Let’s talk about the customer experience. This is something all businesses can afford to brainstorm about. Let’s examine the below illustration:
Which one do you think is the most important? What part of the customer experience do you think most businesses fail at? Maybe you said it’s the customer service. Maybe for others it’s the brand marketing or social media presence. All of these things are important but what most businesses are missing is tying all of these attributes together. Understanding the importance of brand marketing when it stands alone but also in combination with customer service, how it also effects the social media presence, and so on. Most businesses operate as though all of these things are independent of each other when in reality it is a cohesive relationship and cannot fully function if any piece is subpar. Whether your brand is leaving a positive or negative influence on your customers, the proof is in the customers experience.
Think about the customer experience like a game of chess. The customer experience is the king. The customer experience overall is the most important piece to maintaining continuous customer flow. Without customers you cannot have a profit. Someone has to purchase your good or use your service in order to make money. The queen is the customer engagement because she is the most powerful piece. A few ways to improve customers engagement is to have reward or loyalty programs, engage with your customers the same way they do, show interest and that you care about them. Next, we have rook representing the purchase. Once clients are purchasing, they have made up their mind. Now it’s our employee’s jobs to not mess up the sale. Which makes the bishop represent the customer service. The bishop’s job is to catch the opposing player off guard. Customer service is supposed to be so great that it catches your customers off guard enticing them to come back solely based on how they feel when they come into contact with your establishment. The knight is the browse and shop. Why? The knight is free spirited. The knight can go wherever it wants. Your customer base can shop anywhere they want but yet they’ve chosen to spend money with you. The shopping and inspiration set up the structure, which makes it the pawn in this whole relationship. Under this umbrella we have the brand marketing, promotions and sales, and direct marketing, enticing customers to view what you have. It gets them in the door. Needless to say, it is what inspires the customer to use your service, eat at your restaurant, or join your club. Now let’s explore each one in more detail.
The experience starts with the pawn’s shopping inspiration. What is prompting your customer to shop with you? They could take their business any where in the world but yet here they are with you. What do you want your brand to say about your business? Is it kid friendly? Is it only for adults? Both? Is it about feeling luxurious? No matter what your brand says about you make sure it is themed from the advertising content, how employees are treated, to how the product is presented, how your establishment symbolizes your brand, and even down to correspondence. This is why your brand is so important. It isn’t only about what it looks like. It’s about how it makes you feel. What kind of promotions are presented? How are they presented? How are you reaching your market? Is it all on social media or is it also in person? Are you sending them direct mail, emails, or text messages? Are you utilizing coupons and discounts? Are you not only solving their problems but also putting yourself in their shoes to fully understand what they are experiencing?
Ok great, now you have knights in the door and browsing around to purchase something. Hopefully your store or website is inviting and user friendly. Make sure the establishment is well lit, clean, and thoughtfully laid out. You want to place items you want to catch your consumers eye where they will spend the most time: where they walk in at, by the register, eye level, with signs pointing out your promotions, cupped with friendly and knowledgeable staff.
The consumer has now moved on from being a knight to be a rook. They’ve made an item selection and are ready to check out. This is the most tender part of the whole experience. Why? The customer can at any point decide if they want to back out. Ever heard of buyers’ remorse? It is a real thing. People usually experience buyer’s remorse after the purchase, when they are trying to decide if what they just bought was worth the purchase. Or if they are standing in the check-out line too long. Or if they overhear a sales associate, staff, or owner get rude with another customer. They start rationalizing their emotional decision to make the commitment. How can we overcome the plague of buyers’ remorse and ensure our consumer moves like a real rook, confident with their purchase? Understand your customer. Find out what is impacting their decision. Find the why below the why. The need below the need. What would make them need this solution, product, good or service? Why would they not need it? It’s like arguing a case, an attorney doesn’t only prepare for their side of the argument but also the rebuttal. If you find your business facing an increase in returns or dissatisfied customers, one reason may be, because the need has yet to be found to solidify the purchase. Talk with your customers, get to know them, offer them help while browsing, and give brief explanations of the products. Build a relationship with them.
How many of you have had a great customer service experience? If you’ve been to Publix or Chic-fil-a you are probably spoiled with great customer service. If you haven’t experienced the luxurious customer service instilled in their employees, you aren’t alone. Customer service is the bishop in the game of chess. It protects the customers experience by catching your consumer off guard. The consumer should be treated with respect, staff should be knowledgeable, make the consumer feel as though the employee is going above and beyond for them. Make the consumer fall in love with the faithfulness of your company’s customer service. You should be serving the consumers needs above all else. Have a favorable return policy, encourage consumers to leave positive reviews, and when your consumer needs you always be there for them. Reviews are powerful now a days, consumers will read page after page of reviews on multiple businesses or products or restaurants before finally making the commitment.
“People will forget what you said, people forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”
~ Maya Angelou
Her ye her ye, here comes the Queen! The customer engagement is the queen of the customer experience. The engagement is your social media presence. Are you making posts and responding to your followers? Does your loyalty program keep consumers coming back? Are you giving them a free item after x amount of purchases, money spent, or services received? Remember, consumers want to be respected and appreciated. Afterall without customers you don’t have a business. Do you recall the backlash that several companies have received for their advertising? Let’s take H&M for instance. They advertised a little black boy with “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle” on his shirt which, in response, caused consumer outrage. Or Gillette’s latest commercial that received a lot of backlash inciting that Gillette was exploiting the #MeToo movement. Not everybody seen it that way but if enough people do, it can kill your brand. Unfortunately-fortunately we have to be mindful of how our message will be perceived and received. (Yes, they are too different things like hearing and listening.)
Alas, all of these chess pieces, King, Queen, Rook, Knight, Bishop and Pawn make up the game of chess. Similarly, that all of the components we’ve discussed above make up the customers experience. They all operate together and at the same time. They are codependent on each other. Remind yourself that if one area is lacking, the other areas can’t be as effective.