When was the last time you thought about your customers’ experience from beginning to end? This is about more than the service you provide individual customers, but rather about putting yourself in the shoes of the people who engage with your product or service in order to make that experience better.
This is oftentimes something that gets overlooked, yet it’s an important practice to maintain. No business is ever “done” improving the customer experience, and the best businesses make regularly auditing their customer experience an integral part of their business strategy.
If it’s been a while since you’ve evaluated your customer experience, or if you’ve never done it at all, it’s time to take inventory. This begins by first looking back to how customers found your business and into the future after their projects are completed. Here are seven tips to help you get started.
1. Make Sure Your Website is Easy to Use
A lot of customers find new businesses online, or at the very least research businesses online before reaching out, even if they were recommended by a friend.
Make sure that your website is easy to navigate, especially if you require customers to access an online portal. Make sure your contact information is easy to find and up-to-date. Have a page dedicated to educating customers about your history, experience and brand.
Imagine what you would look for if you were a homeowner searching for a contractor. Is that information on your website?
Another important factor is making sure that your website loads quickly. It is incredibly frustrating when a website takes minutes to load or slows down the entire browser with large videos or incessant pop-up ads. Don’t lose potential customers’ attention or make them irritated because of your slow website.
2. Update Your Online Business Listings
Just as your contact information should be easy to find and updated on your website, it should also be accurate on popular business listing sites like Yelp and Google.
Often, big sites like Yelp, Google and Facebook show up in the search results before your website. You want to make sure that all of your information matches across sites, especially if websites before your own show up at the top of the search results.
Another thing you ought to do is update websites that potential customers regularly go to when researching a contractor. Make sure that your Better Business Bureau page is accurate, as well as your Angie’s List and LinkedIn profiles. This will help customers find information about you easily and efficiently.
3. Get Rid of Hidden Fees
Nothing frustrates a customer more than hidden charges. And when it comes to home improvement projects especially, a customer wants to stay on budget. Boost your reputation by eliminating hidden fees from your repertoire.
Give customers an honest and upfront bid when quoting projects. Let customers know that pricing could fluctuate once the project has started, and give them a window for where you believe their cost could land. They’ll appreciate how upfront you are.
If costs start to climb quickly during a project, let customers know. It might seem like a hard conversation to have, but it’s better to be honest about unforeseen costs rather than sending a huge bill at the end of a project. This way you’ll maintain your reputation and hopefully still garner a positive referral (even if the project went over budget).
4. Understand the Lives of Your Customers Beyond Your Business
This is a good practice for any business. Sometimes, it can be hard to imagine customers’ needs outside of what your business provides, but looking at customers’ lives as a whole can really help improve the customer experience.
One way to do this involves creating detailed customer personas that outline what your typical customers look like. Yes, they have home improvement needs, but what else is going on in their lives? Are they trying to sell their house? Are they expecting a new family member soon? What other needs do your customers have that you can help fill?
Another way to do this is by simply being aware. People’s homes are private places, so you may see things that most others are not privy to. Is a member of the family sick? Is their child going off to college? Small gifts like a get-well-soon card or good-luck present can really create a special connection between your business and the customer—boosting the customer experience while garnering great referrals.
5. Fix Problems Before They Happen
Always try to anticipate your customers’ needs. This really only requires that you listen and respond.
Talking to your sales team is a great way to do this. What objections do they hear regularly? What problems are customers reaching out for your business to solve? Once you know these, create materials that answer customers’ questions before they ask.
Another way to do this is by asking current customers for feedback about their experience. What could your team do better in the future? What process do they wish went more smoothly? Once you get this information, find new ways or develop new processes that will make sure these issues are resolved in the future.
6. Reply Quickly
People like quick response times from businesses. Even though you likely cannot complete a customer’s home improvement project within 24 hours, make it a goal to respond to inquiries or issues in that amount of time. A speedy reply lets customers know that you are listening and it lets them know that a real person is available to fulfill their needs.
7. Thank Customers Publicly
Some customers might be a little bashful on the outside, but everyone likes positive recognition. If you have a particularly good interaction with a customer, share that experience on social media to show your appreciation.
If a customer leaves you a glowing review online or sends you a quality lead by making a positive referral, say thank you by sending them an email, or better yet, a personalized note. These little touches help a customer feel good even after your work is completed, extending that positive customer experience.
The behaviors and habits that your company should do to provide a positive customer experience should be common sense. These best practices are what separate the good businesses from the great ones.
Once these processes and habits are in place, you won’t even notice customer experience initiatives taking up extra time. What you will see, however, is increased referrals and exponential business growth.
Worth it? I’d say so.