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Ashley Deland is a business consultant, owner of Maison De Land (formerly Deland Marketing) and a Business Elite top 40 Under 40 winner.

When I’m hired as a business consultant, besides scanning the obvious business blueprint for necessities of success like marketing, branding, scalable systems and a uniformed digital ecosystem, I look at the customer journey and the multiple touch points within it.

The customer journey is a pivotal piece to any business—but it’s a piece that businesses often overlook. Having a well-designed customer journey is a core element of success that creates retention and referrals. When a brand focuses on providing an exceptional customer experience, they have the potential to see higher revenue rates and increased brand exposure.

Why?

In my experience, people are usually willing to pay more for better customer service and an elevated overall customer experience. Beyond profits, creating a luxury experience should be a core piece of your brand so you can add an extra layer of care and attention and show them just how invested you are in their overall experience.

Bring on the ‘white-glove’ experience.

It’s simply not enough these days to just provide average customer service. If you want to delight your customers and keep them coming back, providing a premium experience is essential. White-glove customer service is the process of exceeding customers’ expectations by putting their needs first, sincerely caring about their success and personalizing their experience from start to finish.

In the past, this level of service used to refer to a luxury experience that was reserved for clients with a high lifetime value. These customers would literally be greeted by hosts wearing white gloves who catered to their every need and want. Now, this premium experience isn’t reserved for VIP customers. It’s an experience for everyone; you give all of your customers the best you have to offer, which encourages loyalty and positive word-of-mouth referrals.

How can you elevate your customer journey?

Building a customer-first culture is easier said than done. Many brands want to create this experience, but they’re not sure where to start, so here are a few of my tips:

1. Create a customer strategy using a template.

A white-glove experience begins at the first interaction you have with your customers. Create a customer experience strategy that guides every aspect of how you serve your customers and provides a standard for your team. A strong strategy should include your company mission, customer support vision, support process, tools and software, goals and metrics.

2. Collect customer feedback.

Before you can elevate your experience, you have to understand how well you’re currently serving your customers. Gather feedback and outline where you’ve met or exceeded expectations, as well as areas you can improve.

3. Map the customer journey.

Before you can implement a company-wide initiative, you need a strategy. Mapping the customer journey is an excellent start to outline the steps your customer goes through when interacting with your brand, including engagement on social channels.

Make sure to consider a range of perspectives and where they’re at in the buyer’s journey. Remember to consider the pre-purchase aspect of the experience and the post-purchase experience as well. Many brands think they don’t need to worry after a sale, but this is an excellent opportunity to leave a positive impression that prompts word-of-mouth recommendations and referrals.

4. Consider the journey from multiple perspectives.

The customer experience is affected by several facets of your business, so avoid focusing on just one department when auditing the customer journey. Customers interact with different aspects of your brand, and you should consider the perspective of each one, including:

• Marketing: This team will have insights into brand awareness and customer expectations and can give you ideas about how customers find your brand and how you can improve your reputation.

• Sales: This team will have insights into the early stages of the customer relationship. Sales teams understand what motivates leads and the challenges customers encounter, as well as how they expect the product or service to address them.

• Customer service: Sales and marketing provide information about your customers’ expectations, while the customer service team provides insights into the reality of their experiences. They hear customer complaints, frustrations and general feedback, so they understand how you can improve the experience.

5. Personalize the customer journey.

Once you have feedback and a map, you can implement personalization strategies, particularly in your emails and landing pages, that make your customer feel heard and valued.

Your goal is to create the same type of white-glove experience you would expect to have as a VIP customer in a luxury store—but in a virtual environment. Use your customers’ names, and tailor every part of their experience to serve their needs and solve problems before they know they have them.

Personalization isn’t just a first name; it could be thank-you emails or gifts after purchase, customer follow-ups and surveys, and dynamic product recommendations based on past browsing and purchasing behavior.

The key takeaway is this: Your product or service could be an ideal fit for a customer, but they might find themselves with a competitor if they encounter barriers or frustrations along the customer journey. Customer demands are constantly evolving, and in order to provide a luxurious experience, you have to enhance your strategy, improve your efficiency and elevate your customer journey.


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