Do you know the difference between customer service and customer experience? As a home improvement contractor, understanding the difference is key as you try to grow your business in a world where customers have more opportunity to interact with your company than ever before.
The best home improvement contractors are committed to providing outstanding customer service. The direct service you and your employees provide from the front line, when you promptly return a call or responded to a concern and manage a job, is critical for keeping existing customers happy and gaining new referrals.
You and your team know how to be patient and professional with customers, understanding that some are going to come to you upset. To be successful, home improvement contractors must provide a consistent, high level of customer service on every job. They know that stellar customer service provides a competitive edge.
However, today providing even great customer service is not enough for your business to thrive in a changing marketplace. You must now be mindful of the entire experience your customers have dealing with your company. Many in business call this “customer experience,” and improving customer experience is one of the most difficult challenges home improvement contractors face.
Here are some questions that relate to customer experience:
What is it really like working with your company? How did the customer find your business? What will a customer write about you on a review website? What will customers say about you on Facebook? What will customers tell their friends about the quality of your work and the professionalism of your employees? Was your customer pleased with the project results?
Management is the key to providing an excellent experience for your customers. Gartner defines customer experience management as:
“The practice of designing and reacting to customer interactions to meet or exceed customer expectations and, thus, increase customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy.”
Simply put, customer experience is comprised of every interaction a customer has with your business, from the time they discover your company until after the project is complete.
Let us now examine four key ways customer experience is different than customer service.
1. Create a Customer Experience Strategy
Before you can optimize customer experience, you need a clear vision of where you want that experience to take your business. Write statements that explain your values and company culture, and how those values are reflected in the customer experience.
Picture the customer experience from start to finish, all the different touch points and how customers interact with your company. What is the first impression a customer has of your business? What is the last impression?
These written statements should guide all aspects of your customer experience management, from web development to content creation to email campaigns to how you interact with people on social media.
2. Know Who Your Customers Are
The customer experience includes every interaction someone has with your company. To provide a powerful experience you must understand your customer. Many companies create detailed personas for their customers, which are tracked and updated as customers interact with the business through the sales cycle and beyond.
Persona research and customized messaging can be a competitive advantage for home improvement contractors focused on growing their businesses.
Here are 10 questions HubSpot suggests you ask about your customers when creating personas:
What are your demographics?
What does a day in their life look like?
What are their pain points?
What do you help them solve?
What do they value most? What are their goals?
Where do they go for information?
What are the most common objections to your product and service?
What types of sales cycles does your sales team work with?
What generalizations can you make about different types of customers you serve best?
Use the answers to these questions to identify three to five customer personas and give each persona a name like Frugal Fred, Remodel Ralph or Discretionary Diane.
3. Build Brand Awareness and Loyalty
Businesses must provide customer service. Most companies wouldn’t survive without it. The problem is, traditional customer service sometimes doesn’t do enough to build brand loyalty and differentiate a company from its competition.
That’s where customer experience comes in. There is no better way to learn about your customers than by listening to their feedback. And there is no better way to keep your customers happy than by understanding their needs and delivering solutions. Providing the right customer experience helps you do both.
Create a strategy to gather customer feedback, both positive and negative, be sure to respond to concerns on social media and review sites as quickly and professionally as possible.
Use your website and social media channels to thank customers and show appreciation. Post about their projects on your Facebook page or write about them on your blog.
All of this will build brand loyalty and enhance the customer experience.
4. Segment Your Customers
Usually you’re providing direct customer service while performing many other duties. There hasn’t been time to segment your customers into different categories based on their needs, wants, budgets and other factors.
That’s what customer experience management is for. Utilize custom landing pages to request your customers sign up for a monthly newsletter, special promotions, connecting on social media sites, or updates to your blog.
Watch how your customers behave on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and industry websites like Houzz. Then use that information to attract similar customers to grow your business.
Traditional customer service techniques are only part of the overall customer experience. While customer service is the foundation of customer experience, today there are other touch points that must be considered as you move your customers through the sales cycle and completion of their projects.
Ever wonder how some home improvement contractors are able to keep a customer for life?
It starts by having a better understanding of the customer. You’ll have more return customers and new referrals if you personalize the experience of working with your business.
Would you like to learn more how EnerBank USA supports the customer experience for our clients?