The customer experience – are you getting it right?

New sales are the lifeblood of any profitable business, whether they are generated from your existing and loyal customers who have been with you for a number of years or those choosing to work with you for the first time. Without them, a company will ultimately stagnate and fail. So targets are set, teams are built and responsibilities allocated – and off your team go to chase that potential new customer or job and ultimately, revenue for your business.

One area that is often overlooked in the drive to boost sales is to consider just how satisfying an experience is it to deal with your organisation? If the answer is ‘Not very’, or even ‘Not sure’, or maybe you have concerns over how customers feel  after they have dealt with certain members of your team, then a considerable amount of your sales and business development effort will be in vain. Similarly, is the image of your organisation in the market place compatible with your perception? Is it representative of your culture and how you do business?

For successful companies, customer satisfaction permeates throughout the organisation and drives everything they do, so as to increase revenues and profitability.

For organisations driven by a customer-focused culture – take John Lewis as an example – this is certainly the case. They seek to make the experience for their customers as smooth and pleasurable as possible. Everything is done to drive brand loyalty and remove barriers to sale and to make you, the customer, feel important and valued. Nothing is too much trouble and the corporate image presented is very carefully managed.

When was the last time you reassessed your customer experience, from the very outset of their first engagement with you (and that will be well before they have even signed up with you as a customer) to daily interactions with  your team and at every level throughout the business? What do you offer your customers? Is what you offer delivered consistently by everyone across the business? What messages does your company, and the way is does business with its customers and suppliers, send out? And don’t overlook the ‘small’ things; attention to detail is key; from the greeting of the receptionist, the appeal and ease of use of the company’s website, how easy you are to get hold of by telephone and the accuracy of your database all drive perception and the customer experience.

Your accounts filed at Companies House make a statement too, not just in terms of the results they contain, but also the way in which they are presented. People  do look at them so use the opportunity to (briefly) explain about the year just gone and how the business is responding to challenges. Look at the level of detail and information given in a set of accounts published by a listed PLC; the detail, combined with the presentation, is all aimed at conveying a positive message and a certain image.

Next time you make a purchase, reflect on why you made it, where you made it and what the experience was like (even consider how the purchasing process may you feel). Compare this with your own company – what might the experience be for your customers? Why not ask them? You may be pleasantly surprised. And if not, it gives you the perfect opportunity to learn from your customers and to put things right.

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