Customer experience is as important as marketing

Are your customers telling you what they think of your business? Credit: Thomas Lefebvre at Unsplash

Why customer experience matters as much as marketing.

Earlier this year Steve Cannon, president and chief executive of Mercedes-Benz, moved the marketing goalposts for everyone in the auto industry.

“Customer experience is the new marketing,” he said. “It’s the most important thing we do. We have the most demanding customers on the planet. Customer experience better be at the top of your list when it comes to priorities in your organization.”

Intuitively, you probably already know your customers want to be treated well. But you may not have considered they are now more vocal than ever. Smart businesses need to treat customer experience as a core responsibility if they want continued success in a world of Twitter and online review sites.

Word of mouth matters

Cannon knows that not only do people tell their friends and family about a bad experience, they can also tell the whole internet. In fact, according to a Google Loyalty and Trust survey  of the US tire industry, between 2014 and 2015 customers became 17 percent more likely to post a review of a business online. This year 81 percent of customers reported they would tell family and friends about a business. So giving existing customers a good experience may lead to more new customers. Give them a bad experience and you may lose many, many more potential visits.

There is actually good software available for the tire industry that will monitor online reviews and notify dealers as soon as a review is posted online, allowing you to share it and respond. It’s called TirewebLocal.

What keeps customers coming back?

Getting customers coming back time and time again requires more than convenience and price. It requires great customer service. That’s what builds loyalty. According to the Google survey taken in March, a positive past experience will bring a customer back in 63 percent of cases. In 31 percent of cases a referral from family and friends will bring them through your door. Add to that the friendliness of staff being important to 42 percent of cases and it’s clear that what you do is not necessarily as important as how you do it.

How to improve customer experience

If you want to make sure your customers walk away from your business feeling happy, you have to know what they expect walking in. Find out what your customers want by asking them questions and making sure you understand their needs. Train your staff to make the customer’s experience their top priority and lead by example.

Do your technicians leave your customers’ cars clean every time? What about a thank you note on the driver’s seat? Another great way to improve your client’s experience is to say thank you and give them a discount on their next visit. And get personal — save their preferences on your system or send them a birthday card with a discount. Do some research and arm yourself with the right information.

Get customers to “pass it on”

Happy customers are your best advertisement. People trust the recommendations of their family and friends, so make sure you encourage your happy customers to share their experiences on online review sites. Provide an avenue for them to do so via social media or your website and make sure they know how to find it. Let them know you take their reviews seriously. Make it easy and fun for them and you’ll reap rewards.

Deal with customer concerns

The more reviews you get, the more likely you are to get some bad ones. A negative experience spreads faster and further than a positive one, so you need to respond quickly and courteously. Try not to take it personally or respond defensively. Listen to the complaint and reach out to the customer directly to address it. Taking some steps to make a customer feel you have taken their concerns seriously could make all the difference.

Reap the rewards

Positive feedback can lead to more positive feedback, so make sure you display your testimonials proudly. A few little things can make a big difference for your customer’s experience and will definitely be worth it. Be innovative.

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