Introduction to Customer Relationship Management
Businesses rely on honest customer feedback and data to improve their service, support, and operations. Without insight into the shopper's perception of their brand, companies remain unaware of what areas need improvement. Therefore, organizations need a way to collect information from each customer interaction to determine how they can improve their customer relationships.
By practicing customer experience management, businesses can gauge how consumers perceive their brand, products, and services. This insight gives management the ability to make quick changes to various operations and strategies, such as the shopping journey and check-out process.
Listening and responding to customer feedback shows shoppers that the business values their patrons, promoting loyalty and advocacy.
What is Customer Experience Management?
Firstly, the customer experience (CX) refers to consumers' perception of a brand developed through their shopping journey. Customers mold their perception, both consciously and subconsciously, with every interaction they have with a business.
Customer interactions do not just involve direct contact with products, it also includes advertising, packaging, and services.
The CX directly impacts whether a first-time buyer converts to a loyal customer. Therefore, companies should invest the time and resources necessary for customer experience management.
Customer experience management (CEM) is the practice of controlling the CX by improving the interaction between the business and its audience. By investing in proper CEM, companies can maintain and acquire shoppers, promoting sales and income.
Studies show that nearly $62 billion is lost each year due to shoppers leaving a business after experiencing poor customer service. Just one bad experience can cause one out of three consumers to leave a brand. This means that a company can lose even their most loyal customer due to a single mishap.
Therefore, businesses must actively seek to enhance their customer service, support, and interactions to improve the overall perception of their brand.
7 Ways to Improve the Customer Experience
Businesses looking to improve their customer experience should consider the seven CEM best practices.
1. Set Clear Objectives
First and foremost, companies need to set clear CX objectives, whether it is to improve a specific service or overall customer satisfaction. While there may be several goals, management can begin by listing guiding principles to prioritize each objective.
For example, if a company's mission statement is to serve working families, some of their guiding principles may be offering flexible service, different financing options, and personalization. Therefore, they may want to prioritize the shopper's convenience over developing more impactful marketing schemes.
After establishing fundamental principles, companies can embed these values into their work environment to encourage a specific behavior. This enables employees to interact with customers using these guiding principles.
2. Study the Customers
Businesses need to understand who their target audience is and their specific needs. Many companies handle a variety of customers but are able to pinpoint common variables to determine their demographics.
By establishing key demographics and further segmenting their audience into more specific groups, organizations can develop buyer personas, also known as customer profiles. Each buyer persona is defined by particular characteristics, including shopping behavior, preferences, personality, and engagement patterns.
Buyer personas enable employees to identify customers based on their actions to improve interactions, enhance brand perception, and personalize the CX.
3. Develop Customer Relationships
Research shows that shoppers prefer a customized shopping experience over general interactions. The best way to personalize the CX is by creating an emotional connection with consumers.
A study performed by the Journal of Consumer Research shows that customers base over 50% of their experience on emotion, as emotion primarily shapes perception and behavior. This means that a positive or negative experience can determine whether a shopper returns to a company.
Consumers convert to loyal customers when they develop an emotional connection with a brand. Any company that capitalizes on emotional connection can increase their sales by up to 85%.
Emotionally engaged customers are also three times more likely to become brand advocates. They also become less price-sensitive, meaning businesses can implement different pricing strategies to promote profit margins.
4. Collect Customer Feedback
The job is not finished after implementation. Management must also collect customer feedback to determine if their project was successful.
There are several ways businesses can gather customer feedback, such as-
- Phone calls
- Online reviews
- Social media
- Online chat tools
Although monitoring online reviews from forums and social media can yield insightful critiques, businesses can generate feedback on specific services by crafting a survey.
For example, a retailer that implemented new self-checkout kiosks can print surveys on receipts or generate automatic emails to question shoppers about their experience. This enables management to address any technical difficulties or concerns that customers may have.
5. Utilize a Quality Framework
By this step, companies should have an accurate gauge of what customers think of their brand. Management should also have an idea of what products and services shoppers prefer. The next step is to determine how to change employee training to improve customer support and underperforming services.
While many businesses first analyze the impact of business-customer communication, companies should first develop a quality framework. A quality framework is a criterion that enables managers to assess a team's development and performance through group training.
A quality framework can be created to analyze employees' ability to convert sales, help customers, and streamline services.
