These days, we hear a lot about providing positive customer experiences. Winning loyal customers is no longer just about providing products with exceptional value and quality. Consumers have many furniture options and many are willing to pay more for furniture when brands deliver exceptional customer experiences. So what exactly defines the customer experience and what can you do to make improvements?

Your customers are interacting with you through any number of channels, such as email, customer service departments, social media, in-store visits, and on-line shopping. The customer experience is about more than each of these touch points individually – it’s about the entire customer journey and your relationships with customers across this journey.

A basic version of the customer journey may look something like this:

  • Awareness and Gathering Information – As consumers begin the buying process, they are searching for furniture and products you or your competitors are selling. Be sure your consumers can easily find and access the information they need about your products. If you have an online presence, is your website easy to navigate? Or do you use social platforms to display your products?
  • Buying Experience – Take a walk in your customer’s shoes and sell how you would want to be sold to. We’ve all had buying experiences that were less than pleasant – a pushy car salesman or an insurance company that wouldn’t take no for an answer for additional services. Giving your customer’s options, providing recommendations, offering free shipping, or having a clearly stated refund policy can all go a long way to creating a superior buying experience.
  • After Sales Experience – Once your customer has completed their purchase, the “after sales” experience can create true brand advocates. Do you offer warranties, refunds, or replacement offers? Do you follow up with phone calls to ensure the buying process went smoothly?

Providing positive customer experiences across the customer journey increases customer loyalty, repeat business, and reduces churn. According research by Forrester, 73% of consumers would expand their purchases if they had a positive customer experience and 89% would switch to a competitor due to a negative customer experience.

Here are 5 ways to improve the customer experience:

  • Know your Customer:
    Delivering exceptional customer experience means knowing your customers. The better you know them, the more relevant are the offers you can deliver, enhancing loyalty and retention. To do this, be sure to centralize all your customer interactions into one database. Any source of customer information should be included. By applying customer analytics and segmenting your customers into groups based on behavior, you can send highly targeted messaging and offers based on your customers’ needs and preferences.
  • Become Personalized:
    Today’s consumers expect to have personalized interactions with companies. This includes both offline and online communications. While people prefer to be greeted by their first name versus “Dear Customer”, personalization goes well beyond this, such as personalized recommendations when shopping on-line based on past purchases or triggered emails when it’s time to purchase a new mattress.
  • Be Social:
    More customers and prospects are using social media to interact with customer service departments. Consumers expect to be engaged by companies when asking a question or posting a complaint. One study by NM Incite found that nearly half of U.S. social media users actively seek customer service through social sites. . Prompt attention to customer complaints, questions or comments on social sites provides a great opportunity to build better customer relationships with social followers.
  • Create a Customer-Centric Culture:
    A truly successful customer experience program begins with a company-wide customer focus. Listen to your customers and then empower your employees with that information – from in-store sales representatives to customer call centers.
  • Create a Consistent Brand Image, Regardless of Channel
    Your customers want to feel like they are dealing with the same company, regardless of the channel. Each and every channel experience should be stamped with your unique brand image. By using customer intelligence to connect each of these cross-channel interactions, the best experience can be delivered no matter where your customer is on the buying journey.

The battle for mind share and market share has shifted – consumers are more in power than ever before. Delivering positive experiences aligned with your customer’s preferences goes a long way in boosting customer loyalty, reducing customer churn, and creating a truly unique competitive differentiation.

For more tips to help you better understand your customers, download our Business Intelligence Solutions Guide.