Why Customer Experience Is Your Beacon in Business Downturns
Most retailers experienced slower growth in 2023 compared to 2022. This is the case for luxury brands as well as markets including the U.K. Fewer people are going to shops, and even those who do are spending less than before. Many customers prefer to shop online, which adds to the challenge.
But there is hope: the customer experience (CX) you deliver day in and day out. Your commitment to delivering an inspiring and memorable CX is your best strategy for growing and thriving amid adversity.
Understanding the Power of Customer Experience
Customer experience encompasses the emotional journey of your customer at every touchpoint with your brand. From the initial greeting to the heartfelt “Come again” and everything in between, these moments should captivate and create lasting memories. An inspiring customer experience cuts through the noise, differentiating your brand and fostering loyalty.
When customers remember good experiences, they’re more likely to return and bring friends. Your happy customers are your ambassadors. They may spend conservatively today, but their loyalty and online and offline endorsements are invaluable. Remember, a customer’s lifetime value increases with each positive interaction.
Key Strategies For Enhancing Customer Experience
Winston Churchill is credited with saying, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” While the current economic environment is a challenging one, it is also an opportunity to differentiate your business from your competitors by providing an excellent customer experience and developing services that meet customers’ needs. By turning this crisis into an opportunity for change, you can emerge from the downturn stronger than ever before.
The first step is to gain an understanding of what your customers want. How do they see your brand? What do they value? What are their views on your competitors? These insights will help you adapt your CX.
Embrace challenging times as an opportunity for a complete transformation. Shuffle the deck, test innovative approaches and co-create with your team to revamp your CX. Doing so will also help maintain a high energy level within your team, which is essential.
Here are some additional ways to enhance your CX:
• Partner with other businesses. This is a great way to expand your customer base by offering something new to your clients while creating excitement for your team at the same time.
• Revisit your approach to clients. Look at the way your team engages with clients. Is it still effective? Is it genuine? How does it make your customers feel? How can you improve? Ask your clients for feedback. They will give you valuable insights into what they like and don’t like about the way your team interacts with them.
• Invest in local charity events. Supporting your community in challenging times is important and surely something clients are sensitive to.
Technology can help improve your CX, too:
• Chatbots: Adding a chatbot to your website allows you to offer customer support, answer frequently asked questions and book appointments 24/7. This is a good way to expand your business operating hours.
• CRM: A customer relationship management system helps you manage customer relationships more effectively. A CRM can track interactions with customers across various touchpoints, store customer data and generate reports that you can use to improve customer service.
• Artificial intelligence: AI can be very useful for personalizing the customer experience you deliver. With enough data, AI can predict customer behavior and even automate tasks.
Implementing these kinds of technologies can prove daunting. Start small, don’t hesitate to hire a technology consultant at first and, as importantly, involve your team.
Put Your Customers First
Most importantly, everyone in your business must think about the customer first. This is a time to instill a customer-centric mindset.
But changing a mindset is probably the most difficult thing to do. One way to do that is to ask your team to go and check your competitors and come back with a detailed report of what they liked and didn’t like. They will probably realize that what they dislike in others is something they also do at times. You may also take them to a place (a restaurant, for instance) known for delivering a good customer experience. Having them reflect on those experiences is usually very effective in initiating the change in mindset you are looking for.
Finally, if you are in a leadership position, you need to talk about the customer over and over again. You need to walk the talk, consistently.
When you make customer experience your focus, it’s not just for now. In reality, it’s the scaffolding for a resilient future. Your business becomes like a good tree that can bend in the wind but not break. Happy customers today are your best advertisers tomorrow. And they will stand by you even in hard times because they believe in you.
In challenging times, your reflex may be to retract. Rest assured that many of your competitors will do that. But the astute move is to double down on what matters most—your customers. By elevating your CX, you will not only weather the current storm but also set the course for lasting success.
Now is the moment to introspect. How can you elevate your customer experience? Act upon your ideas. Your investment in CX today is a pledge for the longevity and fortitude of your business. Start now; it’s a strategic move and simply the right thing to do. Your customers’ gratitude will echo in the robustness of your future business.
Originally Published on Forbes.