Do your customers consistently enjoy a flawless experience when dealing with your company? If your business is like most others, the honest answer to this question is “no, not always”. There is always room for improvement. Let’s take a look at some of the most important things you can do to improve your customers’ experience with your business:
1. Eliminate Long Wait Times
Nobody wants to be kept waiting. One of the most straightforward ways to improve the customer experience is to reduce the amount of time your customers are kept waiting for service — or, ideally, to eliminate their wait times all together.
If you have a service-based business where appointments are set or business is conducted by telephone, you could offer a call-back option so your customers don’t have to waste time waiting on hold.
If you have a brick-and-mortar business, you could allow for self-service options. Take inspiration from the latest trend in automated retail stores where customers never have to wait.
Once you’ve reduced wait times to the greatest extent possible, it’s still worth evaluating other possible ways to continue improving the customer experience beyond that. For example, if your business has a waiting room, perhaps you could stock it with coffee, magazines and a television so your customers can easily keep themselves occupied while they wait.
2. Be Proactive About Addressing Customers’ Feedback
Your customers are unlikely to remain loyal to your business if they have questions or concerns that are not proactively being addressed by your team. It’s critical not only to solicit customer feedback, but also to ensure your team is responding to that feedback promptly.
Furthermore, you have to take action to improve your products and services based on customers’ feedback. For example, if multiple customers are telling you that your widget is too big to be easily portable, you’ll want to make it a priority to develop a smaller version of your widget.
It can be challenging to respond appropriately to customer feedback, particularly if you get high volumes of feedback from your customers. However, there are ways to make this easier. One possible approach is to automate part of the process using sentiment analysis software. Sentiment analysis is a type of automated text analysis. This software can empower you to easily summarize the feedback your customers are giving you and transform that feedback into an actionable list of insights that your team could use for improvement and growth.
3. Review Your Policies
It’s essential for your business to set clear and easily understood policies regarding how you will handle returns, exchanges or cancellations. Whether you’re selling physical products, digital products or services, it is appropriate to consider the circumstances under which a customer might be justified in asking for a refund. Your policies need to spell out how people can initiate the refund process and the specific time frame they have for doing so.
When you set your policies, consider how your competitors are handling returns, exchanges and cancellations. If at all possible, you want your policies to be at least as customer-friendly as your competitors’ are. This is particularly important if your business is new and you haven’t yet had a chance to earn the customer’s trust or build your brand awareness.
4. Avoid Exposing Your Customers to Rude or Angry Employees
Your customers’ experience can easily be ruined by rude, angry or abrupt employees. There is no foolproof way to ensure that a particular employee won’t treat a customer rudely or poorly – but there are some steps you can take to minimize the chances that this will happen:
- If you have any employees who are known to routinely be rude, poorly-mannered or sarcastic, do not allow those people to interact with customers. As long as rudeness remains an issue, find some other work for them to do. Counsel them and work at improving their behavior if that is appropriate, or terminate their employment if that is warranted – but only put your sunniest people on the front lines.
- Don’t overwork your employees. Yes, there’s a labor shortage, so it’s not surprising if you’re understaffed right now. Even so, burning out your staff is a recipe for disaster. Burned-out employees tend to be vulnerable to getting stressed out, which can have the result of making them more prone to rudeness and incivility. This can negatively affect their working relationships with everyone – not just with your customers, but also with other colleagues, too.
- Pay your employees fairly. If workers are underpaid, resentments can build, possibly resulting in incivility and other negative behaviors.
There are countless other possible ways to improve your customers’ experience with your business – but long wait times, unfriendly company policies, unanswered questions, unresolved problems and rude employees are some of the most frequent complaints that cause customers to shop elsewhere. If you can be proactive about solving these issues, your customers are much more likely to enjoy a positive experience when they do business with your company.