Paying careful attention to your customer service should be at the forefront of every business owner’s mind. But why?
We chatted to Alex Alexandrou, GM of Reckon, to see why he thinks the customer experience is the top priority for any business, regardless of size.
How and when did you first become interested in customer experience?
“I became interested in the unique value of customer experience through my own personal dealings with businesses of all shapes and sizes.
I became very conscious of how easily my opinion of a business would change, alongside my willingness to purchase their goods or services, with a single occurrence of bad customer service.
A bad experience really does stick in the mind more prominently than a great experience.”
Why is customer satisfaction of such high importance for small businesses?
“In my experience, customer service and experience tops the list of the most important duties of a business.
If the nature of your customer’s experience is negative, then all the time, money, and effort you expended leading to that point do not matter.
You may have a great sales funnel, a superior product, a great price point and a top of class marketing campaign. All of that work crumbles and becomes unimportant with a single negative customer experience.
That customer is now gone forever.
As I say to my own customer experience team, ‘one negative phone call could derail the entire effort of gaining that customer’.”
What happens if you neglect customer service?
“The answer to that question is extremely simple – your business will suffer.
Your bottom line will drop, your marketing will become an uphill battle against negative customer sentiment and disparaging word of mouth.
If a customer has a disappointing experience with your business, they’re highly likely to share that with their social network – leading to a negative reputation and even less chance of picking up new customers.
Add to this the ease of which negative sentiment can now be shared on the internet and social media and you could have a rather grim business scenario on your hands.”
How would you advise a small business to easily increase their customer retention?
“I’d suggest start tracking it. If you’re losing customers, then understand why and make the changes you need for improvement.
Tracking customer satisfaction shouldn’t be difficult for any business, and it should be a key metric.
It’s through this customer data that you can also identify the areas you can improve on, as well as leverage off and set your business apart from your competitors.”
Are there any tools or procedures you would recommend to track customer experience?
“The key procedure is simply to ask them!
The mechanics of this will depend on the size of your business and what kind of service you offer. For example, a face-to-face business will differ from an ecommerce store in how you can go about asking your customers questions. However, the core sentiment is the same – ask!
It’s hard to overstate how many customers will simply walk away from your business without saying a word, leaving you with no idea why they left.
Combat this by using tools such as email or social media surveys, online satisfaction meters, asking for reviews, or making it a habit to ask face-to-face customers how you can improve.
Just make sure that when you gather such data, you action it to improve your customer experience, capitalising on your effort.”
What have you found is the relationship between customer satisfaction, retention, and profits?
“Customer acquisition cost is a great metric for any business to understand. This is your total cost to bring on a new customer. If you calculate it properly, it’s often far higher than you might expect. The aim is to capitalise on that customer acquisition investment.
In any business the cost of customer acquisition is always much higher than the cost of keeping an existing customer.
This means that once onboard, it’s your job to keep them by creating a positive experience and ensuring that the customer wants to return – boosting customer loyalty and future cash flow.
Even more important is the knock-on effect this great customer experience has on your customer base and cash flow. Think about it like this – if you delight one customer, they’ll share that experience with their network of friends and family, granting you new business on top of repeat business.
You need to really concentrate on building loyalty.”
Has the COVID-19 pandemic changed your approach to delivering or managing customer experience?
“From Reckon’s experience, it was about ensuring that customer satisfaction remained a priority during the pandemic. This meant providing quick and efficient service with a human touch. This was given even more importance than usual during the height of the pandemic, as we know that businesses were really struggling.
Empowering our team at Reckon is also key to delivering great service, this meant providing the right technology to them so that they could continue to provide great service while working from home during lock down.”
Alex Alexandrou is the GM of Reckon. You can follow him here on Linkedin.