How to provide a great customer experience and why it pays?

by Ashvini on July 26, 2012 · 8 comments

in Business

Marketing is a tool/method which helps a business enhance their customer’s experience. A great storefront with friendly employees makes for a happy customer who lingers around to buy more stuff. This is true for retail stores as well as online sites. The increase in traffic on a site is often attributed to higher earnings because of higher ad impressions and click throughs,

Happy customer experience

My favourite bookstore

A lot of bookstores these days have a coffee shop and comfy chairs to sit, where people can read books at leisure. I like this company’s ( Crosswords ) retail stores though it is strange why they have put any information about their awesome retail experience. Don’t just be distracted by their online store. They have got great retail stores where you can browse books sitting comfortably on a leather stool or chair.

The purpose of making the visit more pleasing is to make customers stay. Increasing the stay time may help increase sales.

Why shops want you to relax?

A lot of retail shop play music to create a familiar, comfortable environment. An ethnic wear shop for example would play classical music while trendy clothes store is more likely to play contemporary music. In India, a lot of stores run by families and often selling clothes offer customer a cup of tea. The reason is obvious. A less hassled, relaxed customer is more likely to buy more stuff and is lesser likely to bargain ( yes, you can bargain at many local shops in India: A tip to all foreign tourists).

An example of lower levels of customer experience

On the other hand , I have seen a few retail shops with lesser number of dressing rooms. One of the bigger turn off for mankind(and womankind) is standing in queues. The larger the queue is lesser the customer experience. It then makes a lot of sense to create additional redundant capacity ( more dressing rooms for example in retail) to take on the rush whenever it happens (often suddenly). If customers can not try clothes, they will probably be less likely to purchase them.

The same can be said for your website. Bad design can force your customer to go away.

Here is what a good site need at a minimum

  • A good website selling things should be able to go from product view page to sales page in less than three clicks.
  • The registration form should not feel like filling a government form.
  • There should be helpful nudges and suggestions to help customers wherever needed.
  • Up-selling should be done all the time but it should be as least invasive as possible. Too much upselling will be perceived as a imposing salesman trying to make a sale.
  • The URLs should be such that they can be bookmarked easily ( they are called as search engine friendly urls but I would call them customer friendly URLs).
  •  Search functions should be exhaustive and give users enough options to get what they are looking for.

But bringing a customer to shop is not everything

To add to customer comfort, you may add things like trial period ( depending on business model), guaranteed returns and good services . The service desk needs to handled by humans even though there is a cost to hiring people and paying them. Even big businesses are getting the learning the value of keeping a humans at the customer service end.

Train your staff as much as possible

A more important point is to also make sure that you your staff( internally or externally based on the money you can spend) on customer care etiquettes. A well trained staff always helps in elevating mood of customer. Train staff on your products, your services and customer handling. You might also need to invest in IT infrastructure so that they can have the information readily available when they need it the most, in front of a customer. Your customers will appreciate promptness of your staff while the real reason is that they are supported by IT infrastructure.

Of course it all has a cost

Customer experience definitely does not come without a cost. You have to think of things mentioned above and also many others which I have not covered here.When you are planning for your business, make sure that you account for customer experience and how far your are going to go. It should be included both in your costs and prices.

The point is simple: Customers tend to buy more when they can browse comfortably either on your site or retail store.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Think of ways of doing that see your customer praising you for your great business sense.

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{ 8 comments }

Emilia September 21, 2012 at 8:02 am

I make it a point to commend employees who go out of their way to provide excellent customer service, this instills in them the motivation to keep up the good work. Thanks for the insightful share.

Kristine August 7, 2012 at 3:13 pm

I think what most companies lack is the drive to sustain excellent customer service programs that give utmost importance to providing more than the usual benefits. Customers must be treated with utmost importance and in the event that complaints are filed, they must be dealt with accordingly by providing solutions instead of excuses. Thanks!

Joy August 2, 2012 at 9:32 am

Comfort is key and going the extra mile to meet a customers expectations or better yet exceed them is a vital strategy to have a steady chain of repeat customers and to gain new ones by word of mouth or through effective marketing strategies. Thanks for this very informative share.

Anon July 30, 2012 at 4:12 pm

I love crosswords, I enjoy sitting there and reading books as it is very comfortable being there. A well trained staff is very important too have for every business. The points you have mentioned are great. Thanks for this interesting share.

Lori Gosselin July 28, 2012 at 1:44 am

Hi Ashvini,
I agree with the bookstore-with-chairs concept. It’s a great one! We had a store chain like that but after a while they took the chairs away. The only place you can sit now is in the Starbucks coffee shop which is inside the store. I’m sure they had their reasons, but when they took the chairs away it became a less friendly place. You’re not going to buy books in a coffee shop. I’d be interested to know how that worked for them.
I think our job as business owners is to make the customer feel welcome and feel good. These are some great tips for doing this. And yes, if you have a phone – ANSWER IT YOURSELF! Nobody likes to talk to a machine!
;-)
Lori

Ashvini Kumar Saxena August 3, 2012 at 4:22 pm

Hi Lori,

Being a business owner yourself you would know that how much a customer feels appreciated if someone answers their call. It is quite an obvious thing but is surely missed by many business, who a ) do not bother to take calls b) if they do , they show non caring attitude c) Never feel customer welcome. This hurts when a new technology makes old business models obsolete and then those businesses are left wondering , what did they do wrong.

Thank you Lori for your comment :)

Hemanth Kumar July 27, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Ashvini,
Good points, Customer experience really matters, in fact I left so many stores with out buying bcoz of poor display and response.

Ashvini Kumar Saxena August 3, 2012 at 4:25 pm

You are right. I too walk out rather than standing there awkwardly for more than five minutes.

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