by Rakhee Ghelani | Featured Contributor
Each business has its own personality, one that has no doubt been carefully built through branding and marketing. What is easy to forget though, is that your customers don’t just see your branded personality every time they come into contact with you, they see whatever face you are showing them at the time. It may sound simple, but many companies show their customers multiple personalities.
I worked for a bank for many years and in advertising customers always saw a smile and helping hand, but when it came to actually signing off on a mortgage all they saw was a wad of legal paperwork threatening them about what would happen if they didn’t repay their loan. The branding and the implementation were incongruous which creates confusion and an inconsistent customer experience.
Consistency breeds familiarity, and with familiarity comes repeat business. Think about McDonald’s for example, their customer communications is very standardized. No it’s not personal, but it suits their corporate image and strategy. You return because you know exactly what you are going to get with them. Would you like fries with that?
So consistency in customer experience is all about gaining your customer’s trust. Great, so how do you create consistency?
Know All Your Touch-points
The first step to building a consistent customer experience is to be aware of all the different places that your customer finds you. In this day and age, most businesses have a myriad of customer touch-points. They might first come across you through a Tweet your business posted, then research is done on your website and an email inquiry is sent through. The response by email then leads to a phone call or visit to your shop-front. The touch-points continue after the sale is closed, from delivery to maintenance and complaints.
Whilst you may delineate each of these into different departments or tasks, your customer does not. To them each time they see your business or hear from you they see it all as just being your business. Just being aware of this is the first step in making your customer experience more consistent.
One Communication Strategy
In some companies, the website is written by one person, advertisements by another, someone else manages social media and another answers the phones. Each one does their job in their own style, and communicates with your customer differently. Creating one communication strategy across all channels is crucial, as it means that your customer sees the same corporate personality everywhere they look.
The first step is in defining and communicating your strategy to staff, training them in how to communicate and ensuring that all understand that each contact with a customer is important. Is your business tone formal or casual? Should staff wear suits or jeans? Are emoticons acceptable in emails?
Sometimes in a small business this can be hard to achieve but little things, like making sure the wording on your website matches your new marketing campaign, Facebook page and sales pitch, do go a long way to build trust, acquire and retain customers.
One Customer View
For your team, the best way for them to ensure a customer is treated consistently is by ensuring that they all have access to the same information about the customer. If the person responding to a complaint on Twitter has the same information as a person speaking to your customer in-store, then they can respond in the same way. Maintaining a database with one customer view is not always easy, but it is possible to put processes in place to ensure that staff reactions are consistent. This also helps prevent customers from taking advantages of any weaknesses in your business, for example channel shopping to negotiate a better price.
Manage and Develop Your Staff
When you are busy just keeping your business afloat, taking time to manage and develop staff can seem like a luxury. Whilst it can be time consuming, investing in your staff can be the best decision you make and your customers will also thank you for it.
Development can include coaching staff so that their communications with customers are consistent. It can also improve their skills so that they can eventually share the load with others (or yourself). For example teaching your administrative staff how to manage a social media account, means that they can multi-task and will no doubt also feel quite proud for having learned a valuable new skill.
But you don’t need to send employees on a formal course to train them. Just having a team coffee together once a week to learn from each other can be both rewarding, educational and a great way to build team rapport, helping in creating that consistent communication strategy.
While there is no one silver bullet to creating a sensational customer experience, showing your customer just one personality, from the CEO to the shop floor, is a great start.
Rakhee Ghelani is an Australian woman who abandoned her successful corporate career to move to India in 2011. She now works as a freelance consultant, writer and entrepreneur in Mumbai. Her extensive skill set allows her to add value to businesses in industries as varied as travel, manufacturing and publishing.
Prior to leaving Australia, Rakhee was head of Customer Experience for ANZ Bank’s Mortgages division, responsible for over 850,000 customers. Customers don’t generally “like” banks or having a mortgage, so it was a challenging but rewarding role that also sparked her interest in helping other companies wow their customers. She believes customer experience extends far beyond how you speak to a customer in a retail store or on the phone, it is about understanding what they want and need, and getting it right every time.
Rakhee is also a travel writer and photographer, and a co-founder of Gourmet Pop-Up shop in Mumbai called Potluck Me. She has a few other entrepreneurial efforts in the pipeline and is currently writing her autobiography. An extensive traveler, you can follow Rakhee’s adventures across India and the world here: