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Changing your Customer Experience for a better bottom line

In the first of three articles, Susannah Hewson, owner of cxchange.ie, will introduce you to Customer Experience and share some tips on where you need to focus your efforts in order to improve your bottom line.

Customer Experience (CX) is the key differentiator and driver for business growth. It doesn’t matter how big your competitors are or how much they discount, customers will remain loyal and recommend you to others, based on the experience you give them.

Defined as ‘how the customer feels during every interaction they have with your brand’, customer experience is about building emotional connections with your customer. It’s measured against expectations – what the customer was expecting it to be like, versus what it was actually like. Expectations can be set by advertising or word of mouth, if another customer recommends you.

Customer experience is different to customer service. Customer service focuses on the functional side of things e.g. tidy store, product displayed clearly, staff being helpful, taking payment etc. Customer experience focuses on the emotional
side of things, how a customer feels when they: enter the store, find a product, pay at the till, and leave. Businesses who succeed are those who focus their efforts on both service and experience.

CX is a proven revenue driver. The impact from a customer experience focus is that customers;

  • will buy from you (sales)
  • are less likely to go elsewhere (loyalty)
  • will spend more (sales)
  • will recommend you to others (acquisition)

In a Harvard Business Review study ‘The New Science of Customer Emotion’, we learnt that ‘emotionally connected’ customers are 52% more valuable than customers who are just ‘highly satisfied’. This is exactly why brands all over the
world are investing their efforts into customer experience.

With a bricks and mortar store, you have the best opportunity to connect with your customers. This doesn’t mean you need to give them warm hugs, it means finding a way to connect that’s relevant to them. Different customers will require different experiences. If a tradesman enters your store, a great experience for them would be that you recognise their knowledge and expertise and use your own to advise them.

A person who’s not very DIY oriented would be the opposite, but might feel self-conscious about their lack of knowledge. The experience would need to adapt to this and advise them, knowing they know very little, while not making them feel
stupid.

Any business that wants to embrace CX needs to start with defining a purpose – why do we do what we do? If you want to excel at CX, your purpose should be around the customer.

Ace Hardware set their purpose and customer promise ‘to be the most helpful hardware store in the world’. They deliver on this promise and this is why Ace Hardware are leaders in their category. They go the extra mile for every customer. In fact, they refer to their customers as ‘neighbours’ because we build connections and want to help our neighbours.

There’s so much choice for customers when it comes to hardware, between physical stores, other retailers offering hardware products, and online shopping so it’s more challenging than ever for business owners. For this reason, you cannot afford not to focus on your customer’s experience.

In the next edition of The Hardware Journal, I’ll let you know exactly what matters to your customers and where you need to focus your efforts.

This Business Support article featured in the July/August edition of The Hardware Journal.

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