointed by an inefficient billing process, which sours their entire perception of the brand. The right software and other communications platforms will help employees at every stage of the customer journey stay informed about customers’ specific needs and requests.
Up Your Digital Game
Without inundating the customer with feedback requests, know that it is okay to ask for more information beyond a single-question survey and small talk in the field or over the phone. Consider sending occasional (perhaps quarterly) emails throughout the year stating that you are open to hearing how to improve customer experience. Make sure customers are aware of mobile applications, live chat features, and other helpful resources available online. Find a customer experience feedback option that works for you.
That being said, strike a balance between personalized and automated service. Automation is great for reducing effort on behalf of the customer, but it can be a turn-off if it is used in a highly personal context.
Act On The Customers’ Feedback
Now that you have gathered both quantitative and qualitative data from your customers, it is time to act upon it. Without making improvements, the data serves no purpose. Whether the customer has suggestions, complaints, or both—they want change.
Publicize Actions Taken
Get the word out that your business is listening and acting. Utilize social media, reach out to the press, and perhaps get creative with a new ad campaign that highlights the “new and improved” aspects of your company or service. Make sure the customers who specifically wanted change know that they were heard, and that they inspired real action. Reach out to them by email if you can.
Meanwhile, Maintain Excellence
Keep going about your operations while making improvements. Do not alienate other customers or abandon consistency to solely focus on making immediate improvements.
Always Show Appreciation
Don’t forget to regularly thank your customers. It does not have to be with a grand gesture—just make it sincere. Additionally, consider offering a discount on Customer Appreciation Day or sending personalized holiday cards.
Scale Your Business With FieldRoutes
Customer experience is crucial for all businesses, but mostly so for companies that provide services to customers in the field. FieldRoutes is a software provider driven to make your field service company successful, profitable, and scalable. By automating field service operations, our pest control software and lawn care software simplify and streamline experiences for both you and your customers.
Schedule a free demo or contact us to explore how FieldRoutes can help your field service business or enterprise today.