Customer Experience: Getting the Customer is Only the First Step

The best marketing strategy in the world can only have temporary results if it doesn’t account for the entire customer experience. Sure, our first job is to get people in the door, on the lot or to the website, but that’s just the beginning of the journey.

I was lucky to learn this at my first and only job before I started my professional career. I was working at a high-end butcher shop in downtown Cincinnati where the clientele had expectations for their rack of lamb just as high as my current clients do for their multi-million-dollar marketing campaigns.

How does a teenager become a butcher at such a place and what did I learn from my time working there? For the first question, ask my dad. For the second, I think it’s safe to say that I learned as much working as a butcher as I did in college.

Scary, right?

The most important lesson I learned there is that the customer experience is just as important as the product. This is easy to overlook while organizations focus on product and process, but it can be the most important part of your business plan. Marketing’s job isn’t over when the customer comes through the door. In some ways it’s just beginning.

Think about it.

One of the first lessons at the butcher shop was wrapping orders. At the time I didn’t understand why my father made such a big deal about it. Finally, he explained that the package that goes out the door is a big part of the customer experience. The way it feels in our guest’s hands, the way it looks that afternoon in the refrigerator. The appearance, the aroma, the reveal when he first unwraps his roast or chops to start cooking. All those moments are an opportunity to reinforce his decision to choose us. The challenge is to own as many of those moments as possible.

Why is that customer in the market in the first place? It’s a butcher shop, so the simple answer is for food. But probably not because they’re hungry. Usually, our customers were preparing a meal to be shared with others, and likely somebody they wanted to impress.

That changes the equation.

It means they need more than just quality product. They want and expect our expertise beyond which cut is particularly good that day. We’d make suggestions for preparation and serving, selecting side dishes and other ideas for making their meal a success. We understood that we were playing a role in that special meal and it could very well be one of the most important occasions in our customer’s week … or career or relationship.

And the customer experience isn’t complete until the dishes are cleared from the table.

How you create an unforgettable customer experience will be specific to your business, products or services, and target audience. However, there are some things that all businesses can do to improve their customer experience. These may seem basic, but in our experience, they’re often overlooked. Ready?

Here are our top two tips for creating an unforgettable customer experience. Plus, how St. Gregory can help you implement them.

Customer Experience Tip 1: Be Convenient

There are many different ways that customers might communicate with your business, including:

  • Phone calls
  • Face-to-face interactions
  • Text messages
  • Online chats
  • Social media messages
  • Website forms
  • Emails
  • Old fashioned snail mail

How your customers (and potential customers) prefer to communicate with you about your products or services will depend on a lot of factors such as the urgency of their need and audience demographics like age.

Do not force your customers to conform to your preferred methods of communication! Instead, take steps to identify which channels your customers prefer and make yourself available.

When it comes to customer experience tip one, St. Gregory can help you identify those preferred communication channels by mining any existing website and marketing data, such as that from Google Analytics, and conducting consumer research.

Pro tip: Keep in mind that some people may prefer no communication. Part of being convenient is making it easy for people to find the information they need without having to reach out to you and wait for a response. This can be achieved through website copy, blog posts, an online knowledge base, or chatbots.

St. Gregory has experienced copywriters that can help craft search engine optimized and user-friendly copy that conveys necessary information. In addition, our web designers can help you make smart user experience decisions that will make your website more accessible to current and perspective customers.

Customer Experience Tip 2: Learn and Grow

Guess who knows what your customers really want … that’s right, your customers. In order to create that unforgettable customer experience, you have to listen to current, perspective, and yes, former customers.

How you solicit this feedback may vary. Here are a few possible options:

  • Customer experience surveys that are sent out after a product is purchased or after a service is provided.
  • Polls sent out to social media audiences or email lists.
  • Polls conducted at community events or community gathering places.
  • Online reviews.

Ask your customers and audiences for their opinion and feedback. Analyze the information you receive for opportunities. Then, and this is the most important part, use that knowledge to improve the customer experience!

Feedback is useless if you don’t actually learn from it.

At St. Gregory, our public relations specialists can help you design reputation management and community engagement plans that includes soliciting customer feedback and reviews.

Bonus, not only will online reviews help you improve your customer experience, they can also help you make more sales. A study by the Spiegel Research Center showed that the “likelihood of a product getting purchased increases 270% when it gets five reviews.”

Yes, 270%. That is not a typo.

And notice that it’s just five reviews; the study did not specify positive versus negative reviews. While you do not want a bevy of bad reviews, a few will not sink your ship, so to speak. In fact, one or two bad reviews mixed in with a bunch of stellar reviews can actually make your business seem more credible. Speaking of negative reviews….

It can be hard to receive critical feedback, especially in a public setting such as Google or Facebook.

However, remember, every complaint is an opportunity to provide an unforgettable customer experience. How you act in the face of negativity can be far more telling than how you act when everything is going perfectly.

When you do receive a negative review, before responding, read our tips on how to handle negative reviews.

St. Gregory is a full-service marketing agency. That means we can help with all of your marketing and customer experience needs including digital and traditional marketing, public relations and community engagement, reputation management, and creative needs like graphic design, video production, and content marketing. We’d love to talk to you about how to take your customer experience to a buzz-worthy level. For a free consultation on how we might be an asset to your business, contact us today.