what you need to create a lasting customer experience
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29, June 2017

Recently I had to close one of my premium bank accounts. Much to my surprise the whole operation was smooth and it was over within half an hour. I felt a tinge of sadness as I left the branch thinking perhaps I did wrong by closing the long relationship I had with the bank.

Much to my dismay the very next month I received an SMS from the bank asking me to pay for non-maintenance of proper balance. I was shocked and confused. Almost 5 months later, after writing countless letters and raising grievances through their website, the bank finally closed the account when my last email said that I really regretted having had such a continued relationship with the bank.

Though I no longer hold an account with the bank, the whole experience sort of created a negative experience. The bank could have gone the extra mile and ensured a smooth closure that would have left a lasting great experience. In fact, it might have paved way for good word-of-the mouth campaign. After all, great customer experience is the sum total of all interactions that a customer has with a brand and the opinion they form of that brand from their experience.

While most organizations boast about customer centricity, when it comes to executing and creating a wow experience, they fail. Delivering a lasting customer experience has never been more important to businesses especially in the digital age where customers are more knowledgeable and demanding. Here are some pointers for creating a great but lasting customer experience.

   (1) Listen to your customers: Customers have to be heard. Sometimes client complaints uncover issues that you have never come across or improved upon. So, always listen to what your customer had to say, even if they want to close the relationship with your organization. Effective listening enables you to rectify the problems before they escalate further. Don’t just stop with listening. You have to analyze all the issues, find out the root cause, share information across various functions and then try to fix them. In my case, the bank did not have a proper back-end process and so the front-line staff was not able to understand where the fault was. Have a solid feedback mechanism and importantly ensure that captured feedback is used to rectify problems and improve the overall experience.

   (2) Empower your staff: Ensure your staff are well-trained and confident while dealing with customers. The more informed they are about the services and products; they will be able to provide excellent service. Be sure to invest in technologies that will enable your staff to pull out the required information at the right time. Metrics are important but at the same time what is more important is the attitude of the employee to go beyond metrics and solve the problem of the customer.

   (3) Offer Omni-channel support: These days customers expect a range of channels to interact with the organization – Email, website, mobile, chat, social media etc. To deliver exceptional and consistent experience across all channels, all interactions must be unified. If customers have trouble when locating what they want in one channel, they should be able to seamlessly switch to another channel.

   (4) Respond to complaints in real-time: Your customer service staff must proactively respond to customer complaints/queries in which ever channel it arises. What is the use of taking your own pace to respond – it will only leave disgruntled customers. If the issue is too complex to handle, respond politely to the customer but ensure proper escalation and closure.

   (5) Provide seamless experience: Often times, they are many departments within an organization interacting with the customer. However, these departments work in silos, they don’t communicate with each other. Make workflow rules a little flexible to help cross-department communication.

   (6) Measure and improve: Foster a culture that drives continuous improvement. You need to constantly measure and introduce improvements through swift, effective responses that transforms customers’ perception. One of the best ways to collect feedback from your customers is to make the process easy. Lengthy questionnaires and forms will generally put off people from responding. An important point to remember is to make the impact clear – customers will be willing to provide a feedback only if they believe that it will improve their experience going forward. Develop a dynamic feedback program that includes touchpoint surveys which provide a constant pulse of your customer’s reaction.

   (7) Offer personalized service: Customer service should never be ‘One size fits all’. Recognizing and understanding the different types of customers you have is the key to create a successful customer experience program. Different customer segments have different expectations. Segment your customers and offer prioritized service to privilege customers; after all, they pay a premium to get special attention.

Transforming customer service from adequate to excellent requires conscious and consistent action. Always remember only happy customers are lasting customers. An organization that goes beyond and above of what is expected of them can ensure lifetime customer wallet share.