A customer experience does not begin and end at a transaction, website visit, or conversation with an salesperson. The customer experience is the sum total of the moment the customer becomes aware of your company and consist of multiple interactions, transactions, and contacts along the way.
‘The vast number of touch points associated with the overall customer experience makes for a complex process. Therefore it is important to understand how each touch point contributes to the overall customer experience because an issue encountered at any one of these points can dramatically influence the overall experience. By measuring each touch point independently you can determine its contribution to the overall effectiveness as well as more effectively measure the total customer experience’, states Laura Patterson, author of ‘Managing Touch Point Value’.
With the growth of the internet and mobile-smartphone utilization, prospective customers can very easily research a wealth of information, and find the majority of answers for themselves. Thus, the job of the sales person is to not only be knowledgeable, but to now also facilitate this discovery, and provide great service. A Plainville, Connecticut customer commented on Yelp, about the level of service from an area car dealership:
‘I decided that I wanted to sell my 2005 Nissan Altima. After reviewing the trade in value on Kelley Bluebook, I discovered I had negative equity in the vehicle. Because I was only selling the car and not buying another vehicle, I was pessimistic about what kind of offer I’d get.
When I arrived, we were greeted by Vinny. He walked us through the process of selling my car while the vehicle was being inspected by another employee. After the brief consult, we were treated to free coffee/tea/hot chocolate while we waited. After about 15 minutes, Vinny came back and gave us a very reasonable offer on the vehicle which was good for seven days.
I wasn’t ready to sell my car that day, but two weeks later I went through to process again. Harry was just as competent and friendly. When he came back with a quote, I was surprised it was identical to the first quote. I had expected that there would be a slight drop in value since the new model year was starting up.
When I accepted the offer the second time, we ran into unnecessary red tape when dealing with my credit union. They helped me work out the issues with my credit union, and they seemed happy to do it.
When it came time to sign all the paperwork, Jordan gave us the same great service. She was also very efficient without making me feel rushed.
I used to buy all my cars from a dealership that I used to work at (I was not in sales). After this experience, I will probably buy my next vehicle at this dealer.’
Kristin Beaver, in ‘Tips for Making Every Customer Interaction a Positive One’, provides three tips for making sure every interaction for the customer is a great experience:
- Listen-Listening is the first thing you should do. If you don’t listen, you can’t get to the bottom of the problem. Most times, customers just want us to listen and they want to know that someone is there to handle their problem, no matter how big or small.
- Understand the Problem-When we understand the problem we are able to provide a solution. If you don’t fully understand, don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you don’t ask questions and don’t understand what’s going on, you’ll never find a solution and you and the customer will both be going in circles. Along with understanding the customer’s problem, you must understand their frustration and apologize.
- Be personable-Find a way to connect with the customer on a personal level. This will help them realize you are there to help them.
The definition for customer engagement, ‘Repeated interactions that strengthen the emotional, psychological or physical investment a customer has in a brand.’ -Ron Shevlin