How to Evaluate Your Business’ Customer Experience to Improve Return on Investment

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Improving a business’ return on investment (ROI) is easy. Ok, maybe it just sounds easy.

The reality is that most companies do a pretty good job of running their business. So, improving your ROI takes some real effort. You have to do more than all the obvious advice floating around the internet.

One way to squeeze more profits into your bottom line is by evaluating the experience of your customer. Doing so is especially important in high-value businesses that rely on word-of-mouth advertising. 

In those cases, a single bad experience can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost sales when that customer tells their friends and family about it. But, even bad experiences on small sales can add up to big losses.

Consider how poor reviews on Google, Amazon, Trip Advisor, and other sites can quickly sink a company.

Evaluating your customer experience can help your business avoid these pitfalls. However, it requires more than looking at reviews on Google.

While you should do that, chances are that you already are. This article goes deeper. Read on for some ideas on how to evaluate your business’ customer experience to improve your ROI.

Making a good first impression

The customer experience begins far before the first interaction with your team. A potential customer becomes familiar with your product and your brand through your marketing efforts.

How to Evaluate Your Business's Customer Experience to Improve Return on Investment

That’s why building and maintaining a quality brand is important. A business that seems too scammy in its ads won’t build the trust it needs to close a sale. One that overloads the customer’s inbox with spam is just as unlikely to be successful.

The goal is for the customer to become familiar with your brand while associating it with something of value to them. Marketing is more than pushing unsolicited photos of your products and sending daily emails about why people should buy them.

If you are going to make a good impression, you need to have a solid marketing strategy that develops a relationship with the customer.  

Once a customer knows about your business, their next step is to evaluate it. The customer wants to know the price you charge, the quality of your product, and the differences between you and your competition.

More and more, customers also want to know what kind of corporate citizen your business is. They want to know that you contribute to your community, pay your taxes, and do what you can to protect the environment.

Many customers, especially in the younger generations, are more willing to pay from you if it feels like they are supporting your effort to improve the world. That’s a very different experience from the transactional relationships of the past.

Many shoppers no longer want to simply give their money to a profit-seeking enterprise, even if the product is superior and creates value for them. 

So, if you want to improve your customer experience, start by evaluating your image.

What does your brand stand for? How are you projecting your mission statement into your branding efforts? When a customer decides to give you their business, what are the social impacts they are supporting?

Handling first contact

Just as the customer is evaluating your business, it’s often a good idea to know your customer before approaching them.

Understanding where the customer is in the decision process will help you tailor the interaction to where they are in the process

That way you don’t come off as too aggressive to an unsure contact and you don’t oversell to someone ready to make a purchase. 

One way to evaluate your customer is through lead scoring with a service like Breadcrumbs. Services like this help you know where a potential customer falls on the spectrum of “ready to buy” to “not interested.” 

That way your sales team can know how to approach the customer for the best experience.

Whether that’s a gentle nudge to make the purchase, answering questions to close the deal, or offering an incentive to get them over an obstacle holding them back.

The way you first interact with your customer is a critical component of their experience. If you want to improve your ROI, it’s worth the effort to know how to approach your customers.

Managing customer relationships

Once a shopper becomes familiar with your company and your brand, it’s important to nurture and maintain a relationship with them. There are two main reasons for this crucial step in the customer experience.

First, a customer might need time before making a large purchase. It would be unwise to expect them to simply log into a website and spend thousands, or even millions, of dollars.

Take real estate as an example. Purchasing a home is an enormous step in a person’s life. You wouldn’t expect them to make it on a whim.

That is why real estate agents usually spend a significant amount of time with buyers before they feel comfortable making an offer.

Without a high-quality customer experience, the agent won’t develop the trust required for buyers to feel ready to leap.

After a sale, it’s equally important to maintain that relationship. It is through these existing relationships that customers begin marketing for you.

They tell their friends, family, and coworkers about what a great job you did or how amazing your product is. They may even become repeat customers themselves. 

Managing and maintaining a relationship with your customers is easier when you use a customer relationship management (CRM) tool. There are several products available to provide a wide variety of services.

For example, this Real Estate CRM tool features a high-powered query engine, customizable workflows, and the ability to fully automate several tasks.

There are similar products available for almost any industry. They each have features that allow you to keep track of your contact plan

Managing customer relationships

In your evaluation of the customer experience, consider how often your name crosses their mind. More importantly, consider how likely your name will cross their mind when they need the product or service you provide.

Or, how likely it is that it is your name that comes up when a friend asks for a recommendation. Just be careful not to get too aggressive with your CRM strategy. 

Delivering on your promises

Making a purchase is not the end of the customer experience. You still have to deliver. That is a figurative and a literal comment.

The figurative part is all about quality. Customers develop an expectation of quality based on the promises you make during the marketing and relationship-building processes — Combined with the price they pay.

It is vital to the customer experience that the buyer is satisfied with your product or service.  

But, you must also literally deliver your product to your customer. Customers typically understand that there may be a delay between buying a product online and receiving it.

But, the longer that delay becomes, the more it erodes the buyer’s satisfaction with the process.

Reducing that delay is key to getting good reviews and positive word-of-mouth advertising. One step is to ensure availability through inventory management.

A customer that must wait for months due to manufacturing problems is not going to be too happy. That is why you must implement preventive measures to safeguard your supply chain, from manufacturing, to warehouse security and delivery

Being prepared for orders, especially during the holiday season, is a must. Therefore, your business relationship with your suppliers directly impacts your customer’s experience with you.

If you do have the inventory ready to ship, you need a reliable way to get it to the buyer. While traditional delivery options are a good bet, consider looking into alternatives that can yield better results.

For instance, you may be able to provide same-day delivery by forming a partnership with a courier in your area.

Imagine how happy your customer would be if you could reduce the delivery time to around what it would take them to get in the car and shop at a big box store.

Digital product delivery

The concept of delivery is easy to understand in the physical product space. But, as digital services expand in the marketplace, the idea of delivery is evolving.

For example, think about all of those businesses that provide advice about stock market investing. The customer isn’t buying a tangible product when they subscribe to stock trading journal.

Instead, they are paying for the insights and ideas that those financial experts provide. And, there is a very clear caveat that the advice they give might result in serious losses (although hopefully more gains than losses).

Digital product delivery

A good consumer experience in services such as these requires building trust and expertise. The consumer’s sensations and perceptions prevail. If you offer any online service, you must deliver quality and timely content to your customers.

It only takes one bad experience or one missed newsletter to erode the trust required for them to follow and promote your platform.

Supporting your customers

The end of the journey in the customer experience is how a business handles problems. There is no such thing as a business that doesn’t run into unforeseen issues. It might be a technical glitch on your website.

Supporting your customers

Perhaps a shopper isn’t quite sure about your product based on the product description. Maybe there are problems with the quality, size, or delivery of the items. Or, maybe you did everything perfectly, but the customer is still not happy.

How you handle these customer concerns, complaints, and questions will define how the customer feels about the experience as a whole. Good quality customer support goes a long way toward improving your ROI.

One study found that 84% of customers consider customer service to be an important attribute in deciding whether to do business with a company.

Therefore, a positive customer experience starts with hiring customer support specialists. These professionals can protect your brand from a bad customer experience leading to negative reviews.

Through their soft skills, a quality customer support staff adds that personal touch and leaves them feeling good about the customer experience. Additionally, giving your staff the right tools for the job can go a long way.

For instance, many routine problems can be quickly and easily addressed by remote support software, such as TSPlus.

If you are looking for a way to increase your ROI through an exceptional customer experience, consider investing in resources that make the job easier for the people in direct contact with the customer.

Reviewing customer reviews

In the introduction to this post, there was a comment about you are probably already looking over customer reviews. That really is an important step in evaluating the customer experience.

These customers are taking the time to give you valuable feedback — For free. The same is true for customer complaints. If you want to really improve your ROI, look closely at this feedback

Try to understand the situation that created the undesired situation. More, look for ways to correct your business processes so that it doesn’t happen again. 

Summary

The customer experience begins before you meet the customer and ends well past the sale. Consider the amount of time and money it takes to acquire a customer.

For many businesses, customer acquisition costs cut deeply into the bottom line. Getting a better return on those investments requires careful attention to the complete customer experience

It includes making sure that your messaging is consistent with your image across all platforms. It requires a deep understanding of how your customers want to be treated. And, it requires exceptional customer service. 

If you can deliver a superior product and a competitive price, that’s the first step. But, managing the customer relationship is how to get more out of your efforts. The customer acquisition cost of a return customer is a fraction of the initial effort.

Even better, when people enjoy superior customer service, they become an ambassador for your brand

They post about it on social media and share their story with their friends. That’s like getting compound interest on your money. There aren’t many ways to get a better ROI than that. 

About the author 

Peter Keszegh

Most people write this part in the third person but I won't. You're at the right place if you want to start or grow your online business. When I'm not busy scaling up my own or other people' businesses, you'll find me trying out new things and discovering new places. Connect with me on Facebook, just let me know how I can help.

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