6. Collect Employee Feedback
Collecting feedback from employees is equally as important as monitoring customer reviews. Even if customers report positive experiences, employees may be too overworked to maintain a positive CX in the long run. Therefore, businesses should hold a routine check-in to address workers' concerns.
Many organizations distribute surveys to employees annually to capture an overall snapshot of that year's ups and downs. This also gives workers the opportunity to express any worries or complaints they have.
However, yearly check-ins mean 11 months pass before employees have a chance to give their feedback.
As many things can happen in a year, companies should consider implementing continuous employee feedback polls. This allows workers to submit suggestions as they notice areas that need improvement.
By practicing continuous feedback, businesses can avoid neglecting concerns that could be forgotten by the end of the year check-in.
7. Measure the Return on Investments
Lastly, businesses need to monitor how their CX investments perform to determine their return on investment (ROI).
With point-of-sale (POS) software, businesses can collect valuable shopper information to assess customer interactions. For example, advanced POS systems automate personalized marketing emails for loyal customers. Companies can use these features to track conversion rates and analyze the impact CX has on sales and income.
POS systems also recognize loyalty programs to collect more information on the members' shopping journey. Companies can track which promotions shoppers respond to, which campaigns yield the most conversion rates, and what services encourage the most engagement.
Benefits of Successful Customer Experience Management
Although there are many facets to CEM, companies should be sure to invest the appropriate resources and time to improve the CX. Businesses that improve their CX often experience-
- Increased Customer Acquisitions
Many businesses are using social media to leverage their CX to enhance customer acquisitions. By ensuring customers are sharing positive reviews online, companies can significantly increase their customer reach and perception.
- Enhanced Customer Engagement
Some organizations send out regular propositions and surveys to customers via email and social media to promote engagement and assess real-time interactions.
- Improved Conversion Rates
However, companies should prioritize building trusting customer relationships over increasing profits. Customers can sense when they are being treated as potential sales rather than valued patrons. By showing appreciation for loyal customers, businesses can convert first-time shoppers into long-term customers.
- Reduced Cost of Service
By establishing a CX oriented work environment, businesses can minimize the cost of services while increasing sales and customer satisfaction.
- Improved Crisis Management
Valuing and protecting loyal customers' trust gives companies the chance to receive honest feedback to improve their services in the long-term.
- Increased Customer Loyalty and Advocacy
Using POS Systems to Improve the Customer Experience
Although many business owners may think POS software only handles payment processing, this system can also streamline front and back-end processes. With a POS system, businesses can collect valuable data from past and real-time customer interactions and transactions.
This functionality can significantly improve CEM by-
Resolving Inventory Discrepancies
POS software updates stock levels with every sale and inventory order to provide businesses with the most accurate product quantities. This ensures that companies do not understock products, resulting in stockouts. It also updates all sales channels, so customers are alerted when an item is no longer available, preventing backorders.
By reducing inventory discrepancies, customers can avoid the frustration of ordering a product that is out of stock. Instead, businesses can alert consumers when they have a restock.
Meeting Customer Demands
Although online shopping has gained momentum over the years, customers that prefer traditional retail enjoy the ability to interact with products before making a purchase. However, businesses need to know which items customers are most interested in, in order to meet the demand.
With a POS solution, companies can detect sales trends to anticipate fluctuating customer demand. This enables management to prepare their stocks, staff, and services to enhance the CX.
Improving Speed and Responsiveness
The biggest complaint of traditional shoppers is waiting in the check-out line. Without automation tools, employees must manually calculate totals and process payments, elongating wait times.
With POS software, businesses can accept multiple forms of payment, from cash to credit cards, and avoid manual calculations. By utilizing barcodes, employees simply scan items and the solutions calculate the total, eliminating human errors and minimizing wait times.
Expanding Customer Outreach
Modern POS systems offer marketing features, such as email marketing, to send loyal customers exclusive discounts, promotions, and product announcements. Studies show that companies that send personalized emails find their transaction rates and income per email increases by up to six times.
By utilizing POS software, companies can maintain frequent contact with customers through automated emails, saving time, and labor costs.
Improving Customer Service
POS solutions hold all inventory data, such as price, quantity, location, and product variances, enabling staff to answer customers' questions with a quick search.
It also allows companies with multiple stores to transfer items between locations rather than placing an inventory order. This reduces the customer's wait time for products and reduces inventory expenses altogether.