A customer comes into your store and they always leave with a something: a product, a service and always a story. Stories are told everyday–from tales about traffic, lunch or the experience in your store. Look around. What story will your customers tell about you?
The stories shared about your business is based on the customer service and the customer experience you provide. There is a difference between the two. The interactions had between your customers and your employees (friendly, helpful, responsive) are characterized as customer service. Delivering books to a dorm room earlier than expected is the “customer experience.”
Today the customer focus is two-pronged: gaining new customers and retaining existing ones. Based on a Customer Management survey, 75% of executives rated enhancing their customer experience a five (highest level of importance). However, while the need is a focus, the number of companies with high customer experience ratings has dropped.
What does your customer experience say about you? What stories are being told? How will you increase your number of customers? Today customers expect to have more information in less time and enjoy a personal experience. Students have more choices for course materials, more stores to choose from, more online resources and, in some cases, even forego the purchase all together. Everything your business does is critiqued.
Many customer experience initiatives fail because they have no value to the customer. The story about delivering textbooks to a dorm room ahead of the scheduled time builds value in the relationship the customer has with the bookstore. They may ask themselves, “Would this happen with the store up the street?” Designing a plan around the entire customer purchasing process, from the time they walk in, to the moment they have their course materials in hand, will help you keep your customers and pull more from the competition.
Here’s a short story about how this could work for you:
Student Jim walks into your store and is greeted by staff member Shirley soon after walking in. Shirley smiles and asks how she can help. Jim tells her about the books he needs for the upcoming term and how he does not have a lot of time to collect books from shelves and stand in line. Shirley acknowledges Jim’s pain and tells him about a new textbook delivery service, assuring him his books will be delivered to his room by 10 p.m. the same day. The plan fits Jim’s needs and he buys in. The bookstore gathers course materials and has them to the Jim’s dorm room by 6 p.m. the same day. As a business you over delivered. Jim is thrilled and shares images of the books on their doorstep on social media tagging you as the hero.
While this is just an example, it’s important to note how the customer experience and customer service work together leading to a positive outcome, setting you up for long-term success. Jim found value in the relationship with his bookstore. Not wanting to carry books across campus from after purchasing from another store, or having to wait a few days to receive books from a website, enables you to grow your customer base and further delight the ones you have. Keep your customer service alive; add the customer experience to your quiver.