A Blueprint to Better Customer Relationships
Customer experience is the key to what every company strives for: customers purchasing more, being more loyal, and sharing their experiences with their circle of influence. But there is a disconnect between what customers want and what they are getting because companies historically have not focused on or invested in the aspects of customer experience that are most meaningful.
Providing a positive customer experience isn’t just a warm and fuzzy, feel-good perk for consumers anymore. It is expected, and customers are willing to pay a premium for it — anywhere from 13% to 18% more, to be precise. But what turns an average experience into a great one? PricewaterhouseCoopers, in a 2018 study, found that consumers, both globally and in the United States, value such things as speed, convenience, consistency, friendliness and, most importantly, human touch. Despite living in an ever-increasingly technological world, customers crave human connection, even from the technology they use to create convenience.
The moral of the story is: customer experience is everything. Especially in a luxury industry like the salon and spa space. Here’s how merchants can get it right.
Know the Difference: Customer Experience vs. Customer Service
Customer experience and customer service are not so far from one another; however, customer service is just one aspect of the overall customer experience. Customer service focuses on one piece of the puzzle – human interaction and direct support of the customer – while customer experience considers the entire customer journey with your merchant’s salon, including customer service.
As with any other function of running a business, adding value to the overall customer experience should begin with having a strategy in place to do so. That starts with having a clear customer-centric vision, which merchants can define by creating a set of guiding principles for their salon. These principles will drive the behavior of the organization. Before merchants can come up with a customer-focused vision, they must first understand who their customers are and what they want.
Let’s start with the elephant in the room: technology. Even though consumers have made it explicitly clear that human connection trumps all else, they still desire the convenience that technology affords them (i.e. booking or changing appointments online, troubleshooting or having issues resolved via online chat or email, making payments with the touch of a button). What customers want most is to feel that the technology that offers them convenience also feels human and personal. That means that merchants should not utilize technology for the sake of having the newest and shiniest toy on the market, but for the sole purpose of delivering the qualities customers value. It is important to remember that technology is not the quick fix, but an enabler to drive future business and greater customer service.
Creating and nurturing an emotional connection with customers is a key factor in your merchants’ ability to add value to the customer experience. In fact, it could be argued that this is the most important factor. More than 50% of a customer’s experience is based on emotion, according to research by the Journal of Consumer Research. A customer’s emotional attachment to a brand, or a salon, increases customer loyalty. According to a Harvard Business Review study, customers who are emotionally connected are also three times more likely to recommend your merchant’s salon, three times more likely to re-book, less likely to search for alternative options, and much less price sensitive.
Find a Formula That Works and Find It Fast
Roughly 59% of American consumers will cease to do business with a company after several bad experiences and 17% after just one bad experience. That means your merchant doesn’t have many opportunities to play with trial and error without risking the loss of revenue and, for small businesses, that is a hard blow.
A salon’s success or failure is dependent on infusing as much value as possible into their customers’ overall experiences. Customers are more empowered than ever and, as such, expect more from the companies they transact with, and word of mouth travels fast. As with any relationship, the consumer-provider relationship needs constant attention and care, but if approached correctly, merchants can expect to see an overall rise in customer loyalty and retention and a direct positive impact to their bottom line.