How are the Wizard of Oz and online businesses alike? It’s fair to assume that the author, L. Frank Baum, wrote a children’s novel and not a customer-relations manual. However, there are some valuable aspects of the story that can come quite handy when it comes to connecting with customers. (And it’s more fun this way, isn’t it?)
First, there is the setup - a group of people with different needs, who all came to the wonderful Wizard to address their individual pain points (customer galore!). Then, there is the “invisible” man behind the curtain, whose task is to please his visitors (perfect way to describe a business website). And of course, the roads all the characters have to travel to finally get what they desire (customer journey at its best). The Wizard learns what he needs to about each of his “customers” and delivers just what he or she needs, packaged perfectly and satisfying to a fault. Everyone goes home happy (even the Wizard).
Did our imaginations take a wild turn here? Perhaps. Nevertheless, the point is, to make people happy, both the Wizard of Oz and professionals doing business online have to have a customer-focused mindset. They must create a customer-first environment, catering to each customer’s needs and wants. It was a bit challenging for the Wizard to do this from behind the curtain. And it’s not easy for companies to do it from behind the screen. But in the magic kingdom of online customer satisfaction, anything is possible.
Know Your Characters: Learn About Your Customers’ Needs
Good stories have solid imagery of characters and insightful views of characters’ motivations. Successful business owners know their audiences. They know people’s pain points. Then, they figure out the best ways to address these pain points. Customer experience expert, Shep Hyken, puts it this way: “If you hope to succeed in any meaningful sense of that word, you must understand your customers and appreciate what they want.”
So to create a truly customer-first environment it’s important to learn as much as possible about your potential and current customers. Doing so in an online space can present some challenges. However, while traditional strategies may not work in this case, companies can adjust their approach to fit today’s online business environment.
Social media, for example, is a great source of information. Social listening is a useful tool that can provide insight, otherwise unavailable to business owners.
1|2 Social listening is when you use search queries to monitor for mentions and conversations related to topics like your brand, competition, and industry. It can be done simply with Twitter's Search function or with more sophisticated listening tools. #TwitterSmarter pic.twitter.com/q4tZLrjEkc— Hootsuite (@hootsuite) September 2, 2021
A great example of social listening in action is fast food company, Wendy’s, redesign of its french fry recipe. The company used social listening tools to learn about the growing demand for more natural-cut fries as well as customers’ preference for sea salt. Once it knew what customers wanted, Wendy’s came up with a different variation of its product more in tune with customers’ tastes.
Online communities can provide a clear picture of what audiences seek. Social media customer service channels can clarify what customers struggle with the most. Engaging with audiences on social media and using analytics to gather data, can be of great help when creating a customer-first environment.
Customer surveys and overall feedback collection can also shine a light on customers’ wants and needs. After all, if a company wants to know something about its customers, all it might need to do is ask.
Follow The Journey: Create A Customer Journey Map
Knowing your customer involves knowing their experience with your company, beginning to end.
Seeing products flying off the shelves is a beautiful sight. But sometimes customers are not too fast to make a purchase. Customers spend time browsing a company’s website. They ask support questions, they price compare, and sometimes they abandon their shopping carts, too. As a business owner, it’s easy to get frustrated. However, it’s important to remember that customers need time to go through the entire process. (Our beloved characters of the Wizard of Oz did not get what they wanted until they completed their journey to kill the Wicked Witch, after all.)
What you can do is build a customer journey map to create a customer-first environment. All the data collected from the journey map could be visualised and understood better with a heatmap. An interactive heatmap provides different values of the data represented by different colours which reveal the user activity. FullSession comes in handy with an interactive heatmap tool that will help you increase the level of digital engagement, find out the user issues on the website and many more. Keep this solution in mind for a better digital customer experience!
