An experience to remember: 3 ways to avoid disappointing your customer

Today’s consumers are armed with more choices, more substitutes and more outlets to pursue alternative brands. In a world where our next purchase can be just two clicks away if we’re dissatisfied with a particular experience, providing quality service has never been more important.

We harp on about providing a strong customer experience and with good reason. A recent SDL study found just how critical consumers can be in the success of a business. The survey of almost 3000 global respondents revealed 64 per cent of consumers abandon the brand, stop recommending it or share their disappointment in the wake of a customer experience failure.

Even more alarmingly, there’s only a 20 per cent chance of winning these customers back. Australians in particular aren’t afraid to voice their vexations if they were disappointed in a customer experience failure. 37 per cent say they actively start looking for competitors and 18 per cent go out of their way to disparage the brand by word-of-mouth at every possible chance.

As customers are increasingly critical, the consequences are correspondingly significant. SDL found that brands can expect to lose 65 per cent of the revenue the failed customer contributed in the year after the incident. While a great deal of emphasis has been placed on how to create good customer experiences, it’s equally important to know how to avoid bad customer experiences.

Here are three basic ways brands can avoid causing major negative customer experiences and salvage customer relationships:

 1. Listen

Knowing your customers and listening to their wants and needs is key to avoiding a customer experience failure. SDL’s survey revealed the major disappointments for consumers are long response times, poorly trained employees and inaccurate or conflicting information which leads to a fragmented customer journey. These failures can be easily bypassed by simply listening to customers.

Who are they? What do they want? Answer these questions and you can create a tailored, targeted customer experience. Similarly, customers should be heard if a failure has already occurred. Why are they frustrated? Identify and target the root of the problem and you’re on your way to resolving it.

2. Maintain Consistency

In the digital era, technology gets all the credit. While four out of five customers see human error as the cause of the failure, most see technology as the driver of customer experience success. A positive customer experience can be created by seamlessly integrating in-person service and technology. Brands must ensure the blend of people and technologies representing them are delivering a consistent message, tone and experience.

3. Pursue a Resolution

We’re most likely to remember a negative shopping experience over a positive one.

However, even despite this, most customers are open to working on a resolution. How do businesses go about this? Firstly, take ownership and acknowledge the mistake. Next, offer an apology accompanied by a meaningful attempt to resolve the issue.

Meeting customer expectations and creating positive interactions often lead to business success. The proof is in the numbers: 72 per cent of customers say they would recommend a brand to others following a customer experience win.

Customer experience management is vital but it isn’t rocket science. The secret isn’t necessarily an extensive product range or low prices. It starts with knowing your customer, listening to them and tailoring their experience accordingly. Don’t let your brand experience be the bad date people recount with horror to their friends. Get to know your customer and be the charming, smooth operator your customers will remember and boast about.

About the author:

Kevin Ross is the Country General Manager for Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) at SDL. He has spent more than 20 years in the software industry, and been involved with customer experience in its various forms for most of that time. Kevin has held a wide range of senior leadership positions across all parts of the business, from sales & marketing to consulting and services. His role at SDL allows him to blend all of these roles to work with his team to drive great outcomes for SDL’s customers. Kevin is leading SDL to build a strong ecosystem of alliances and partners to reflect Australian demand for customer experience management.