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Every marketer, every executive, every business owner... they all know that customer satisfaction is inextricably linked to customer retention. In simple terms, a happy customer will tend to come back while an unhappy customer will tend to go elsewhere next time. It always used to be the case that customers would "vote with their feet". The problem today is that they also "vote with their social media", which greatly multiplies the impact of a customer's feelings about a brand or supplier - and that can make or break an entire business overnight. This article is copyright 2021 The Best Customer Guide.

Think briefly about the various 'viral' stories of bad (or even downright insulting) customer service that have blazed their way around the internet in recent times. Although it is still comparatively rare, even now, one customer who has a really poor experience could potentially reach billions of others with their story. The problem is that you can never know which customer that's going to be, or when, or where, or why.

The flip-side of that particular coin is that one customer with a really amazing experience can also go viral with it. It's probably less often that it happens (after all, 'bad news makes a better headline') but there are still plenty of 'feel good' customer stories out there that turn ordinary brands and their human front-line staff into urban heroes - forces for good regardless of other commercial interests. They do exist, and there's every chance your own brand could be the hero, admired internationally for what might be even the smallest act of kindness, decency, politeness and helpfulness.

While implementing a CX initiative does not guarantee more revenue or profit, as if it were some kind of 'magic formula' that you apply, one thing that is certain is that genuine improvements in the customer experience will result in customers being more satisfied with the areas that were improved.

Get the basics right first
It's important to understand that in any customer interaction, there are basic requirements that need to be fulfilled that won't usually provide any particular satisfaction (such as having the items in stock, the store being open for business, or there being enough parking available outside at busy times), and there are other factors that will provide customers with the feeling that they're glad they did business with you (such as a really helpful members of staff, or a truly special personalized offer).

The basic requirements are known as 'hygiene factors', and it is absolutely critical to address any outstanding problems in those areas before even considering improvements in other areas. After all, if a customer never bothers visiting your store because they know there won't be any parking available, they'll never find out how helpful your staff can be or how good your offers are.

The Marketing Factbook has published a comprehensive guide to building just such a CX Improvement Plan and showing you how and where to prioritise the changes that need to be made to get the best 'bang for your buck'. The 200-page guide, entitled 'The Customer Experience Factbook', is already available in print, as a PDF download, and on Amazon Kindle, at https://www.marketingfactbook.com/cxfactbook

What are your CX 'hygiene' factors?
Among the critical Customer Experience hygiene factors address in the guide, you'll find practical advice and guidance on improving:

  1. Sales & Marketing Channels
  2. Advertising & Copy Writing
  3. Sales Funnel Roadmap
  4. Purchase Journey Roadmap
  5. Customer Lifetime Journey Roadmap
  6. Consistent Multi-Channel Messaging & Offers
  7. Usability, Features, Availability & Reliability of Digital Channels
  8. Geographical Locations & Proximity
  9. Trading/Opening Hours or Restrictions
  10. Parking/Parent & Child/Disabled Access/Pet Friendly
  11. Internal & External Signage & Displays
  12. Store Cleanliness & Lighting
  13. Employee Presentation, Knowledge & Empowerment
  14. Merchandising/Store Layout
  15. Product Range/Selection
  16. Items In-Stock, Frequent Re-Stocking
  17. Competitive Pricing, Offers & Service
  18. Customer Loyalty/Reward Programs
  19. Personalized, Timely & Relevant Offers, Rewards and Benefits
  20. Online or Mobile App-based Store-finder/Stock-checker
  21. Purchasing Online or In-Store, for Delivery or Collection
  22. Ease of Check-Out, Payment, Minimal Queueing
  23. On-Receipt Messaging (Transactional Marketing)
  24. Product Returns & Refunds
  25. Customer Service & Complaints
  26. Customer Feedback Solicitation

And those are just the obvious areas where customers 'touch' your business; There are many more areas behind the scenes that affect the Customer Experience without the customer even being aware of them, and those are also detailed in The Customer Experience Factbook along with practical ideas for cost-effective and time-sensitive improvement plans.

"It's not a perfect world, and not every organization or store will even be able to address all of their basic hygiene factors without disproportionate trouble and expense," explained Peter Clark, author of The Customer Experience Factbook. "But the key lies in correcting or improving everything that is possible and practical, and make plans to improve other areas when the opportunity arises in future. No CX plan is ever finite or fixed-term - it's always an ongoing process to some degree."

The Marketing Factbook's truly practical guide to CX improvement, The Customer Experience Factbook, goes into considerable detail and provides practical advice on building and executing your own game-changing CX Improvement Strategy. The guide is available as a PDF document, as well as in print and on Amazon Kindle, at https://www.marketingfactbook.com/cxfactbook