As a brand, your reputation is everything. If your brand is known for being consistently helpful, honest, and fair, you’re going to earn far more customers—and keep the ones you have. Most brands attempt to build their reputation through marketing and advertising efforts, which are useful. But if you want to see the best brand reputation benefits, you need to embrace a customer experience strategy.
What Is customer experience?
Though similar in name, customer experience (CX) is distinguished from customer service. Customer experience refers to the sum total of a customer’s encounters of your brand and impressions of your brand. CX starts with a customer’s first exposure to your brand, and continues through their purchasing experience, their interactions with salespeople and customer service reps, and their lasting impression of your brand overall. Customer service can be thought of as an aspect of customer experience, which itself includes many other elements and considerations.
How CX affects your brand reputation
So what does CX have to do with your brand reputation?
- Individual customer perceptions and loyalty. First, your CX strategy will impact how individual customers perceive your brand, and how loyal they are to your brand. For example, if a customer consistently has good experiences with your brand and thinks of your brand as more trustworthy, they’ll have a much more positive impression and will be likely to stick with your brand for a longer period of time.
- Word of mouth. Overall, word of mouth advertising accounts for 13 percent of all consumer sales, and could influence even more. If you consistently give customers good experiences, they’ll want to share their experience with others. This means you’ll increase sales, of course, but it also means your brand’s reputation will reach further; more people will realize how much you care about the average customer’s experience.
- Brand values and familiarity. Your CX strategy may also emphasize your brand’s values, and build general familiarity with those values over time. Via sales, marketing, advertising, customer service, and other strategies, you can make it clear what your company stands for—and make sure a greater number of people realize it.
How to improve your reputation via CX
So what steps can you take to improve your reputation with a CX strategy?
- Map out the customer journey. Start by mapping out the entire customer journey, from start to finish. How do people hear about your brand for the first time? When do they first interact with a representative of your brand? What is their first purchase like? How do they interact with your brand on an ongoing basis? Too many brands suffer from only focusing on customer service, or other microcosms of customer interaction.
- Engage with customers regularly. Any CX strategy will benefit from repetition and engagement. Make sure your strategy affords your brand the opportunity to engage with customers on a regular basis. That could mean sending emails, making phone calls, posting on social media, or even just advertising on a more consistent basis.
- Train employees to provide great service. Your employees will be the front line of your brand, responsible for interacting with customers directly. Make sure all your customer service reps, salespeople, and social media managers are trained to provide customers with the best possible experience—and use feedback to make it even better.
- Proactively resolve issues. Even the best brands occasionally make mistakes, or leave people with negative impressions. It’s your responsibility to make up for those mistakes and issues however you can. Work proactively when possible to identify and resolve issues early. If it’s too late to resolve an issue fully, give an apology and try to do something positive to make up for it.
- Surprise your customers with outstanding offers. Novel experiences tend to be much easier to remember, and they leave a more powerful lasting impression on people. You can take advantage of this by surprising your customers with outstanding offers or other positive things they might not expect.
- Personalize whatever you can. Personalization can instantly improve the average customer’s experience. It’s much more pleasant and memorable to receive offers, messages, and interactions that are tailored to you—and not just a generic customer who happens to share demographics with you.
- Collect feedback and improve. Finally, collect feedback from your customers directly and do whatever you can to improve the experience. What are customers’ primary complaints and what do they love about your brand? Run experiments to figure out what works and what doesn’t.
Customer experience is arguably the best way to improve your brand reputation—especially if it’s used in coordination with your existing sales, marketing, and advertising strategies. Spend time optimizing your approach, and take consistent measurements of customer perceptions to ensure your tactics are working.