Did you know that it takes 12 positive customer experiences to make up for 1 negative one?

We’ve all had a bad customer experience, haven’t we?

Research certainly seems to suggest so with 47 percent of people taking to social

media to complain about a business. You can easily see how damaging that can be to a small business that relies on social media marketing for lead generation and growth.

Poor communication is often to blame for a negative customer experience

It’s frustrating to order something and not hear anything for days, even weeks later. We have recent experience of this, and it certainly left us wanting to tear our hair out!

We decided to outsource to a freelancer. It started off well and we felt confident in our decision. Unfortunately, we were then left for weeks without hearing anything. Chasing things up we were met with excuses, promises that were never met and a growing unease that we were never going to get what we paid for.

These are not feelings you want to create in your customers.

It’s positive customer experiences that mark you out from the competition

According to a report by Walker, “customer Experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator by the year 2020”, which is backed up by McKinsey with research that found “70 percent of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated.”

It’s common sense really, isn’t it?

Make your customers feel good and they’ll keep coming back for more, which is why it’s astonishing to see so many businesses continue to get it wrong.

Here’s our guide to making sure you deliver a world-class customer experience every time.

  1. Make sure your customers know what they’re getting
  2. Make sure they know when they’re going to get it
  3. Provide regular updates and be honest if something crops up or goes wrong
  4. Make it easy for customers to get in touch with you
  5. Ask for feedback and don’t be afraid of criticism

Transparency from the very beginning is crucial to getting it right

We made the biggest mistake going when we outsourced – there wasn’t a written contract in place.

A contract or terms of engagement agreement is so important for both parties involved. It means that your customer knows what they’re going to get, when and how they’re going to get it and have some protection when things go wrong.

You can use a contract to set out how your working relationship is going to be. Things like:

  • What you need from your client to get started
  • Timescales and agreed milestones
  • Payment terms
  • Revisions, changes, etc
  • A kill clause – how the contract can be terminated

It means your client knows where they stand, exactly what they’ll get and what they need to do to fulfill their end of the agreement, and you’ve established how you’ll work, what you charge and when your service or product will be delivered.

Deadlines are important for you, and your clients

Without a contract in place when we outsourced, although we were given a timeframe of 2-3 weeks, we were still chasing things up 9 weeks later, and there wasn’t much we could do about it!

Deadlines are important.

They help you plan your diary ensuring you can block time off for your projects, meetings, and anything else you have to contend with. Time is something we simply cannot get away from, and never seem to have enough of but having specific dates to work to makes it so much easier to meet your obligations.

Your client will know when to expect the goods. This can make or break for a business owner – are they relying on your products to deliver something for their own customers? Is there marketing strategy dependent on you getting the website finished by a certain date?

Before you put the contract together make sure you know how your product or service fits in with your client’s plans. Ask them if anything is dependent on this and make sure they understand how long you’ll need to get things done so they can plan around it.

Regular updates are important – especially if something doesn’t go to plan

This might not be necessary if what you’re doing is relatively quick and easy – writing a blog, for example. But some services take a few weeks or longer to get right, and keeping your client informed of progress is essential.

We’re not saying you have to send an email every day, or even every week (although you can probably expect some clients to be contacting you with far more frequency than you can imagine possible). But a message once a while just to say ‘things are going to plan, we’re on target for meeting your deadline’ can go a long way in making your customer feel informed and confident in you.

It’s when things go wrong that you really need to be on the ball and contact your customers.

Real life hits us all and puts a spanner in the works at times. Whether it’s a sudden illness, family matter or a delay from your suppliers – be upfront and honest with your clients. Explain that things will take longer, and if you can, why. Most people will appreciate being kept up to date and won’t bat an eyelash at the delay but if you don’t tell them and the deadline passes by… that’s a big dent in your reputation.

Make it easy for your customers to get in touch with you

No, you don’t have to give out your phone number if you don’t want to.

Sometimes our communication methods aren’t all they’re cracked up to be – missing emails do happen. Make it clear in your contract how you can be contacted – social media channels are a great option alongside your email address. A virtual landline number can be a great idea and diverted to a virtual assistant if you’re not able to be contacted (or simply prefer to filter your calls).

Some business owners are afraid of opening up too many lines of communication in case they get bombarded, but if you’re doing your marketing well, then you already have a strong online presence. It’s better to receive too many messages than having disgruntled clients complaining of your social media pages.

Being specific in your contract by means of communicating with you, along with your ‘office hours’ is certainly the way to go here. Yes, we get messages asking for things at 10 pm on a Saturday night (same time zone!), but we acknowledge it when we can and explain we’ll get back in touch when we’re next in the office.

Ask for feedback from your clients

Sometimes we think we’ve provided a glowing service only to not get a raving review on our Facebook page. Even when our clients tell us how pleased they are – something’s stopping them from telling others of their experience.

Sometimes, they simply forget and asking for feedback can be a great way to get a recommendation.

But often it’s because something wasn’t quite right, and the only way to know what that was so you can improve for next time is to ask for that honest feedback. Criticism can be difficult, and we all know there are some customers we’re never going to be able to please, but there are things we can always improve on.

A short questionnaire with a question on the key aspects of your service can be a great way to get the information you need, things like:

  • Communication
  • The service/product itself
  • How they found the experience
  • Things you did well
  • Things they think you could improve on
  • Overall ranking out of 5

Even if you don’t get any criticism (well done!) or a recommendation out of it, it will give you some data you can use in your marketing – 80 percent of our clients ranked us 5/5, for example.

Putting yourself in your customer’s shoes is always the best way to improve the customer experience you deliver

We’ve all had bad experiences, and we can learn from them to ensure that we try to ensure our own clients have a positive time when working with us. If you’ve got any hints or tips on how to create a great customer experience we’d love to hear them! Feel free to drop them in a comment below.