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Great Customer Experience Begins With a Quick and Easy Smile

Customer experience is all or none, pass or fail. Successful businesses heavily invest to make sure those who stop by will come back again and again.


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James L Katzaman

2 years ago | 7 min read

Customer experience is all or none, pass or fail. Successful businesses heavily invest to make sure those who stop by will come back again and again.

“Since our service is 100 percent online, user research is key for us,” said Thibaut Lataillade, general manager at GetApp. “Simply put, if our users are not satisfied, we don’t have a product.”

GetApp was created as an online resource for businesses exploring software as a service products. Buyers compare software products side by side with GetApp’s free interactive tools and detailed product data.

Ivana Taylor became a satisfied customer as she overhauled her DIYMarketers website. With her commitment “to helping small business owners get out of overwhelm,” anything to improve customer experience backs up Taylor’s vision.

She and marketing, strategy and business consultant Iva Ignjatovic talked with Lataillade about how to improve small-business customer experience.

“I spend 80 percent of my time and money on customer experience,” Taylor said. “When I’m searching on GetApp, I’m usually in a hurry and want answers fast.”

She usually finds what she’s looking for — and more.

“Over the last few years, personalization has evolved to insane levels,” Taylor said. “It’s almost scary.”

From Lataillade’s perspective, customer experience is everything. This is why he believes “personalization should be front and center this year and beyond.”

Hook ’Em and Keep ‘Em

GetApp measures customer satisfaction via site engagement.

“The more users stay and interact with our tools, the better,” Lataillade said. “We spend a lot of time and resources improving engagement. We do a lot of research and interviews to collect user satisfaction data.

“There’s a balance to find between time on site and time to convert to the next best action,” he said.

The stakes are high, backed up by data from a Salesforce survey. In it, 52 percent of customers said they are extremely or somewhat likely to change brands if a company does not personalize its communication with them.

“When it comes to customer experience, I prefer to focus on the effects of it — not necessarily linked to the amount of time or money — rather on the quality of what I do,” Ignjatovic said.

Although good customer experience is fine, great customer experience is even better.

“A great experience is memorable and makes customers come back, while a good experience simply keeps them satisfied,” Lataillade said. “Great experience makes you a loyal customer, and even an advocate on behalf of the brand.”

A DIYMarketers post looks at how to move from offline to online lead generation, which is tied to customer experience.

“Good customer experience is getting what you expect,” Taylor said. “A great customer experience is getting exponentially more than you expected. Sometimes it’s just a friendly smile — and even being patient and authentic — instead of going through some script. That makes such a difference.”

Better With Technology

New technologies have helped with customer interactions. For example, Taylor improves reader experience by focusing on analytics and social listening tools.

“Tech can help provide a great customer experience consistently and even anticipate needs with the help of artificial intelligence,” Lataillade said. “We use AI to power our software recommendations, and it works great.

“Companies that invested in technology during the pandemic not only better managed the crisis but also set their path to success when back to business,” he said.

That doubly holds true when business owners switch their attention from data to people.

“More and more, small businesses are turning from spreadsheets to actual customer service tools,” Lataillade said. “In exchange, the tech provides consistently great experience, saves time with repetitive tasks and frees up time to go above and beyond.

“If you’re looking for software solutions to manage several communication channels in one centralized place, we’re here to help,” he said.

Backing up his efficiency claim, a Help Scout survey of satisfied clients found 30 percent increased profitability for a business because those who were pleased were 80 percent more likely to renew the services.

As Ignjatovic noted, technology is also making communication cheaper and faster.

“The best customer experiences I’ve had are with businesses that anticipated my needs,” Taylor said. “They had extras I didn’t consider but were important.”

Ignjatovic believes the best customer experience seems effortless for the customer. That’s good because DIYMarketers has found that the average attention span of customers is fleeting.

Happily Give the News

For Lataillade, top-notch customer experience is when friends pass the word with a big smile.

“The best experience ends up being shared with the people you think will care,” he said. “In business, this can be your peers or other fellow entrepreneurs you truly value.

“Go above and beyond and exceed my expectations as a customer,” Lataillade said. “For GetApp, it means becoming the TripAdvisor of software search and reviews.”

That’s possible if businesses pivot to evolving customer expectations.

