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As the year is still young, it’s time to begin creating strategies for 2017, revise what worked in 2016 and scale back on what didn’t, says Richard LeCount at USB 4 Photographers

As we’re still in the throes of the new year, many businesses are reviewing the events of the past 12 months and evaluating the value they have brought to the organisation. As with most things, the key to moving forwards is realising what went wrong and taking proactive steps to change and improve upon past events – and your business is no different.With the customer experience becoming ever more important, we’ve decided to put together 8 steps you can take to transform your customer experience this year.

  1. Know your customers
If you don’t understand your customers, then everything you do is effectively a stab in the dark. Your customers are your businesses lifeline; everything you do is for them! So, if you don’t know who they are, what they do, why they buy from you and other essential information, then you’re doing your business a disservice. Make 2017 the year that you invest into customer insights, and truly understand everything about them.
  1. Use Your data
Use your data! You’ve taken the time to understand your customers, so use the wealth of data that the information holds. You are sitting on a treasure chest of data, which will allow you to completely personalise and tailor your marketing and sales strategy. A CRM isn’t just the responsibility of the sales team – it can unlock a world of opportunities for your marketing team too!
  1. Personalise your communications
We all like to receive something personal – be it from a friend or a business – and taking the time to personalise your customer communications has been proven to improve open and click-through rates by 65%. Personalisation has come a long way from simply referencing someone’s name in communications - use your data to see what else you can find out about your customer. Tell them how long it has been since they last purchased with you, what did they buy, ask them how they found it.
  1. Include customers in conversations
User-generated content has paved the way for customers to be included in – and driving – conversations about your business. Social media is certainly not a sales tool; it’s a platform to raise brand awareness, engage in conversations with your audience and share authentic brand messages. Make a resolution to reply to comments, share user-generated content and proactively engage with your audience’s conversations online.
  1. Share your customer vision internally
If you don’t share your customer vision internally, then you can’t expect your team to deliver on it. Create a customer experience plan and then educate your employees on the value it can bring to their day-to-day activities and the business as a whole. Keep it brief and limit your vision to five key points or less – the more concise, the more targeted and deliverable your customer vision will be.
  1. Understand your customer journey
If you think your customer journey is simple, then think again. With even more avenues to reach you from, and an increasing number of ways customers can do business with you – the customer journey is becoming more complex. The point of mapping a customer journey is to understand it from an external perspective and how this impacts on your business and bottom line. If something isn’t right or you aren’t getting your desired ROI – then look at what you can do to change it.
  1. Remember human interactions are unique
There is no such thing as an original idea. And where products and services are concerned the same saying also rings true. While your offering may be similar to that of your competitors, it’s your customer experience and service that makes you different. Take the time to channel your efforts into what makes your business unique – and that’s your customer experience.
  1. Use your brand
People buy into brand, not products, so you should be ensuring that your brand is up to scratch. First impressions are everything, and ultimately if something isn’t presented well, it’s unlikely your target audience will pursue it further and find out more. Your brand needs to pique interest and communicate your brand values. Keeping your business on brand is essential, and without doubt, it needs to extend to all areas of your business.

By Richard LeCount, Sales and Marketing Director at USB 4 Photographers