There are certain facts we know are unquestionably true. These have either been taught to us or we’ve absorbed them, like osmosis, over the years. Examples of these facts are: The sky is blue; Pi equals mc2; And a happy customer becomes a loyal customer, resulting in repeat business and regular income. All you have to do is make your customer happy. It sounds simple and, thanks to Salesforce’s experience and CRM packages, it can be. And it all starts with the customer experience.

Today’s customer experience

A customer’s experience is affected by every interaction they have with your business. This ranges from where the interaction takes place, to the cost, any discounts or promotions, the quality and value of your product, and the service they receive. Traditionally these transactions would have been face-to-face, but today it’s very likely that the customer experience will be digital, via a computer screen, smartphone or through social media. According to Salesforce, 58 per cent of consumers feel that technology has dramatically changed their expectations of interactions with companies, and millennials are three times more likely than baby boomers to admit that they ‘run their life from their mobile devices’.

Waiting game

Today’s main obstacle to true customer satisfaction running smooth is that digital consumers don’t expect to wait. Salesforce reports that approximately five per cent of organisations have had users leave their website after as little as a one-second delay. Today however, this is exactly what customers expect. And if they suspect there may be delays in delivery, there’s a risk they’ll choose another business. Easily done when the Internet offers such a vast pool of sellers.

Digital diversity

Make the most of the variety of digital communication channels to fulfil your customers’ needs. Email, texting, live-chat options, and social media feeds are all opportunities to establish and build on existing relationships. Your staff need to be completely up-to-date on details such as purchase history, personal preferences, and issues previously raised, so that customers don’t need to re-explain the situation at each touchpoint.

Salesforce found that 68 per cent of consumers feel it’s important for customer service agents to be familiar with their service industry. Also, 73 per cent say they’re likely to switch brands if a company can’t provide consistent levels of service across all of its channels. When doing business online, customers expect the same personalised, one-on-one customer experience that they’d get with a face-to-face transaction. The same study found that 66 per cent of consumers are likely to switch brands if they feel as though they’re being treated like a number rather than an individual.

All of this points to the need to provide an excellent digital customer experience. Customer relationship management (CRM) platforms can play a crucial role in delivering this.

If in doubt – ask!

You can’t give your customers what they want if you don’t know what that is, so make sure you find out. The important first questions to ask are: Who is your target audience? What do they need? How can you help them? To do their job properly, every customer representative in your organisation, from marketing to customer service to sales, should know what your customer base looks like and what their wants and needs are.

This information should be regularly re-evaluated, so you understand how their needs change and develop over time and can continue to meet them. Helping your customers feel understood and fulfilled will give you the edge over your competitors. Ask them what they want through polls, study their habits by keeping abreast of reviews and their social channels, examine what works, what doesn’t and what they want more of, then provide efficient solutions for their specific concerns.

Reach out

So, now you know who your customers are and what they want, what now?

A big part of knowing your customers is knowing how to reach them. Where are they are most likely to be responsive to special offers and other forms of communication? These could be social media platforms Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, TikTok or Instagram. Or they might react better to live chat, speaking on the phone, or finding their own solutions through FAQ pages and customer portals.

According to Salesforce, 63 per cent of adults use mobile devices at least several times per month to seek customer support. This means that a mobile support option is an essential part of your tool kit for customer experience management. Using CRM platforms and predictive analytics can help you discover exactly where and when to reach specific demographics.

One voice

In this day and age, you’re having to deal with customers via your website, email, apps, social media and possibly face-to-face. No matter how varied your paths of communication, it’s essential that your voice, your message, your brand is unified and consistent. This will give you credibility and a recognisable identity, and assure your customers that they’re in safe, competent hands.

To achieve this, everyone in the company must be familiar with the company voice and comfortable being a spokesperson for the brand. This can be realised through training and regular coaching. A comprehensive CRM system should provide effective support options and built-in training programs to help you reach these objectives.

Seamless transition

The ideal customer experience should be seamless. As there are now many ways a customer can interact with a company, they must have a smooth transition between channels. The last thing they want is to have to start the whole process again or have to continually provide an update on their last interaction.

To avoid this, you must ensure that there is cohesiveness and communication across channels and departments, so the customer doesn’t get frustrated and leave. CRM platforms allow you and your staff to view past interactions and service or purchase history, keep communication consistent, send out targeted ads and offers, and provide cross-channel services, such as click-and-collect.

Technology tool kit

Make your life easier, and your business more professional, by taking advantage of the latest technology to manage customer experience.

There are many CRM platforms to choose from, but some still don’t have the ability to facilitate a good customer support offer on mobile devices. To find the best CRM tool for you, research the market. Look for a cloud-based platform that provides apps for customer service management, sales and marketing. Also on your wish list should be features or add-ons, such as application development, predictive analytics and case management. Finally, make sure the platform is easily scalable, cost-effective, fully integrated, easy-to-use and learn, and has an intuitive user interface for first-timers.

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