Make 2016 The Year of the Customer



Are you ready for 2016? If you’re like most business owners, you reviewed last year’s goals and set new ones for the coming year. When you defined those goals, did you include customer experience?

I believe that customer experience should be integrated into all aspects of business. Customers are the only reason your business exists. Customer experience goals don’t have to be costly to have big returns for your business. If you have just a 5% increase in customer retention, you can increase profitability by 75%!

Improving customer experience begins with information and data. Begin by stepping back to take a really good look at every point where customers touch your business. Look the exterior of your business, the reception area and sales floor. Also look at your online presence. Is it current and user friendly? How well does the phone system work for your customers? If you have a customer service department, how do they make your customers feel?

You can also gather data by asking your customers. One common method to get feedback is through surveys. Be careful with surveys. If done poorly, they can irritate your customers. Some businesses offer the old fashion comment cards while others ask customers to send comments through a web form. One often-overlooked source of data is your employees. They have valuable perspectives on the entire customer journey through your business. They know what works and what doesn’t. TALK to them!

Aggregate the data you gather to identify trends and problems that need to be addressed, as well as positive areas to accentuate. Act on what you learn. It’s important to your customers. They took time to share the feedback with you. You should take the time to use it.

Communicate your customer experience mission throughout the organization. Engage all employees in making your customers the centerpiece of your business. Don’t forget to let employees know how important they are to your customer experience and ultimately, your business success. As J. Willard Marriott said, “Take care of associates and they’ll take care of your customers and the customers will come back again and again.”

Originally appeared in the January 2016 Carmel Business Leader.

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