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The Secret to Setting Your Business Apart From the Crowd

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If you’re in business today, you know how difficult it is to find a truly genuine point of difference. Everybody is closely watching each other and copying their every move.

Many companies are sourcing products from the same suppliers or offering similar services. The difference in price from one business to another is often minimal. As this world of sameness engulfs the commercial world, it becomes more important for your business to stand out from the pack.


But how can you achieve this?

There’s a secret all truly successful businesses have known since the beginning of time. They have known it instinctively. It is the secret of providing your customers with a truly memorable experience when they do business with you. As a result, people will not only keep coming back to your business but, more importantly, they will also tell others. It’s the power of word of mouth marketing.

And it all starts with the experience your customer has while doing business with you.

Only businesses with unique and sustainable points of difference will survive and prosper in future.

For example, in the retail sector, a customer’s initial impression before visiting a store, the store layout, the interaction with staff and the after-sales service all make up the experience the customer takes away from the business. This experience will decide whether they visit again.

What ever business you are in, the same principle applies. You need to consider every detail of the experience your customers are having when they deal with you.


First, you must get inside the mind of your customer

In a society bombarded by advertising and marketing, people are acutely aware of the tricks companies use to entice us into spending money.

No amount of advertising can compete with recommendations from friends and family. Research both in New Zealand and overseas, and backed up by business leaders internationally in both bricks and mortar and web-based companies, shows businesses that concentrate their energy on building unique and memorable customer experiences, and who engage emotionally with their clients -rather than just their wallets -are the ones that will build powerful customer loyalty and word of mouth.

They will have a genuine competitive edge. Their profits will grow and their future will be secure.


Your people are NOT your greatest asset

Yes, you read it correctly. The RIGHT people are your greatest asset. The WRONG people can bring your business to its knees. This is why it is so important to choose your staff very carefully.

During my years of training front-line customer service staff I am continually staggered to find organisations investing money in employees who are clearly not the right people to be in front-line service positions. These business owners are looking for some miracle that will transform these people into customer service super stars. It doesn’t work like that.

We as customers have all experienced the wrong front-line customer service people -the lack of smile or spark, no empathy, lacking personality, clearly not enjoying their job and letting everyone know through their body language and attitude, how they feel.

In some of my workshops I have had people who openly admit they don.t enjoy dealing with customers. Yet their bosses have put them on the front line. Can you imagine the harm these people are doing to the business?


Great customer experiences are delivered by great front-line people

Truly great front-line staff have energy, empathy, personality and a willingness to do the best possible job for your customers, every time. These are the people you must find and when you do, LOOK AFTER THEM. This means investing in their professional development,

involving them in the business, seeking ideas, recognising and rewarding them for the true professionals they are.


Leadership: the key to a great customer experience

What customers receive at the front counter is usually a reflection of the attitude and values of the leader. People mimic the behaviour of their leaders. If a customer receives ordinary or poor service, it.s normally not the fault of the service provider directly. It starts at the top.

It’s the little things leaders do that are scrutinised by their staff. How much time they spend with customers, how they talk about customers, how they recognise staff for doing a great job.

Why are we not having many great customer experiences? Why are so many people in front-line positions either the wrong people for the job or unhappy with their work environment? Why do some organisations experience above average staff turnover?

In my opinion, the answer is because many businesses lack effective leadership.

If you are a leader, you must provide direction, and develop and inspire your people to achieve a common vision. And this vision, ultimately, is to provide your customers with great experiences.

The success of your business hinges on understanding this concept of customer experiences. It is the new commercial battlefield. If you’re smart, you will latch onto it before your competitors do.

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Chris Bell is managing director of Customer Experiences; a company that specialises in helping businesses improve the way in which they interact with customers and clients. Click here to contact us.

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