Customer experience is the crux of good customer service – once you understand the experience you want your customer to have, you can tailor your service strategies to deliver this.
Sydney-based online fashion directory Archfashion.com.au is a relatively new business but the two guys behind it – David Butcher and Allen Zelden – know its success depends solely on customer experience.
The business has two types of customers – each in search of a difference experience. The first is business to business: the brands, stores, PR agencies and media (B2B). The second, business to consumer – site users. While both demographics can be broad, the guys focus on usability to ensure no matter who uses the site they have a great experience and can easily find what they’re after.
From good to great
So, what’s the difference between a good customer experience and a great one?
Good, says Butcher, is as simple as doing what you say you will do. This – in other circles – might also be coined commitment.
“If you say you will call on Tuesday, call on Tuesday,” says Butcher. “People are so used to bad service these days that this will always set you apart.”
This is basic customer service. For example, an ArchFashion.com.au user may discover their site while researching a particular product online, find what they are looking for, along with their nearest location to purchase, and then purchase in-store. Simple, yes?
Great, he adds, is going beyond the above and achieving a personal interaction with your customer.
"The user then signs up to our newsletter, likes the page through Facebook or forwards it to a friend.”
This creates a relationship and ups the stickiness of the user, as they set up channels for return visits of their own accord.
Customer feedback – a great barometer of customer experience – is key in ensuring the business not only survives, but thrives. Zelden says customer feedback is “absolutely paramount!”
“Our business fundamentals are completely based around customer feedback – we regularly speak to a full cross section of our users and customers. We are not just a service for the fashion and tech-savvy consumer – we are an exclusive service for any and every person who researches online to find what to wear and where to get it. The feedback was in line with the demand and we worked hard to ensure that customers can simply connect the dots.”
According to the guys at ArchFashion.com.au, the secret to make the most of this is five-fold:
1. Know the question before you ask it.
“Who cares if nine out of 10 people prefer red apples to green, if they really want bananas?” says Butcher.
2. Don’t be rigid in your communications.
“We don’t spend a heap of money forming surveys or market research,” says Zelden. “We call and email our customers, ask them questions about how they do business so we can find the best ways to help.”
3. Accept feedback from every source.
“Feedback happens when you least expect it,” says Butcher. “There is no such thing as a throw away comment.”
4. Take note of the little things.
And use this information to prioritise what is most effective in reaching the goals of all stakeholders.
“No one is right all the time,” says Butcher. “Not our staff, not our customers and especially not us!”
Improving the experience
Kaizen, the Japanese drive for continual improvement, underscores any good customer service strategy. Training, development and discussion – “Asking staff and customers what they would change, what they have seen other people do well and what frustrates them about our business”, explains Butcher – are all valuable tools to ensure you’re on the money.
“We work to ensure that the basic principles underscoring the user experience are the same,” says Zelden. “From time to time, we adapt tweaks based upon demand and regular consultation with our users and customers – this is to make sure their experience is easier and more efficient while ensuring consistency.
“We don’t control it, we monitor their experience and adapt accordingly,” says Butcher. “We built a simple platform 12 months ago that focused entirely on designer brands and evolved organically, based solely around our customer’s demands and user experiences to maximise interaction.”
Traps for young players
And there are traps for young players when it comes to creating the perfect customer experience – the cardinal sin when it comes to customer experience, says Butcher, is not respecting every complaint.
“If a customer has the time to complain, we find the time to listen. This doesn’t necessarily change the outcome, but provides us with valuable feedback and reflects positively on our business.
Important information: This content has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular individual. It does not constitute formal advice. For this reason, any individual should, before acting, consider the appropriateness of the information, having regard to the individual’s objectives, financial situation and needs and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.