Every business leader is looking for an edge. How can we sell more sprockets? What do we need to do to expand our market share? These are questions echoing in boardrooms big and small around the country.

It turns out the answer has been right in front of us the whole time: focus on the customer.

Sure, there are plenty of exercises a business can undergo to attract customer attention. They can (and probably should) invest in a marketing plan, rethink their messaging, make sure their business structure is sound, and more. 

But it’s easy to get lost staring at the details and miss the big picture. You can be doing everything right, but if you’re not winning the battle for attention in your customers’ minds, you’re losing the war. 

Nowadays, it’s all about customer experience and ensuring that your business is customer focused.

Why Customer Experience Matters

“What can I do for you today?” The standard question when you call a customer service line or write to a chatbot when you’re facing problems. “What can I do for you today?” is one of those fundamental questions of customer service.

It is also extremely misleading.

Let’s look closely for a moment at this idea. When a customer service rep (human or otherwise) asks this question, it gives the impression that this process is a one-way transaction: the customer has a problem and gets assistance. Then, the interaction ends. However, businesses have realized that this approach to customer service ignores a goldmine of impactful and longer-lasting opportunities for businesses to connect with customers. And to 

Yes, the customer might have a problem or needs assistance, but instead of viewing this interaction as a one-off transaction, savvy business leaders have started seeing customer service as much, much more. 

The question changes from “What can I do for you today?” to “How can we help each other?”

Scratching Each Others’ Backs

Every customer service interaction represents an opportunity. That is the secret to modern day customer success. The way that customer service has expanded has opened up new avenues to not only strengthen relationships with customers, but to also increase sales and build reputations.

Much of this revolution in customer service derives from the litany of communication avenues now in the domain of customer service teams. Gone are the days of call center-dominated customer service experience; now, teams manage chatbots, email forms, social media helplines, texting services and more. These channels let customers choose the method of communication most convenient for them while providing new data points for businesses.

And thanks to services like Hoverstate, all of this data is collected and interpreted in meaningful ways. After all, it’s not enough to just collect data; you have to make sense of it, too.

The Customer Journey

This data is invaluable in understanding the customer journey. It doesn’t matter if a customer heads straight to your website and chooses a service or takes a circuitous journey through the seven levels of internet hell before ending up with your products or services; every journey presents a wealth of information that can and should inform your entire business.

Why is it important to know about your customers’ experiences? First, understanding where they’re coming from can help you figure out how best to fight for their mindshare. If your customers are seeking recommendations for services/products on social media, you want to be sure that your social media game is strong to keep your business in their thoughts.

Second, and related, knowing the path they took can help you find weaknesses in your customer service and marketing departments. To gain more ground in the battle for mindshare, you need to be sure that you are positioning yourself properly throughout their entire journey. By examining the entirety of their journey from discovery to research to action, you can better identify how to stay at the forefront of your customers’ minds.

More Than Problem Solving

Because customer service has shifted to other platforms, it is no longer simply a reactive service but a proactive one as well. Consider how businesses use social media to answer customer questions. By leveraging social media channels, these businesses can generate goodwill and data to find potential problems. For instance, social listening tools can uncover issues so your team can come up with solutions before even getting complaints.

Customer service can also use social media platforms to thank loyal customers and participate in the relationship building process. By incorporating customer service techniques with reputation and relationship building processes, businesses are creating loyalty for customers that would otherwise feel nothing for your brand.

And to be clear, customer service has always played a role in customer retention, but now with new tools and industry trends, customer service teams can build relationships outside of the context of addressing grievances.

Happy Customers, Happy Life

All of this translates to real gains for companies. Keeping customers happy, expanding communication channels, and collecting data represent valuable outcomes that translate into more sales, more knowledge about customers, and a greater understanding of consumer habits. 

In this day and age where customers rely on recommendations and suggestions from others, making a customer happy can be the difference between a referral or a missed opportunity. That’s why it’s important to think of the sales process as continuing past the transaction. Creating experiences–and positive experiences–will keep your customers coming back and encourage them to recommend your business.

And which would you rather have: a single sale or a customer that not only keeps coming back for more, but brings his or her friends? 

So the next time your team asks a customer “What can I do for you today?” realize that they’re providing tangible outcomes to your entire business and not just solving a simple problem.