Providing great customer experience is vital in our modern world. A recent survey found that 66% of consumers rate experiences over price when they make a purchasing decision. Now is the time to look at the customer experience you provide and determine how you can spruce it up — even if you are on a tight budget.
Use these tips to start assessing your current processes and find ways to improve them on the cheap.
#1: Improve team communication
To improve the external customer experience, start by looking internally. To ensure a positive experience for customers, your team needs to be communicating effectively and consistently, while having the right resources at their disposal to effectively manage calls and customer requests quickly and easily.
For example, if a customer calls two days in a row, your team needs to be able to communicate effectively to ensure that, on the second day, the customer is not repeating the entire scenario that they already shared with another team member the day before. This is frustrating and annoying, especially when most consumers know technology is available to record all these details after they share them the first time.
Luckily, there are a few simple ways to improve team communication on a budget:
- Utilize a tool like Slack, MS Teams, or Hubgets, that collects all team communication in one place.
- Schedule weekly meetings with a tool like Calendly to exchange information and updates on customer needs, concerns, calls, and emails.
- Use a tool like Guru to manage your company's shared knowledge and resources to streamline the customer support process and get your reps on the same page.
It's completely free to start.
#2: Practice active listening
It’s easy to be distracted on calls in the modern workplace. In fact, 69% of full-time employees report being distracted, according to a 2018 Udemy survey. As such, your customer service employees may be easily pulled away from their calls, which leads to poor customer experience. This is where active listening becomes a valuable — and budget-friendly — customer experience tool.
Psych Central explains, “Active listening is all about building rapport, understanding, and trust.” To use this, your staff needs to start practicing a few listening techniques, according to Psych Central:
- Restating: Repeat back the question.
- Summarizing: Paraphrase their response or thoughts.
- Minimal encouragers: Show you’re listening with, “Mmhmm” or “And, then..”
- Reflecting: Saying, “This seems really important to you.”
- Giving feedback: Giving your professional insights and thoughts.
- Emotion labeling: You might say, “I’m sensing that you’re feeling anxious…”
- Probing: Questions to get deeper information.
- Validation: Acknowledging the issue, question or concern.
- Effective pause: Pause for emphasis.
- Silence: Allow for comfortable silence.
- I messages: Using “I” phrasing rather than “you” phrasing.
- Redirecting: Use this if someone is angry or being aggressive.
- Consequences: Sharing possible consequences.
When your team uses these techniques, customers feel heard and their experience becomes memorable for all the right reasons.
#3: Ask for feedback
The easiest way to improve customer experience is to talk directly with them. What’s working? What’s not working? Where can you improve to ensure they’re happy every time they come into contact with your business or brand? Don’t just assume you know these answers. Ask your customers directly, using the following strategies:
- Start a customer advisory board (CAB) that meets once a year or each quarter to discuss what’s working and what’s not.
- Send regular feedback surveys; build these into your email automation so you don’t have to think about it — the emails just go out when triggered by a purchase or other related event.
- Personally call your most loyal or highest-spending customers and have a conversation with them about customer experience and what they like and don’t like.
#4: Provide customer support on social media
Don’t haphazardly field questions on social media. Make it easy for customers to direct their questions to the right team to create a seamless customer experience. For example, Twitter has become a popular platform for serving customers. You’ll see that many well-known brands, including Apple, Microsoft, PayPal, and UPS, have support Twitter accounts, which are dedicated solely to support questions and monitored by a specific team that provides timely responses to customer needs.
Providing customers with support through the platforms they use most often increases the chances of a great customer experience.
#5: Update your customer support documentation
If you already have FAQs or a portal where customers can access documentation and answers to common questions, half the work is already done. Now you just need to update that content to reflect new features, product updates, and customer questions that may not have been included the first time around. A great way to do this is by housing all of your customer support documentation in a knowledge management system that integrates with other your tools, makes documentation intuitive and accessible, and has a verification capability to ensure your reps are using the most up to date and accurate information.
When updating your knowledge base, consider a few key details to get the most out of this effort:
- What are the most common questions currently?
- What pieces need to be updated based on new features?
- Is the organization of content easy to understand?
- Is the information consistently verified for accuracy?
- Which pieces of content do we need to create new based on product updates?
- Is the knowledge documented concise and usable?
Give this content a refresh every six months to a year, depending on how often your product changes, to ensure customers can access everything they need without ever having to pick up the phone.
Improve customer experience on a budget
There are many small steps you can take to improve customer experience. Focus on team communication and documentation, social media support, and better listening practices to ensure each customer gets the best impression of your business, and as a result, comes back again and again.