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When people hear that I’m an operations expert and business manager, they think I’m focused solely on the back-end of a business. The tech, the timelines, the numbers, the cogs that keep everything moving. That’s true to an extent, but it also doesn’t encompass the most important part of my job: ensuring a seamless customer experience.
What is “customer experience”… really?
Customer experience isn’t just about customer service; it’s about how your customer feels at any touchpoint with your brand. From your social media to your website, to direct communications or receiving your services or products, customer experience goes from top to bottom, inside and out.
A great customer experience is needed for more than just an engaging discovery call or the cute box people get when they buy your product. It should influence how you plan, execute, and market your latest offers or products, and how you show up online.
It should also advise the systems and tools that you use to make the process as smooth as possible. (This is why I love things—warning: affiliate links ahead!—like Zapier, HoneyBook*, and ActiveCampaign*, because they help automate a new purchase or client onboarding to the point where the person on the other end doesn’t have to lift a finger.)
Everything you do within your business should be thought of in terms of the customer. As my favorite Lean Six Sigma resource book says: “Even the smallest project must take the time to ensure it is customer-focused. On a practical level, this involves talking to and becoming a customer in order to understand their needs.”
How customer experience affects the bottom line in your business
In case you’re unfamiliar with Lean Six Sigma, it’s a process improvement methodology popular in manufacturing spaces. It focuses on cutting down on waste within a business and reducing variation. Essentially, it’s all about striving for perfection in your production. Of course, “perfection” is a constantly moving target, so let’s define perfection this way:
Lean Six Sigma helps you reduce defects in your products or services, and helps you develop and deliver products and services that your customers actually want and can’t stop talking about.
By focusing on the customer first, and understanding the most efficient way to serve them, you can get to the root of what’s most important and help every customer or client in the same memorable way. I’ll explain more about how this stronger focus on the customer benefits YOU in the long run in a bit, but let’s talk about how to get started with a stronger customer experience first.
Two tools to create a stronger customer experience
I’ll be honest: your customer experience efforts shouldn’t begin and end with the sale. This is a mistake I’ve seen many online business owners make… leading an audience to purchase a product and then leaving them high and dry after they complete the checkout (or worse, when they don’t!)
Don’t ignore all of the other touchpoints with your brand and pour all of your best content or presence into one transaction or platform. You want to make sure you systematize every customer touchpoint in the most efficient way.
That’s why I always recommend starting with a Voice of Customer survey and a deep-dive into your analytics.
Understand the voice of your customer
An easy way to start gathering your Voice of the Customer is to send a survey to your existing customers. Find out, in their own words, why they need you, how you can support them, and what their non-negotiables are when it comes to the products or services they buy.
A few of the things you can learn from this exercise include:
- Finding trouble spots in your business, i.e. customers using different phrasing for your industry or services, or realizing that they really want email communication with you.
- Evaluating new product ideas, by asking questions like, “What do you think about this idea I have about ___?” You can ask them what their must-haves are, what they need to see or want to see.
- Discovering new ways of finding future customers, by asking “How did you hear about me?”
How does this connect back to Lean Six Sigma? Well, if you know what your customers need and want, and even understand the language they use, won’t you be able to create offers that actually sell? Wouldn’t that enable you to market with less waste on ad spend or copywriting? Yes and yes.
Analyze your analytics
Check out your Google Analytics or other website dashboards to see how people are going through your website. Look at where your traffic comes from; is it from social media? From an opt-in you promote? A podcast you’ve recently been a guest on?
Look at your #1 lead generator for new business or your email subscriber entry point. That tells you where your customers prefer to learn from and about you, and allows you to create more content or share more on those platforms. By catering to their preferred mediums in this way, you’re reducing waste (you’re not posting on Instagram every day if you know that Instagram hasn’t brought you a single site visit) and sharing content that offers your audience what they want and need.
A stronger customer experience = a stronger business
It might feel like customer experience is “one more thing” you need to be aware of while juggling your to-do’s and big ideas. But the reality is: customer experience can make or break your business. Why? Because happy customers are loyal customers.
When you create an experience that feels tailor-made for your customers or clients, they’ll feel valued, respected, and much more likely to refer you or your business.
A positive customer experience also builds trust, and increases the odds that someone new will buy from you. Just think: How many times have you signed up for someone’s free resource, only to be sold to immediately — or worse yet, not even get the content you signed up for? That’s just a small example of how a stronger customer experience (and good operations management) can help you build better relationships (because relationships lead to the sale).
Clients who feel valued and who get what they want also spend more over their working relationship with you, providing more consistent revenue and less need to search for new buyers. All of this builds on itself, creating a business that is a referral machine that delivers exactly what you promise.
Customer experience is one of your business’s strategic pillars. Don’t overlook it!
If you want to build a business that is sustainable and successful, you can’t overlook things like customer experience. It’s so important that it’s actually one of the 6 Strategic Pillars for Success I talk about a lot.
If you feel like customer experience is somewhere you need support, or you have challenges with reach or product development, you can dig deeper into these pillars with my Stop Shiny Object Syndrome workbook.
It will help you get clear on which strategic pillars need your attention now, and also help you decide which projects and tasks you need to help you establish a stronger business foundation. No more chasing shiny objects (or overlooking important things like customer experience).