As one of the best places to do business in the world, Hong Kong is a paradise for buyers and sellers, producers and consumers. In general, Hong Kong customers are smart, savvy and know how to shop, and they instinctually know what good – and bad – customer experiences feel like.
But are these experiences being communicated back to brands and businesses? How can your company ensure your customers are enjoying the optimal experience?
These days, the customer experience is becoming increasingly important to businesses. Obviously, what the 'right' experience should look like varies between sectors and industries, as do the methods of quantifying experiences, but in all cases, the most valuable tool is customer feedback, gathered at multiple touchpoints.
To be clear, touchpoints are the places where customers interact with your brand – a retail shop, website, social media page, TV advertising spot, customer service hotline…there are many examples.
Specific to Hong Kong, loyalty cards, pop-up stores, and street promotion activities are also significant interaction points. Now, most brands gather customer feedback at one touchpoint or another, in the form of reviews, surveys, and so on; but the key to creating the perfect experience is to get this feedback at as many touchpoints as possible.
So how do you know if your customers are getting the best experience possible? Start by putting yourself in their shoes and 'becoming' a customer for your own business.
Shop for your products online or offline, contact customer service, attempt to resolve a tricky problem, make an email request – go on whatever journey your brand requires your customers to take.
Depending on your business, some touchpoints will be more significant to your customers than others – your company's Facebook page versus an instruction manual, for example – but every touchpoint is part of the customer experience chain, and a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
Tangible, visual touchpoints that keep your brand visible are important in the crowded Hong Kong marketplace, like eye-catching visual ads or a fun shopping mall promotion; but if your potential customers are encountering disengaged staff in your retail stores, then you still have work to do.
Once you've 'been your own customer', you should have a good idea about what your company's most important touchpoints are and where its strengths and weaknesses lie. To improve the customer experience, you will need the most customer feedback in these areas.
So, how do you maximise feedback at these touchpoints?
1. Ensure that your internal processes are streamlined by breaking down any silos – if one division is capturing valuable data but keeping it hidden away, the rest of the business cannot make use of it.
2. When gathering feedback, ask the right questions. Design surveys and questionnaires carefully. You don't always need to ask 'what did we do wrong?', but you should always ask 'how can we have done better?'
3. Gather feedback efficiently, succinctly, and in the appropriate manner to the touchpoint in question. For feedback on the look and feel of your website, a short e-questionnaire is probably sufficient. For customer complaints, a personal phone call from a manager to investigate should be more suitable.
4. Make sure you listen carefully and respond to this feedback. For instance, by making the appropriate changes to the business processes at the touchpoints and improving your customer's journey, you will not only demonstrate that the customer is important to you, you will improve the trustworthiness and reliability of your brand. And you can't put a price on that.
The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Hongkong Business. The author was not remunerated for this article.
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Lawrence Chia is the Chairman and CEO of the Hong Kong-listed Pico Far East Holdings (Pico Group) (SEHK: 752).