Why You Should Invest More in the Customer Experience

What is the customer experience, exactly? When does it start and when does it end? Is it the way employees treat a customer? Does it just boil down to customer service? Is it the tools and platforms the customer interacts with?

In truth, the customer experience is encompassing of all of these factors and more. From the moment a customer first interacts with a company to the moment they have their last interaction, they are in the middle of the customer experience – and, when the customer has a negative experience and stops interacting with a company, that experience continues to resonate.

The customer experience is something companies love to talk about, but where customer-facing companies such as retailers differentiate themselves from the competition is in their commitment to planning, implementing, and improving their customer experience in a holistic way. That all begins with an investment on the part of the retailer. It can be difficult, especially in retail environments, where profit margins can be slim, to make that commitment to invest in improving the customer experience, but it will pay huge dividends in the long run. Here are a few reasons why.

A Strong Customer Experience Is a Sales Driver

When a customer clicks on a website and views a company’s homepage for the first time, or calls them on the phone, or walks in the door of their retail store, all of the elements that retailer has worked to put in place should all work towards delivering a smooth customer experience that makes sales, yes, but also develops relationships that will result in ongoing business and positive word of mouth.

Customers that are satisfied with their experience are happier in the moment and likelier to make a purchase, and subsequently likelier to recommend your business to others. It seems obvious, but it’s all-too-common in the retail industry to focus more on the structure of a business that on the experience it delivers at a basic level.

A great example of this comes from the world of consumer financing. The whole reason customers are interested in consumer finance options is because they want flexibility when it comes to their purchasing decision. Yet, many retailers focus on the funnel. They want to funnel the customer towards an outcome, and everything is structured around attaining that outcome. But there is absolutely such as a thing as being too sales-focused.

For example, if you decide that certain categories of customers are less likely to actually make a financed purchase and you instruct your employees to only offer financing to those you believe fall into the likely-to-finance category, you’re going to miss out on sales. It’s a simple equation, really; if you offer financing to every customer, every time, you are going to make more sales over time.

Likewise, if you are too focused on just getting the customer to complete the purchase, you may not have paid enough attention to the actual mechanics of the process. Is it convenient for your customer to finance? Is the process simple and clear? Is it quick and easy? If you have a slow, laborious financing process, you’ve taken the freedom of financing and made it feel restrictive and overwhelming.

The Customer Experience Is Also the Employee Experience

There is no way to ensure every single customer is happy all the time. That doesn’t mean a company shouldn’t strive for that goal, but it is likely to be impossible to achieve. So, some amount of customer dissatisfaction is bound to occur at some point, but you and your team members should always work to avoid it. After all, no one likes interacting with an upset or disappointed customer.

In that sense, the customer experience really very strongly affects the employee experience. If the employee has the right tools, the right process, and the right solutions to maximize customer satisfaction, they’re going to spend more time interacting with happy customers and less time dealing with angry ones. You want to empower your employees by establishing the strongest customer experience possible and putting them in position to win.

The Process Is Often the Problem

Let’s jump back to the example of the poor consumer financing process. Imagine that you have a retail operation that is overall pretty efficient, and a customer experience that is mostly pretty solid. But, unfortunately, the consumer finance process that’s in place has a serious flaw: it takes far too long to process applications due to the duplicate data entry involved in submitting forms to multiple lenders.

The non-investing mindset is to ignore the problem. The forward-thinking, investment-ready mindset is to invest in a solution like FormPiper that automates that process and makes things easier for your employees and customers alike. In so many cases with a negative customer experience, the problem is not the product, the service, or even the staff; it’s often a process problem, and you need to invest in the right tools and solutions to ensure your customer processes are smooth and hassle-free.

Put Your Eggs In the Right Basket

How are you going to invest in your business? What will your top priority be? You can have the best marketing campaigns, the right staff, and the latest technology, but if your core customer experience isn’t ideal, then you’re going to lose out on sales, period. When you sit down to think about key areas of investment for your business, your list should always begin with one phrase: ‘the customer.’

Center everything you do with a focus on the customer and use it as your guiding principle and the rest will fall into place. It lends a natural and sequential structure to your decision making, and everything else ladders up to that top priority. Keep the customer first, invest in the customer experience, and watch your revenue grow.

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