As we enter another season of giving thanks, let’s take a moment and appreciate the good things in life. Thanksgiving in the United States is a time to acknowledge what we are thankful for, and hopefully your customers are thankful for you.
Here are six things that you should be doing to create a positive customer experience and thankful customers all year round, not just at Thanksgiving:
1) Use 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 (I wrote about this in my book, The Experience Maker). Even legal disclosures are 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) Remove 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 reducing customer effort 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) Simplify navigation
Helping customers to navigate your systems easily is a must if you want to keep them happy (Listen to the Experience This! podcast, episode 48). 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. Likewise when all of the options sound the same, customers are confused. 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) Break 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) Make sure loyalty goes both ways
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) Always be WISER than the competition
WISER—the methodology outlined in The Experience Maker which stands for Witty, Immersive, Shareable, Extraordinary, and Responsive—contains all the ingredients needed to create memorable, loyalty-building experiences that customers can’t wait to share with others. It’s like a great Thanksgiving feast, except that you can’t eat it. But you can talk about it the next day.
This Thanksgiving, may all of your customers be thankful for the experience you provide them. And don’t forget to give thanks back.