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According to the results of a fast internet search, the Customer Experience (CX) concentrates on the customer relationship and thus the experience between a company and its customers. Every single interaction counts, regardless of how brief – and even if it does not culminate in a purchase. *
Every interaction, every point of contact produces certain perceptions and feelings in customers. This influences the customer experience. We have all had – good and some less good – experiences with customer service. Each encounter has an impact and gradually forms a relationship with a company and influences it over time. Companies must generally always walk a fine line between customer expectations and their own resources, both personnel and financial.
We used to call this “customer service”. These days “Customer Experience Excellence” sounds much cooler and more modern. But regardless of what we call it, it should not be allowed to be ignored or it will get away from us. If the sum of a customer experience is negative, things will get difficult for the company in question. The customer will either be lost because of it, or the company will not acquire any new customers at all. In next to no time, unhappy customers defect to a competing station.
However, it is work making major investments in exceptional – specifically consistently excellent – customer experiences. We have seen this in many companies in a wide variety of industries that have been very successful for many years with this strategy. I’m thinking in this case e.g., of brands such as Singapore Airlines, AIDA Cruises, and SAP. Their secret is the emotional attachment of their customers. They consider themselves taken seriously and appreciated at all times owing to the best service! In the B2B segment, what goes on in direct dialog is especially important. Is customer service is perceived as competent and can it even be reached via the desired communications channel? If not, the customer will be annoyed and the relationship book will fill up with black marks.
However high-quality products and services may be, however attractive products may be priced: if the customer experience doesn’t match, sales will drop, at least in the medium term. First-class, top-notch customer service, however, is a definite competitive advantage.
The most common reasons for negative customer experiences:
- Lack of appreciation
- Long wait times on calls
- Impolite and incompetent employees
- No solutions to the problems presented
- Too many different case managers
- Failure to forward case to the right contact person²
What points of contact with your company and advertisers or agencies are there generally in audio marketing? Is it guaranteed that your customers are being the best possible sales experience during every single phase of the buying journey – from the receiving of marketing material to the actual sales process to customer service after conclusion of the sale? You should always keep an eye on the following points of contact of your advertisers and consider ways of improving them.
- Social Media
- Search results on the web
- Visits to station and/or marketing websites
- Contact via email or chatbot, letter
- Visit to broadcasting studios: Are directions provided? Parking spaces? Directory? Welcome screen at reception? Cloakroom? Seating in the reception area or waiting room? Selection of beverages? Writing materials? WiFi/WLAN code in conference room for guests?
- Trade fairs, network events, radio station events
- Sales material
- Offers, confirmation of orders, invoices
- Greeting cards, welcome letters, thank you letters
- Agenda of meetings with advertisers and agencies, also with other departments at own company
- Video conferences
- Representative visits
- Customer events
- … specific points of contact with your company
Taking the example of the contact points “visit to the broadcasting studios” (see above) or “calls”, it is apparent how many opportunities there are for providing poor, average or even excellent customer service.
- Phone call
Where is the number communicated? Is it toll-free?
What are the hours?
How competent and friendly are staff that take calls?
Is the switchboard/reception always kept up-to-date about all staff in office and absent, responsibilities and availability?
Are landline numbers transferred to colleagues or mobile phones when the persons called are absent?
Is there an answering machine?
Who is responsible for listening to the answering machine and responding?
Is there an internal commitment to call-back periods?
Is there a concept that prevents transferring callers multiple times?
Is the program of the radio station played when callers are on hold?
These supposedly minor details may cause customers not to feel appreciated. Years ago, we at the station were once visited by the marketing department of a regional mineral water vendor. The participants were all on time, the welcome at reception was friendly, and the conference room was inviting and prepared with snacks, beverages, pen and paper. As soon as the first glass was poured for the guests, it was obvious that the meeting would get off on the wrong foot: our standard delivery from our beverage supplier at the station included a brand of mineral water from their competition and that was what was on the table that day.
If we had taken the trouble to send someone down the street to the next best supermarket to buy our guests’ brand, it would have been seen as a positive gesture.
And there are other traps that can easily arise in the following cases:
- Customer questions related to bookkeeping
- Press releases from advertisers
- Spot productions from other service providers
- Emergencies outside of the hours nine to five, e.g., on weekends
Creating a visual map of the typical buying journey of your customers can help ensure that no point of contact is overlooked, possible trouble spots are revealed, and you can then collect ideas for our unmistakable customer service offering.
Criteria for your Customer Experience should be:
- Rate of response
- Response competence
- Customer orientation
Together with your team, put down your expectations of your own service in writing and the experiences potential and existing customers should ideally have with your company. They should be realistic and within your budget.
It is impossible for all points of contact to always exceed possible expectations. But obvious gaps and errors need to be eliminated. If you succeed in implementing new service ideas in one or two places or in offering customers an exceptional or new, positive experience, you improve your competitive advantage. An analysis of your competitors and a customer survey can help on the way to this goal.
To me, the current buzzword Customer Experience Excellence is neither a revolutionary development in Marketing/Sales nor “old hat”. An excellent customer experience has always been a key component to corporate success and will remain so! If something has changed then it is at best the higher expectations of customers. It is definitely worth focusing on this topic.
*Google search result (in German) for “customer experience excellence definition”: ((own translation))
Yours, Andrea Anders
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