Customer experience has become a hot term in the retail world. There are many folks out there making a very good living helping businesses improve their overall customer experience for their customers.
With all of this, there are many who still confuse customer experience with customer service. In reality, customer service is just one part of the actual customer experience. There are 6 elements to creating a great customer experience.
6) Customer Service
When we create a great customer experience for our customers, we have given them great value and in many cases a good memory. All 6 elements must be on point for the customer to have a great experience.
I hate to pick on the restaurant business but it is the most convenient example to use as we all have eaten out. Take a minute to think about your best experience at a restaurant. If you have a great memory, chances are they gave you an experience. If you think a little harder I would bet they hit on at least 5 of the 6 elements, if not all.
My best restaurant memory was a little seafood place in Southwest Florida. They had the perfect environment and a huge menu. It was a bit expensive but the quality of food was beyond compare. It was easy to get to and was in a beautiful location. The wait staff was on point the whole time and I remember feeling like they were part of our group by the end of the night.
That experience happened over 10 years ago and it still stands out in my mind. What are you doing to create this kind of memory for your customers? We like to refer to our guests as patients, but they are customers in the end.
Your customers have more options now than ever. Online continues to grow acceptance. Big outlets seem to be popping up on every corner. Through their marketing and advertising, these competitors seem to be offering your customer base a low-cost alternative. This is a very real threat to your business.
Most studies show that consumers are looking for value over a cheap price. By creating a strong customer experience for your patients you are adding value. What could you be doing with your office to give your customers a better experience? Let’s go ahead and breakdown the 6 parts of customer experience with some ideas of what your customers are looking for.
Environment – Your customer is not looking for Disney World when they step into your door. They are looking for an organized, clean place to do business. It is hard to sell high-end designer products when your office looks like a Dollar General. What minor, inexpensive upgrades can you do to bring your office up to date? Do you have current demos and display showing the benefits of add-ons like Transitions Gen 8 or Crizal no-glare coatings? Give your customer a better environment to do business with you. One area that is often overlooked is your windows and front door. My first job in retail optical I worked for a Master Optician at a very successful shop in an upscale downtown office. He taught me the saying - “if there is time to lean there is time to clean” and we lived it. You are more than welcome to use this in your office.
Choice – Are you giving your customers enough options? This is important in both frames and lenses. Today’s consumers are looking for options. Make sure you have products and offerings that cover all bases. Be careful not to bring in too much frame inventory. That is just money sitting in drawers. As an alternative, be willing to show catalogs and order frames for patients. Just build the extra shipping charges into your pricing.
Cost – Do you have options to compete with your competition? I believe there are two types of fools in our business; there are those who will only sell ultra-high-end progressives and those who will sell only value. While your customer base will dictate where you should be spending most of your effort, you will always have the outliers. Have products ready to cover all of your patient’s budgetary needs. A smaller sale with a bit less profit margin is better than no sale at all. If you are a value optical make sure you are listening to your patients' needs. They often will be asking for more and willing to pay for it. Do not miss opportunities to make a sale!
Quality – There is not a larger factor in the value proposition than quality. Quality is more than just lenses. Often value frames are so cheaply made that quality will suffer. Your service levels can affect the overall quality of the sale. Focus on putting out quality lenses in high-quality frames being sold by quality people for a great price.
Accessibility – This one can seem tough as first thought might be the location of your office, but it goes well beyond this. While you probably will not be able to get up and move your office to a better location, but I bet there are a few things you could do to make your office more accessible. Is your parking lot clean and well organized? Do you have adequate signage leading your customer to your front door? Once inside, is there someone to greet them and get them going in the right direction? Do you provide customer connectedness? Is your store listed on Google and other popular apps for patients to easily find you when they search online? Most important – keep in mind the safety of your patients. Make sure they are safe while entering your office and during their entire visit.
Customer Service – This is one area where most small businesses think they have big-box and online retailers beat, but I would argue that this is often not the case. Big-box offers some of the best CS training available to their staff members. They offer a smaller selection of products and their staff members are well trained on these products. Online has done a good job with the chat options and many have trained their staff well too.
Are you paying attention to how you and your staff are treating your customers? Are you utilizing online training courses and resources to keep your staff trained on the products you carry? Sometimes it is the little things like a callback to the customer checking on their experience that make this biggest difference. Your patient will not only appreciate this extra service but will often tell you the good and bad of their experience. Do not hide from the bad, take this info and grow from it.
Customer service is not being the smartest, it is not having answers to every question, it is much more. At its best, it is simple kindness and courtesy. It is showing your customer some love and appreciation.
Take a few minutes to give you, your staff, and your business a review. Put yourself in your customer’s place. What type of actual customer experience are you giving them?