The simplest way to improve your customer experience
Alex Malouf
10x Industry

The simplest way to improve your customer experience

Improving how your customers perceive you and your products doesn't require money. What you do need to give them is your time and attention, says Guest contributor, Alex Malouf, in this special op-ed for SME10x and UPS.

Customer experience – it’s the holy grail of any business to achieve a good customer experience. For a consumer, what that basically means is the product or service has to exceed my expectations. If you’ve done that, more likely than not you’ll have me as a repeat customer. Even better, I may end up becoming an advocate for you and your brand. And that’s what all businesses should be aiming for.

However, the very idea of customer experience has developed a certain mystique. Do you have a CX team? Are you investing in technology? And are you engaging with customers on every step of their journey with your product?

I’m going to try and demystify customer experience. And let’s start here. The simplest and most effective way to improve how you engage with customers is to listen to them. However, for all of the means we have at our disposal to reach out and communicate – especially online and with social media – I often find that organizations don’t listen enough to their customers. And its frustrating. As a customer, I may want to reach out to you for a host of issues – be it inputs on the product or experience, a compliant about expectations which haven’t been met, or even to say thank you (we still do that!).

Part of the reason why we’ve gotten so bad at listening as organizations because we don’t engage enough with anyone outside our offices. The focus is too often internal.

So how can we address this? Let’s look at two simple ways of listening to your customers, thanks to research from the International Association of Business Communicators.

Passive Listening

This is a no-brainer. Use annual surveys, random or targeted telephone calls, or online opinion tracking tools (many of which are freeware). Passive listening will help you uncover insights into the external environment by exploring what both your customers and your employees people know about the views (your own employees will be a wealth of knowledge into your customers). Passive listening will give you a view into trends, and recognize parts of your business that are working well and can be improved.

Active Listening

If you’re serious about improving the customer experience, you’ve got to put in a regular process for talking with your customers – be it face-to-face, via the phone, by polls, and via social media. Active listening is all about focusing on iterative improvements, based on previous feedback, much like a “you said, we did” cycle. Active listening should be built around response and action. Effective listening makes your customers part of the improvement process, and they’ll appreciate it, as long as you’re acting on their advice.

We all understand the basics of communicating as people. We listen to the person sitting opposite us, we engage and then respond. Let’s do the same as business leaders, bring our customers into the conversation, and make them feel as if their opinions matter, because they do.