6 Reasons Your Customers Should Be Thankful

Giving thanks for a positive customer experience for Thanksgiving this year.

As we enter the season of giving thanks during a year of uncertainty and fear, we can take a moment and appreciate the good things in life. Thanksgiving in the United States is a time to acknowledge what we as customers can be thankful for during these unprecedented times.

Here are six things that companies are doing to provide a positive customer experience during a confusing time, for which we are eternally thankful:

  1. Clear language: Using clear, concise language is a simple way to improve the customer experience, but many companies haven’t taken the time to hire a good copy editor. The healthcare industry, for example, still uses words that research has shown patients don’t understand. But companies like Target have written fun, encouraging building instructions for do-it-yourself furniture that remove the stress and dread of a big project. And technology like VisibleThread allows companies to check content for readability. Even legal disclosure is fair game, as translating “legalese” into understandable language is a win for both customers and the lawyers whose goal it is to ensure customers understand what they’re getting into.
  2. Fewer pain points: The customer experience journey is filled with pain points, and many of them are known to the companies providing them. Technology is filled with “known errors” or software bugs that persist for way too long. Companies that allow these poor experiences to persist put undue pressure on their customers – and service agents – to identify their own workarounds. And yet fixing these pain points is often the quickest way to improve the overall experience. At Discover, my digital team helped the company win its first J.D. Power Award for customer satisfaction by identifying and fixing dozens of errors and pain points on the website, the largest customer interaction channel.
  3. Simple navigation: Helping customers to navigate your systems easily is a must if you want to keep them happy. This goes for digital channels like a website or mobile app and for “old-school” channels like the telephone. Navigation fails when it’s designed to mimic the company’s organizational structure, which the customer doesn’t care about, or when it provides choices that all sound the same. With digital properties, look at common search terms to identify things that your customers are having trouble finding; for an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) telephone system, track how many customers are “zeroing out” to the operator because they don’t understand or are frustrated by the other choices.
  4. Broken-down silos: When companies are siloed internally, the customer experience is almost always affected externally. This is because everyone is so busy managing their own small portion of the customer journey, there’s no one looking at the entirety of the experience. The connection between multiple experiences is often a source of customer pain points, because the “handoff” isn’t smooth. A classic example of this is a software update that adds new features but creates several “bugs” in the process. When silos are broken, the overall experience flourishes. Take Amazon, for example. It’s not just one of the search, recommendation, ordering, shipping and returns processes that work well; they all work flawlessly – together.
  5. Two-way loyalty: When customers are loyal to a particular brand, they expect that loyalty to be returned. That doesn’t necessarily require a traditional loyalty program though; sometimes all it takes is engaging with a customer’s tweet, or sending a hand-written thank-you card. Customers want to feel special, valued and appreciated by the companies with which they do business. The companies that do this well have customers for life, and even better, ambassadors who willingly provide word-of-mouth marketing by telling their friends and sharing their positive experiences on social media.
  6. Showing support in a difficult time: When the world shifted earlier this year and people’s normal routines were abruptly affected, some companies extended their support in unique ways to keep their customers engage even if they couldn’t come into their stores. A perfect example of this is Starbucks sending an email to customers offering a unique resource that is perfectly applicable for those not able to come in for their regular visit: downloadable virtual backgrounds featuring real Starbucks stores to help customers stay connected to that Starbucks coffee house feeling. That gesture told customers that they were appreciated even if they could only go through the drive-thru for a while and added a bit of humor and fun in a world of fear and uncertainty. Customer experience is even more important in times of crisis.

This year has taught us many new lessons about supporting customers, as well as reinforced the parts of our business that proved to be strong. As Thanksgiving approaches, let’s be thankful for all we have learned this year and be proud of all the positive changes that have come about during this time. And may all of your customers be thankful for the experience you provide them!