Customer centered. Customer service. Customer experience.
These buzzwords show up consistently in conversations across departments these days. Teams are investing heavily in customer support and experience teams. We talk a lot about putting our customers first, keeping them at the center of everything we do.
The words are nice. The sentiments even nicer. But the real question—is it all talk? Well, that might depend on your company and your role – but let’s hope not!
Actually delighting our customers is extremely important in this age of information, where sales are driven by reviews and past experiences. Let’s explore a few ways we can turn all this talk into action.
Tip 1: Get to know your customers
This first tip might seem simple, but how will you delight your customers if you don’t know who they are and what they care about?
Now before you say you already know them, remember: this knowledge has to go a lot deeper than a basic understanding.
You have to really know them, maybe even better than they know themselves.
The best place to start is with research. That means talking to your actual customers. Surveys, user interviews, and interviews with the sales team can be a good start to learn who your customers are and what they want.
Delighting your customers matters too much to make assumptions.
Once you’ve compiled your research, let your imagination (backed by data) work to build buyer personas. Buyer personas are semi-fictional characters based on research of your real or ideal customers. They help you contextualize and categorize your audience members and they’re a useful tool for keeping everyone at your organization on the same page.
But once your buyer personas are crafted, don’t stop talking to your customers.
Keep the conversations going so you can keep learning what they love, what they need from you, and how you can delight them.
Tip 2: Create an experience
When was the last time you stepped back and looked at a customer’s entire journey with your company? Start with the first time they heard about you and all the way through purchasing a product or service and working with your customer support.
It’s no longer enough to simply care about how customers interact with the department or function you’re responsible for. That won’t delight your customers and it won’t help you and your company be successful.
Instead, you need to expand your focus to your customers’ entire journey to help prevent a disjointed experience.
Customers care about experiences, as much, if not more, than they care about products. If your marketing team cares about your overall brand image, then you might be the ones who need to champion your customers and take ownership of how they feel about your company as they interact with it throughout their journey.
Tip 3: Open the feedback loop
Another way to delight your customers is to make changes based on their opinions and experiences. Don’t forget about them once they buy something from you. Ask them what they thought of the experience and your products.
If you truly care about delighting your customers, you’ll care about their thoughts, feelings, and opinions. You’ll be excited for their feedback, not roll your eyes when a customer complains or shares their thoughts.
An NPS survey is one of the most common ways to quickly, painlessly gain feedback. One simple question: “On a scale of 0-10, how likely is it that you would recommend us to a friend?” This simple question can have a large impact, especially when you think about how quick we are to talk about the products and experiences we love.
We’ll get to that in a minute.
You can also send out personalized surveys to your customers, asking them specific questions that will impact your direction moving forward. Or, give your top customers a call and ask them for their thoughts.
The moral of the story: just ask.
When you value someone’s opinion, it shows. Value your customers, ask for their feedback, and don’t stop there.
Use that feedback to make actual changes in your business and processes.
Tip 4: Make it educational
The content you put together, whether in your emails, blogs, or website, will reflect what you care about. If it’s about your sales initiatives, that’s fine. But what if you focused instead on your customers and their questions?
Something our team tries to do on a regular basis is send our clients helpful tidbits or industry news. It’s not because we’re trying to sell them on an additional service or get them to spend more money with us. It’s just that we want them to know that they are top of mind, and that we want to partner with them to be successful.
That might look different based on the size of your customer base, but why not share helpful tips and tricks?
Why not send an email newsletter is focused on helping them, rather than selling to them?
Maybe you don’t know what your customers want to know. I would first redirect you back to the first tip.
There are also some helpful tools like AnswerThePublic that can help you figure out specifically what your customers are asking about a certain topic. Then you can gear content and your conversations to answer those questions.
Make sure your content educates as well. That’s the priority. Not “what do I want to tell them” but “what do they want to know?” Customers (or potential customers) might be looking for more information about your products.
Or they may be looking for tips from an expert in your industry—and you have the authority to teach them! Don’t make your content decisions based on what sounds right to you as a member of the marketing team.
Build a strategy catered to your customers.
But the real kicker to all of it—why does it matter?
If you’re anything like me, you’ve had the idea of a marketing funnel drilled into your mind, time and time again.
Top of the funnel content? Check.
Middle of the funnel? Awesome.
All the way down to the bottom. And that’s where it stops.
As if we can wash our hands of people once they make it through the funnel. Pass them off to sales.
Once they make the sale, pass them off to someone else and consider it a job well done, right?
The customer journey with your company doesn’t end once they pay you. Which means your efforts can’t end there either.
People talk about what they love. For example, I once ate at True Food Kitchen in Nashville. Our food was a bit slow and, because of this, the owner came, talked to us, and gave us free dessert. Not only was the food amazing (the dessert especially) but the service was memorable! I talked about it with so many people, recommending that they check it out!
People also talk about bad experiences.
Think about the last time you had a bad experience with a company or product. Maybe it was your internet provider. Or a delayed flight. Or online shopping went bad.
What was your response? Even if it wasn’t an official review, you probably talked about it with your family and friends, influencing their view of the company and potentially their future behavior.
This word-of-mouth marketing can have a huge impact on the future of your company. Whether your “word-of-mouth” comes from face-to-face referrals or customer reviews online, it’s important to remember that people trust people.
So it’s even more important to care obsessively about the experience those people have. People who are delighted with your company will be quick to share their experiences with others, giving you the opportunity to delight even more customers in the future.
Article contributed by Ali Roth.