SEO of BrightWave Simms Jenkins advocates for customer journey mapping as a way to better understand customers and ensure a smooth customer experience. “Brands must think about the inception of the relationship, the drive toward the purchase, and how to nurture the relationship in the long-term with scaled personalization,” he says. “By creating a journey map, a company can then align their martech and their team structure to optimize data and create seamless experiences for customers.”
So get to know your customers through their journeys and ensure that the process is smooth and efficient. To do that, employ good Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software that can help you collect, store, manage, and analyze all customer data.
Ensure Happy End: Personalize Everything
Continuing with the theme of getting to know your customers, it’s important to note that for everyone to go home happy, people need to get exactly what they want. The lion in the Wizard of Oz story did not come for a heart. The Tin Man craved the heart and was very happy to get it. One size does not fit all. Customers’ satisfaction depends on personalization. Whether you have integrated different types of VoIP software to provide support or have created different content for messages, an individual approach will simplify things a lot.
Here are some statistics to consider. Over 70 percent of consumers feel frustrated when a shopping experience is impersonal. More importantly for online businesses, 74 percent of customers feel frustrated when website content is not personalized. Finally, 90 percent of U.S. consumers find marketing personalization very or somewhat appealing. Customer experience expert, Blake Morgan, who collected these statistics on personalization says that “companies that don’t prioritize creating a tailored experience run the risk of getting left behind.”
Personalization is crucial, especially in an online environment, where business is already impersonal in the traditional way. Companies must strive to be memorable in customers’ minds. Expectations are high. Personalization fulfills the need humans have to feel special, something they crave on a deep, psychological level. There are different ways to personalize service for customers. For example, listening with empathy when they reach out or surprising them with gifts. Or, another example, employing perfect packaging techniques or even including custom QR codes in your packaging that link to promotional offers or specific discount coupons. Whatever way you choose - and you should choose as many as you can - personalize, personalize, personalize.
Use Some Wizardry: Surprise With Unexpected Magic
Spoiler alert. The Wizard of Oz was not a wizard, but just a great showman. As a company doing business online, you can be too. Offering something unexpected and delightful, no matter how small, can do wonders for creating a customer-first environment.
Customer experience expert, Chip Bell, urges businesses to offer something he calls a value-added service. He defines it as “a unique and unexpected creation.” To achieve it, Bell recommends redefining customer experience as something unique and creative, that goes beyond all customer expectations. Add a handwritten note to the package you send to your customers. Make packaging creative and unique. Or, like online pet supply retailer Chewy, do something as personal as creating unique portraits of your customers’ pets. Whatever it is, get as creative as the Wizard of Oz and make sure no one ever forgets your Emerald City (a.k.a. your website).
Don’t Forget About Other People Behind The Curtain: Engage Your Employees
You can’t do it alone. That’s why you have a team of employees to help you. Taking care of them and making sure your team members are engaged will help you do everything we discussed above. Employee satisfaction leads to increased efficiency. That, in turn, results in faster and more effective customer service. That makes customers happy. Happy employees, therefore, mean happy customers.
To keep employees happy, provide unlimited support and ask for feedback, praise them and express your gratitude for their work. It’s also important to allow for flexibility. Support them with the tools they need, especially if they are working from home during the pandemic or on a permanent basis. Encourage creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. And, finally, create challenges and allow for growth. All these tactics act as encouragement and fuel for employee initiative. And that will ensure happy customers.
Create a customer-first environment from behind the curtain.
Doing business online with limited customer interactions is not an easy task. However, with some creativity and ingenuity, business owners can customize, personalize, and deliver a stellar customer experience even from behind the screens. Have a solid, encouraged team behind you, employ come personalization magic, and get to know your customers as much as you can. And everyone will go home happy. Even the Wizard.
About the author:
Natalya Bucuy is a content marketer at a B2B SaaS Contact Center software company, LiveHelpNow. With expertise in customer service and marketing, she has written numerous articles on the topic of customer experience, employee experience, and small business operations. Follow us on Twitter or check us out on LinkedIn.
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