It’s up to you: Here are more than 30 customer touch points where you could be losing customers or gaining ground.
Nothing is healthier for your business and does more to alleviate professional stress than cultivating a healthy, loyal client base. Retention and loyalty initiatives may require an investment of time, supplies or money on your part; however, it can cost up to 5 times or more to gain new clients than it does to retain current clients.
The steps you take to ensure customers will return, and will do so at the frequency you desire as well as the efforts you make to increase the number of solutions your business provides for your customers them (i.e., they spend more money with you, more often, and little-to-none with your direct competitors) are well worth the effort. One of the basic starting points to customer retention is good old “customer satisfaction,” and this requires that you implement tools for, solicit and welcome customer feedback –good or bad.
Take the time to evaluate a customer’s experience from their first visit to your web site, receipt of an advertisement, or the placing of that first phone call to your business through to the points that would comprise “the end” of their experience or visit. Evaluate each and every aspect of a customer’s journey at each possible touch point because you never know where you might be “losing” customer interest or fail to live up to their expectations in some way.
You could be losing prospective and current customers at any of the following touch points:
- Advertisements designed to draw in a new customer
- Offers or new client reward designed to draw in a new customer
- Web site landing page, targeted offer pages, site navigation, “contact” or “directions”
- Facebook page, blog and other social media sites
- Responses to “new customer” inquiries via telephone, e-mail, web site, social media site
- Incoming call automated messages and on-hold messages
- After hours telephone messages
- Performance of referral rewards system (both to new client and to the customer who referred them)
- Ease of finding your location and parking
- Outside of store and/or outside of business park or web store point of entry
- Window displays and signage on doors or windows or anything else on the outside meant to draw the customer in
- If and how the customer is greeted upon entry
- If and how/where the customer is directed to begin shopping or get directions
- Where and how the customer ‘checks in’ for an appointment or scheduled visit
- Waiting area and length of wait
- Furnishings and decor
- Refreshments or points of hospitality (free or for pay, such as an in-store coffee or sandwich store)
- Ease of shopping, ease of finding items provided on a sample ‘shopping list’ or ease of finding desired products in online store
- Friendliness of support staff such as receptionist, bookkeeper, assistants or aides
- Professionalism of any professional care or service providers (and support staff), perception of knowledge, education, expertise
- Prescriptive advice for professional or home-use products, or the “you might also like” suggested selling of additional items on web store
- Knowledge of staff about products or services, online descriptions of products or services (even if purchases will be made in-store)
- Staff ability to up sell, knowledge of products and ability to suggest additional items
- Any point where the customer or prospect is asked for contact information including e-mail address or asked to subscribe to communications
- Ease of point of purchase or check out experience
- Length or complication of check out process, staff ability and attitude, self check out options, etc.
- Helpfulness at the point of check out
- If and how the customer is thanked before leaving
- How the customer is dismissed or told ‘goodbye’
- What happens after the visit; follow up, bounce back offer, re-booking process, customer satisfaction survey
- Experience at home with products purchased or results of services
That’s more than 30 basic customer touch points at which you have the opportunity to damage or enhance a customer’s experience in any one given encounter!
It is precisely the attention you devote to making the customer experience truly special – the ‘extra’ things that you do – which tell the client that you are personally interested in their well being louder than any words you speak. And it is the extent to which you intelligently and intentionally create an ideal client experience, at every customer touch point, that will set you apart from the competition, ensuring that clients feel that you truly value their business (rather than take it for granted).
It’s often difficult for us to truly view our business from the standpoint of a new customer, for the simple reason that we are too close to it. There are many things that a new customer may notice as either a glaring problem or a shining plus; but since we see the same things day in and day out, they may not stand out in the same way to our eyes or ears.
One effective way to see your business through the eyes of a new customer is to enlist the help of a secret shopper; either by hiring a professional service to conduct a new customer shopping experience or by asking a trusted friend or business peer not known within your company to try out your business as a new customer and report back on various aspects of their first touch experience. You can also create task forces from within your employee ranks or a focus group comprised of key stakeholders (they might all be customers, but you might also include key vendors or employees). You can create simple feedback systems and surveys and ask (or even reward) key stakeholders or all customers for their participation.
If you plan to build your own surveys, you can either ask several general questions to identify areas of concern or you can focus your questions on specific areas in order to address one service area at a time. You may have preconceived ideas or strong personal opinions about certain employees, services, products or other specific aspects of your business, but you should try to keep these ideas from influencing how you ask questions. Don’t try to guide your ‘mystery shopper’ to support pre-drawn conclusions by creating questions that reveal your bias. This process will produce the most accurate information and lead you to the best solutions only if you approach both the process and the analysis of survey results with an open mind.