‘Always put yourself in the customer’s shoes’ was the most valuable advice I was given when starting out in the industry, especially when it comes to meeting customers’ expectations through excellent service.
Customer service however is not just about the way a retailer interacts with a shopper at the point-of-sale, or for example the way a wholesaler delivers to a business account.
It is more than that.
The whole experience that a brand delivers to a customer or prospect can persuade them that they are selecting the right product or service, alternatively reassure them that they have bought wisely.
In order to deliver the experience your customers deserve, have a think about what your brand personality is as well as the values that your brand stands for. This will help shape the way your brand is communicated both internally with your staff, as well as externally with your customers.
A positive brand experience can keep a customer for life, by ensuring that the personality and values of the brand are consistent through all your communication touch-points.
Think about how your customers’ brand experience can be influenced by your employees. Since they can be the face of the brand, your staff needs to buy into what your business stands for, its values and its personality. Without these, there is a risk of not having a point of difference or direction on how they should represent the brand.
No matter what size your business, it is critical that the way you engage with your customers is not only consistent, but something that you would always expect yourself.
Customer experience is a source of competitive advantage for your brand and it is something that will influence business growth and market share.
In Richard Branson’s book Like a Virgin, he highlighted an exceptional customer service example from British Airways. A businessman left his coat at the departure lounge just before boarding his flight from London to New York. Not only did the airline reassure him that the coat would be sent to his destination, but it actually arrived before him because it was sent on the next Concorde flight. A British Airways representative was waiting at the gate to hand the man his coat when he arrived.
An old example and not all airlines come with such customer-centric behaviour, it is still a great illustration of exceptional service and positive brand experience. How could you not tell your peers about this kind of experience?
Surprise and delight your customers
You don’t have to be a major airline to provide outstanding customer service. Positive brand experiences can be achieved through providing small, yet significant added value to customers.
Whilst obvious, a simple thank you and acknowledgement of your customer’s loyalty goes a long way to create a point of difference. Alternatively, a ‘random’ gratification or unexpected reward can build a greater brand affinity and word-of-mouth.
By enhancing customer experience, you can build brand loyalty and increase the likelihood for a repeat-purchase or recommendation.
So when reviewing ways to improve your customer service, first think about what your brand stands for, put yourself in your customers’ shoes and ask yourself whether the experience is in line with your brand strategy.