The average consumer is inundated with thousands of advertisements each day. As a result, most people have learned how to “tune out” traditional marketing techniques, leaving many companies spending time and money on strategies that aren’t necessarily as effective as they once were.
However, when businesses put extra effort into the user experience, things change. It forms trust and shows your customers that you care, leading to customer retention and long-term loyalty.
Nowadays, that’s exactly what people are looking for. Consumers are more likely to stick with a company they feel comfortable with. They’re even more likely to tell others about their positive experience.
So, what can you do to prioritize user experience? How can you improve your customers experience with your business? How can you make sure your customers are feeling heard and understood throughout their journey with your business, and what can you do to cause more retention and satisfaction within your customer base?
Analyzing the Journey
Looking at existing data and finding out what works and what doesn’t is always a good place to start. By analyzing data throughout the customer journey, you can identify weak points and determine which parts of the journey might be causing your customers to think twice about your business.
Try to map out the customer journey in its entirety. Depending on the type of business you have, there are several different “checkpoints” you should look at, including:
- Customer service;
- Marketing and advertising;
- Website analytics (click-thru rates, on-site conversion rates, etc.);
When you start by looking at the data you already have, you can establish a healthy and strategic blueprint to move forward. Companies change their marketing strategies all the time, but if you’re going to make a major overhaul, it should be done with some facts and figures to back it up.
Looking at Industry Trends
However, collecting customer data is only half the battle when it comes to prioritizing user experience. It’s also important to look at competitors and the industry at large to determine current best practices.
Trends come and go. If you’re falling behind whatever is popular now, you could be struggling to meet consumer expectations and start playing second fiddle to some of your competitors.
Thankfully, keeping up with industry trends doesn’t have to be difficult. It starts by consistently doing your research. Study statistics. Check out your competitors and what they’re doing with marketing, advertising, and customer service. Network as much as possible and get out of the office to see your industry at work in the real world.
Making changes to keep up with trends doesn’t always involve a complete overhaul of your business. However, if you’ve been struggling to keep up for a while, it might be time to make a change to your brand. Not only will it attract new customers, but it can entice existing ones to come back and work with you again.
A brand identity is crucial for the customer journey. It gives your business a personality, shows consistency, and builds loyalty within your consumer base. When people know who you are, what you stand for, and how you work with your customer base, they’re more likely to choose you over a competitor.
Take a look at ongoing and emerging trends, as well as predictions for where things are going. Getting one step ahead of the game, and possibly giving your business a brand makeover, could make a big difference in each subsequent step of the consumer journey.
Building a Strong Customer Support System
We touched on the importance of analyzing the customer service of your business, but what should you do to improve it, especially if it’s an area for significant growth?
Often, a customer’s service experience with your business will make the strongest impression and can determine how they view your brand. By ensuring you have a strong customer support system in place, you’ll help every customer feel seen, heard, and appreciated.
In today’s world of automation and digitizing nearly everything, customer service is one area where people still come first. Automated responses and phone services are a start, but most people want to interact with a person when they have a comment or question. It’s essential to have a strong, highly-trained customer service team. Whether you’re a digital company or a brick-and-mortar business, you need to have people working for you that are always willing to go the extra mile for your current and prospective customers.
Here are some of the most important techniques that everyone interacting with your customers should practice:
- Active listening;
- Using positive language;
- Communicating clearly and effectively;
- Understanding the ins and outs of your goods and services.
Whether a customer has a complaint about a product or service or a question about a purchase, keeping things as professional and personal as possible will always be your best bet. Invest in people who care about your company and everyone will see the difference in user experience from start to finish.
Making the Most of Marketing
Once you’ve analyzed your current data and you know you have a solid customer service team ready to spring into action, it’s time to focus on marketing. All forms of marketing play a crucial role throughout the entire customer journey. Reaching your audience in the right way will help you make a positive first impression and set the tone for the rest of their experience with your business.
Your marketing strategy should be unique to your business and target audience. However, one area of marketing that every business should be prioritizing is social media.
Social media allows you to show your brand’s personality. You can engage in online conversations, ask questions, answer questions, and let consumers know that they’re dealing with real people.
You can make the most of these humanization efforts by:
- Posting relevant and valuable content.
- Letting your audience peek “behind the scenes” of your brand.
- Maintaining brand consistency across all platforms.
- Being as transparent as possible.
- Showing your gratitude.
Further, there’s no reason your social media efforts can’t be in sync with the rest of your content marketing strategy. When used together, they can take your marketing to the next level by “humanizing” your business and allowing you to connect more directly with your audience.
Having a great social media team will make a huge difference in your marketing efforts. Don’t be afraid to have fun and use social media as a platform to be creative. Not only will it grab people’s attention, but today’s “word-of-mouth” advertising is often done over social media. It’s easy for someone to share your Facebook page or send a link to someone else, referring them to your company. As every marketer knows, that kind of advertising is second-to-none!
Listening to Customer Feedback
Even with the right strategy in place, there will always be areas of the customer journey that need improvement.
In addition to analyzing the data you collect about your customers, you should also actively ask for and listen to their opinions about their experience with your organization. There are many common business missteps you should look out for, but discouraging customers from giving feedback and failing to adapt to that feedback are two of the largest mistakes you can make.
Is it difficult to hear negative comments about your business? Of course. Is it tiring to hear how you might be able to improve? Sometimes, especially after you’ve already put in so much work. However, when you’re prioritizing the customer experience, feedback is necessary for growth and change. With this kind of information, it’ll be far easier to keep up with industry demands and establish a consistent understanding of your target audience’s wants and needs.
First, feedback should absolutely come from your customers. Encourage them to offer it after every interaction. That might include a quick phone survey or a follow-up email asking for their comments. You can even encourage your customers to write reviews online, especially if they’ve had a positive experience.
It’s just as important to get feedback from other outside sources, including previous employees and other professionals in your industry. Over time, you’re likely to see some consistency in the feedback you’re receiving, which should lead you to ask yourself if the issues are easily solvable.
Once you receive feedback, don’t be afraid to implement it. If a customer has a negative experience and lets you know about it, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll never be back. Rather, they’ll be looking for you to take them seriously and make changes. If they see that you have, they’re more likely to feel valued as a customer and as an individual. A business that takes the time to show each customer that they care will foster loyalty.
Every customer that buys something from your business or uses one of your services should get the same positive experience. That kind of consistency is what will help your business stand out and be successful for many years to come.
Be willing to be fluid with your company. Look at data and understand where you need to make changes. Tap into your marketing team’s creative resources to build a better brand. Most importantly, listen to feedback from those who have already supported you, so you have a better understanding of your strengths and weaknesses and you know how to improve based on what your audience wants. When you put user experience first every time, your brand is more likely to get the positive publicity you deserve.
Author Bio – Katie Brenneman is a passionate writer specializing in lifestyle, mental health, education, and fitness-related content. When she isn’t writing, you can find her with her nose buried in a book or hiking with her dog, Charlie. To connect with Katie, you can follow her on Twitter.