About the writer: Curiosity coupled with a natural talent for story-telling and a keen interest in technology and innovation, has led Claire Marshall's work to be published in places as diverse as the Huffington Post to millennial-focused global site Collectively (funded by the Future Forum). Claire has a background in economics and marketing and is an experienced content producer for film, television, online media and social channels.

Sharing our thoughts on a recent customer experience is second nature to most of us, and studies have shown we are more likely to share negative experiences than positive ones. Join this with the fact that 70% of people consult independent review sites, and 57% consult social media before making a purchase and your customer experience has never been more important. Here are five tips for making sure you are always getting great reviews.

To discover the key considerations to create a winning customer experience, read our guide.

1. Provide your customers with answers.

We have all been to that restaurant where we are welcomed by a friendly waiter who is happy to answer all our questions about the menu. In today’s highly competitive marketplace how a customer is made to feel can have a big impact on a businesses bottom line. Behind providing good value for a product, “excellent customer service’ was found to be the second most important factor consumers consider when choosing a company to do business with. When you drill down into what these customers mean by ‘excellent customer service’ the ability of a business to answer questions is top of the list.  So don’t hide your contact details in order to eschew costly customer interactions. Encourage your customers to ask questions and make sure you answer them promptly. While you are at it why not keep a record of customer questions, and turn them into a useful knowledge base?  In a survey by Amdocs, 91% of people said that they would use an online knowledge base if it was available.

2. Use big data to generate recommendations.

A waiter that can recommend the perfect wine for your meal is a great example of up-selling that adds value to the customers experience. A study by Invesp found that this is not just true to the restaurant industry with 45% of online shoppers more likely to shop on a site that offers personalized recommendations. While this might seem hard to do with less paired purchases, big data is making it easier. Using machine learning models, or recommendation engines like Hadoop, the savvy retailer can generate better quality suggestions leading to an increase in customer spend. Amazon is a prime example making 35-60% revenue uplift just on recommendations. So maybe it’s time for your business to harness your customer’s data so you to can recommend the perfect product pairing.

3. Use surveys and interviews to collect feedback.

“How was your meal?” It is a simple question that is commonly asked in good restaurants. However in many other industries customers are never asked about their experience. This can be dangerous as studies have shown that you can expect to hear from only about 4% of dissatisfied customers. Checking in with the other 96% can provide you with not only valuable information about what they weren’t satisfied, but even more importantly, an opportunity to rectify any dissatisfaction and turn that negative experience into a positive one. Encourage your customers to leave feedback on your own website and also consider crowd sourced review platforms like G2 Crowd, which offer authentic reviews and lead generation for the software industry (check out our profile here).

4. Turn complaints into opportunities.

Inevitably things go wrong and effect customer experience. However a quick and caring response can go along way to turn a customer’s opinion. In fact a study shows that a while a whopping 91% of unhappy customers whose complaint is not resolved will not be willing to do business with that company again, resolving the complaint in the customer’s favorchanges this dramatically, with 70% of customers saying that they are happy to forgive and forget. But if you miss your chance to course correct and wind up with a bad review, all is not lost. A study by Harris Interactive showed that when a company responded promptly to a customer’s bad review 34% of people deleted their negative review, 33% turned it into a positive review and 18% became a loyal customer. 

Create a Winning Customer Experience

5. Reward customer loyalty.

TV bar Cheers was famous as the place ‘where everyone knew your name’ and rewarding a customer’s loyalty is a great way to make them feel special and keep them coming back to your business. Personalized communication post purchase can make a huge difference to customers coming back, with a new study showing 59% of customer who experience personalization believe it had a noticeable influence on their purchasing decisions. Personalized thank you emails post-purchase are an easy way to gain goodwill but if your business can go one step further and offer a loyalty program or discount on future purchases for returning customers it can be even more valuable. In a recent study by Accenture customers who are part of a loyalty program generate between 12 to 18% more revenue than customers who are not. Loyal customers can also be encouraged to become advocates for your brand, simply by asking them to share their thoughts. Encouraging authentic likes, posts, reviews, or shares from loyal customers is a goldmine for reaching new potential customers.

Regardless of the industry you are in, there is no denying that customers are doing their homework before making a purchase. Ensuring that your customers have a positive customer experience, even when things go wrong, is the secret to making sure that they come back to your business next time with their friends.

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