5 Tips for Your Business to Minimize Bad Customer Experiences
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The best, most iconic businesses are obsessed with fostering a positive customer experience. They scrutinize every aspect of their operations—from employee training to brick-and-mortar locations to the digital storefront—to ensure that customers respond positively. But what happens when something goes wrong?
One bad experience with your business can cost you a customer for life. An alarming 96% of customers will never use a company again if they receive bad service. Losing one customer is bad enough for your bottom line, but consider the aggregate impact if multiple customers have negative experiences with your brand and permanently take their business elsewhere.
Creating a great customer experience is crucial for any business. But you also need to have a plan in place to minimize the number of dissatisfied customers and, if a bad experience does occur, a strategy for trying to win the customer back.
What Is a Bad Customer Experience?
The answer might seem obvious, but it is important to be precise. Negative experiences can happen at any point in the customer journey. This can range from off-putting or aggressive marketing to difficulties making a purchase online or in person to problems with subsequent billing and purchases.
Today’s digital marketplace gives businesses countless touchpoints where they can reach their customers. Unfortunately, this also creates multiple opportunities for the relationship to sour.
How to Drive More Positive Customer Experiences
Negative experiences are inevitable, and all businesses will lose a customer at one point or another. The key is to take steps to keep bad customer experiences to an absolute minimum. You can accomplish this through the following steps:
1. Training Your Staff
Customer service employees are on the front lines of your business. And yet, the importance of customer service is often disregarded. Sometimes this occurs because an employee has a bad attitude or isn’t a good fit for the role, but lack of training is the more likely culprit when it comes to persistent breakdowns in customer service.
Employees need to be trained to serve customers effectively. This includes not only procedures and systems but how to handle fraught situations with compassion and understanding. Ultimately, it often comes down to empowering each and every employee to do what is necessary to correct a customer’s bad experience; consider the Ritz-Carlton, where employees are required to complete 250 hours of training each year and are famously invested with the discretion to spend up to $2,000 in order to rectify negative guest experiences.
2. Tracking Customer Data
Old-school companies might be content with a physical book of business, but they are missing out on a vast collection of digital data. Your website, CRM, and marketing channels can provide a vast array of data on your customers. One of the benefits of robust data is the ability to identify areas of customer dissatisfaction and make improvements to avoid bad experiences.
After the various data sources are up and running, you can use online analytics to engage in social listening. This enables you and your employees to better understand the audience and adjust the customer experience to maximize the number of positive interactions. When a customer has a bad experience, analytics data will also allow you to become aware sooner and respond appropriately.
3. Communicating with Dissatisfied Customers
One of the worst mistakes any business can make is failing to respond to negative comments and reviews from customers. In addition to the probability of losing that customer forever, bad reviews can negatively affect your search rankings and put off potential customers who lose faith in your product or service based on what they read.
Customer reviews represent a critical barometer for customer satisfaction. You need to pay close attention to reviews—positive, negative, and neutral—and always be responsive no matter the sentiment. In fact, gracefully handling a bad review can turn a customer’s negative experience into a positive one and demonstrate to other customers that you are dedicated to providing quality service.
4. Understanding What Your Customers Really Think
From online reviews to social media, there are a plethora of ways to understand how customers feel about your business. You can take things a step further with efforts such as focus groups and surveys.
That said, it is important to ensure that polls are conducted among an audience that is truly representative of your customer base. Basing your marketing efforts on an unrepresentative audience can skew your marketing results by up to 60%. Surveys, meanwhile, are often poorly designed, requiring respondents to answer multiple questions across multiple screens that would try just about anyone’s patience.
The solution is to simplify the process of understanding your customers. Often, this can be achieved through direct communication with customers via social media, email campaigns, and more. Requests for feedback (such as surveys and polls) should be as simple and straightforward as possible. This will allow you to determine what works for your customers, as well as identify and anticipate issues that lead to negative experiences.
5. Avoiding Employee Silos
Sales, marketing, and customer service employees have different KPIs. However, they should also understand the common goals toward which everyone at the company needs to be working. Ideally, all employees share in the responsibility of creating positive customer experiences.
Regular meetings and consistent communication between departments can avoid employee silos and lead to an alignment of departmental goals. This, in turn, should result in a more cohesive—and consistently positive—experience for your customers.
Read More: Is Your Intake Process Set Up to Maximize Marketing Conversions?
Often, the disconnect between departments within a company stems from a culture where the people at the top care more about the bottom line than they do the customers who create their success. If your business struggles with this problem, it may be necessary to realign the way your company is structured and how different departments approach customer service.
This may require a drastic shift. However, the benefits of a focused, customer-centric approach to operations can only lead to more satisfied customers and greater success for your business as a whole.
How a Marketing Agency Can Help
The customer experience should be an extension of your brand. At Twelve Three Media, we are passionate about helping businesses develop effective brand positioning. Our Branding Experts assess all aspects of your business identity—from your mission and vision to your target customers to your products and services—and create a cohesive strategy for driving positive customer experiences.
We also draw on our in-depth knowledge of leading analytics platforms and reporting tools to help you understand what customers are saying about your business and how you can manage your reputation. Our team thoroughly explains the data so you can see how customers are responding to your marketing efforts and how they experience your brand.
Ready to optimize your customer experience and drive more leads and sales? Contact Twelve Three Media to learn how you can bring your business to the next level!
A version of this article was originally published on Forbes.