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The Fast Company Executive Board is a private, fee-based network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.

Enhance the customer experience with 15 ‘low-hanging fruits’

Creating simple but effective changes to your customer experience can make a huge difference in how your brand is perceived.

Enhance the customer experience with 15 ‘low-hanging fruits’
Members of Fast Company Executive Board share their expert insights. [Image: Courtesy of the individual members.]

When it comes to customer service, it’s often the little things that make the most difference. Simple actions like using the customer’s first name more often or delivering a personalized order confirmation are easy enough to automate and execute, but they can have a big and lasting impact on how a customer feels about your brand.

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There are plenty of opportunities to pick the “low-hanging fruit” and start improving your customer experience right away, without breaking the bank or expending tons of resources. To help you do this, 15 members of Fast Company Executive Board shared some easy ways they’ve boosted their customer experience and why it was so effective.

1. KNOWING THE CUSTOMER

It’s been said before because it’s simple: To improve the customer experience you have to know the customer. Social media is invaluable that way, giving us a direct line to what issues students face. We’ve learned — simply by listening to them — how to help them beyond school, ensuring they’ve got the support they need in key areas of their lives through initiatives, like Chegg Life and Chegg.org. – Heather Hatlo Porter, Chegg, Inc.

2. DIFFERENTIATING YOURSELF FROM OTHERS

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Give people an experience of who you are. In any profession, there are many people who have the same skillset and offerings. What differentiates you is who you are and the relationships you cultivate with your customers. My favorite “low-hanging fruit” is simply you. Lead with your natural character strengths to offer value in a way that only you can. – Van Lai-DuMone, worksmart Advantage

3. USING A NET PROMOTER SCORE

Using a net promoter score (NPS) survey is one of the easiest ways companies can get started with improving their customer experience. This one-question survey augmented with an open comment field is easy to administer and only takes a few seconds for a client to respond to in an email. Once you have your customer’s ranking and their open comments, you can tackle the areas that need improvement. – Cheri Beranek, Clearfield Inc

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4. LEVERAGING A BAD CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

One of the lowest-hanging fruits is when a customer has a bad experience. We see it as an opportunity to show how great we are. If somebody has a complaint or is frustrated with our service, we have a chance to turn it around. Leave no opportunity for someone to walk away. Instead, leverage it and turn it around. There is always something to do. – Liza Streiff, Knopman Marks Financial Training

5. THANKING TEAM MEMBERS

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Thank them. As individuals, like every day. Every single person our team interacts with needs to know that we are grateful for them as an individual. We end calls with ‘thanks for your trust’ because, at the end of the day, we want them to know that we truly are grateful for their individualized trust. – Meagan Bowman, STOPWATCH

6. RESPONDING IN A TIMELY MANNER

Responsiveness is the heart and soul of great customer service. Letting your customers know that you are trying to address their concerns is essential if you want to keep them coming back. People want to be heard and will appreciate it if their complaints, concerns, or comments are acknowledged and addressed in some form. – Evan Nierman, Red Banyan

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7. TAKING A PERSONAL INTEREST IN THE CONVERSATION

As CEO, I try to step in the conversation whenever I can. It’s scalable when you support dozens of enterprise and SaaS clients — soon to be hundreds — but I’m trying to spend time on our Slack or Zoom calls with the champions and learn about their experience. – Yoav Vilner, Walnut

8. FEATURING CUSTOMERS ON SOCIAL MEDIA

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Featuring a customer on your brand’s Instagram page or via user-generated content on site is such a powerful way of honoring your customers and showing them love and gratitude as does just responding to their likes, comments, and DMs. At the end of the day, there are two humans on either side of the device. I’m also a huge fan of the personalized note or delightful surprise when the customer opens their package. – Daria Burke, JustFab

9. FINDING CUSTOMER PAIN POINTS THROUGH DATA

Figure out the most obvious pain points using Google Analytics, Crazy Egg, or other data. If many consumers rage click on a particular area of your site or app or drop off around check out, it’s time to adjust the consumer experience accordingly to both improve revenue and retention.  – Fehzan Ali, Adscend Media LLC

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10. HOSTING ROUTINE CHECK-INS

Routine check-ins, like calls or meetings, are great ways to keep in communication with your customers. If you have a large customer base, make sure to have a great customer-oriented service team to handle the volume of needs that may arise. Handle all issues with patience, looking beyond just the issue at hand and instead, find the root cause. Find out what you can do to actually support them. – John Hall, Calendar

11. FORGING A HUMAN CONNECTION WITH CUSTOMERS

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We consider anyone who works with us or spends a dollar with us part of our family and we treat them as such. Empathy and solutions are the goals in every single interaction. The customer is a human being. The person handling customer service is a human being. When both are reminded of this fact from the first interaction, getting to a positive solution becomes much easier. – Richard RB Botto, Stage 32

12. INTERACTING ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Customers really just want to know that you care about them and that they aren’t just another number in your ledger book. One of the best ways to make them feel that way is through social media. When you make posts, customers will respond. You should respond back to them in turn. When you get complaints, answer them and help with the problem. Sometimes just letting them know you care is enough. – Jason Hall, Five Channels

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13. FOLLOWING THROUGH ON PROMISES

Manage expectations. If you are going to call them back today, call them back. If you can’t call them back today, tell them tomorrow and not today. People are generally understanding when someone has communicated the expectations. But too many times, customer service overpromises and never communicates. – Brendan P. Keegan, Merchants Fleet

14. THOROUGHLY UNDERSTANDING YOUR CUSTOMER

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Know your customer. Clients who feel a personal connection and believe a vendor understands their problems are more likely to use that vendor. Like any relationship, you must spend time with them. Periodic phone calls or in-person visits are critical. This leads to understanding problems and finding answers together. Solutions that are discovered together provide a sense of ownership and pride. – Lonnie Buchanan, Veracity Solutions

15. SHOWING YOUR GRATITUDE

Remember the little things, your basic manners, for example, and show your gratitude. A simple please or thank you is a powerful thing. Customer service is all about making customers feel valuable and important and all customers deserve your full attention and a positive attitude.  The little things matter. They add up to big things and exceptional customer service. – Eric Schurke, Moneypenny

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