When businesses discuss success, they often use abstract terms and generalities that few people actually understand. When it comes to the oft-thrown around term “consumer/customer experience,” do you know what it actually means? It’s only after you develop an accurate and thorough understanding of consumer experience that you can improve it in your business.
What Is Consumer Experience?
According to an article published in the Harvard Business Review, the consumer experience refers to “the customer’s end-to-end journey” with your organization. The authors of the article, in their research, found that those organizations that are able to accurately and effectively manage the entire experience “reap enormous rewards: enhanced customer satisfaction, reduced churn, increased revenue, and greater employee satisfaction.”
Tips for Improving Consumer Experience
With so much at stake, is your business doing everything it can to increase consumer experience? Here are a few ways in which you can start:
- Honesty and transparency. Your customers are not stupid. In most instances, they know when you are being honest and when you are hiding something. When a customer asks a question you don’t know, be honest with them. Instead of making up some generic response, say, “I’m not sure, but that’s a great question. Let me find you an answer.”
- Accept returns. Unless you are selling used products and services, a no-returns-allowed policy isn’t good for your consumer experience. When it comes to losing a customer versus losing a sale, always go with the latter. Accepting returns is a simple thing you can do to show customers you care about their purchase experience. Target offers an example of terms that typical retailers adhere to. They allow unopened items to be returned within 90 days for full reimbursement. After 90 days, unused items may be returned for store credit. While Target receives many returns, its policies have proven successful over the years.
- Welcome customers. Walmart has found great success with hiring greeters at the front of every store. It’s a small personal touch that goes a long way in showing customers you care. Furthermore, when customers are inside, be sure to approach them and ask if they need anything, instead of forcing them to approach you. The key is to have help readily available, while not hovering over shoppers. Have your clerks and employees walk around the sales floor frequently, but don’t instruct them to bother employees unless they ask for it or appear to need it.
- Go above the call. As a business, your practices are likely dictated by the industry you’re in. For example, most fast food restaurants offer free refills, the majority of hair salons accept tips, and grocery stores are expected to bag food items. While you certainly want to live up to industry standards, make it a habit of going above and beyond. An example of exceeding expectations as a fast food restaurant can be found by looking at popular chains like Whataburger and Chick-fil-a. Not only do these stores offer free refills, but many of them have employees walk around and get refills for customers. It’s a small touch that goes a long way.
- Show your passion. For entrepreneurs who start businesses, the passion for what they do is almost always there. Unfortunately, not every entrepreneur visibly shows this emotion to customers for fear of appearing overzealous or unprofessional. The truth of the matter is that most consumers want passion. Show them you care about your business, your sales, and your customers.
Consumer Experience Matters
In retail in particular, consumer experience matters. Are you paying attention to your customers and how your business treats them? The key to long-term success in the business world is securing long-lasting, professional relationships and partnerships. How well you handle consumer experience in your stores will dictate whether you are able to foster these relationships.