“Customers want contactless experiences,” Lataillade said. “Our research shows that 75 percent of customers are very or somewhat likely to switch retailers or service providers to those with better contactless services.

“In the first years of building GetApp, we relied a lot on word of mouth,” he said. “We’ve acquired one of our key customers through a chat between a prospect and a customer.”

That reflects people being empowered.

“Customers need to feel valued,” Lataillade said. “If they don’t, they will take their business elsewhere. As a paying customer, you shouldn’t have to work hard for good customer service. It should come standard.”

Taylor added that she had “an amazing customer experience” when Human Proof Designs updated her website and “went above and beyond.”

Repeat experience not only continues but grows. Annex Cloud states that customers pay 67 percent more on average in their third year with a business than in the first year.

Called From the Carpet

“I learned a great deal about what exceptional customer experience looks like while living in Dubai — from carpet sellers,” Ignjatovic said.

Lataillade’s strategy for creating happy and satisfied customers comes down to “testing, testing, testing — and constant user feedback. We’re constantly testing and tweaking to ensure our product helps users reach their goal.”

Taylor concentrates on listening. “All anyone wants is to be heard and understood,” she said.

Complaints and negative feedback command the greatest attention.

“Recognize the signs of potential discomfort,” Ignjatovic said. “Customers don’t always share. Ask them for feedback.

“Chatbots can be really helpful in this regard,” she said. “I know small businesses use artificial intelligence to analyze customer data and better understand their clients.”

Technology used this way can be especially rewarding.

“AI for customer service is a godsend,” Taylor said. “It’s designed to plow through data and uncover opportunities that are easy to overlook, especially when seeking reviews. It takes outrageously amazing experiences to get customers to write a good review.”

Although it might sound off putting, artificial intelligence can have a human touch.

“AI can help deliver personalized experiences anywhere through automated workflows — optimizing availability and data access,” Lataillade said. “AI can help deliver personalized experiences like never before. Many tools are now AI-enabled and affordable for small business.

“There is something about those personalized human touches that we’ve lost,” he said. “A small-business owner told us the company still sends their clients handwritten thank-you notes in the mail.”

Pluses Versus Minuses

A Survicate survey found that it takes businesses 12 positive experiences to compensate for one negative experience. It’s another reason to bring technology and productivity into the picture.

Chatbots and voice assistants are enticing for improving customer experience, but they still need work.

“At GetApp, we are testing a virtual assistant,” Lataillade said. “It’s promising, but the key challenge is to ensure it understands more than 90 percent of the intent, which is not so easy. When users type ‘teams,’ do they mean Microsoft Teams or ‘how to build great teams’ or something else? There are always new ways to improve user and customer experience.”

For those with sparse funds, a DIYMarteters’ post details how to increase sales on a tight budget, the welcome offshoot from getting the most out of technology and a great customer experience.

“In my case, automation is not the answer,” Ignjatovic said. “People I work with need and expect human interaction. I use tools to speed up my processes in the background, but they are not AI tools.”

Changes to customer experience have come fast and furious in the last decade.

“Customer service is the new marketing,” Lataillade said. “Switching to an online customer experience strategy quickly has been a key factor to the success of many businesses. Software helped them accomplish that by increasing customer loyalty and helping temper customer expectations.

“Small businesses need to keep in mind that if they are going to offer a live chat on their website, someone needs to be available to answer,” he said. “The worst thing you can do is offer a live chat and then tell customers someone will contact you later.”

They Want It Now

Instead, most people want instant gratification.

“Customers are comfortable with online interaction,” Ignjatovic said. “What’s more, they expect it. It’s mandatory.”

Rapid changes and expectations in customer experience will continue.

“I see more use of AI and automation,” Taylor said. “I also see these technologies becoming more human centered. Right now, they aren’t really helpful, but they are getting there.”

McKinsey & Company goes even deeper as it weighs the future of customer experience.

“Our future will have powerful experiences,” Lataillade said. “We’ll be able to anticipate customer needs without having to ask.”

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James L Katzaman

Jim Katzaman is a charter member of the Tealfeed Creators' program, focusing on marketing and its benefits for companies and consumers. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn as well as subscribing here on Tealfeed.


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