In the frenetic and constantly changing commercial world, it can be difficult to distinguish between business jargon and the strategic concepts that underpin a sustainable venture. The so-called ‘consumer experience’ is definitely an example of the latter, as this refers to the quality of interaction between brands and their customers and requires careful management if it is to drive long-term loyalty.

There are many reasons why delivering a positive consumer experience is more important than ever before, with Google’s drive to create organic and relevant SERP’s one of the most prominent. There are wider concerns too, with rising public debt in developed economies creating an uncertain climate for businesses. The UK national debt currently stands at £1. 6 trillion, for example, and is growing at a rate of £5,170 per second.

When you consider these factors in unison, it is clear that business-owners must look to enhance the experience that they offer to their customers if they are to compete aggressively, steal a march on rival firms and build brand loyalty. This can be achieved through the following ways.

Here are 3 simple and cost-effective steps to improve the consumer experience:

Embrace contactless payment solutions

In terms of basic operational measures, this is arguably the most effective way of improving the consumer experience in 2015. This simply meets a rising consumer need, as the latest industry figures confirm that Western economies processed more contactless payments in the first half of 2015 than during the whole of last year some £2.5 billion in total.

In addition to this, we have also seen contactless card payment limits increase as security concerns have been allayed. The emergence of real-time platforms such as Apple and Samsung Pay has also had a huge impact in the States, with contactless payments gradually superseding cash as the primary purchasing method.

In terms of cost, the new Visa Debit interchange fees will also reduce the cost of accepting such payments in the New Year. This means that businesses can offer an improved and seamless customer experience at the point of sale without impacting negatively on their margins.

Transform Customer Service into a proactive marketing tool

Whisper it quietly, but customers have become largely disengaged with traditional marketing and advertising efforts. Instead, recent data suggests that’s referrals from friends, colleagues and independent online review sites are favored by 90% of consumers when making a purchase, meaning that brands have been forced to think more creatively if they are to effectively reach customers and improve the overall consumer experience.

Increasingly, the utilization of customer service as a proactive marketing tool is central to the accomplishment of these goals. While it was once seen as a costly and reactive element of business strategy, proactive brands have understood that customer service connects them with consumers when they are at their most engaged. By speaking when they care and using their emotion to drive an improved and positive experience, you can satisfy your consumer base without additional investment.

As a starting point, you should consider eliminating classic customer service metrics such as call targets and time limits when interacting with individual clients. The Zappos brand has achieved this successfully, empowering representatives to communicate in depth with customers and take practical steps to improve their experience.

Deliver consistent consumer experiences across all channels

Consistency is central to successful marketing, and it is something that must be maintained across all channels and disciplines. This includes the customer experience, which must be underpinned by the same values and data-sets whether consumers interact with the brand online or in person.

Driving consistent data management processes and communication values is
particularly important, as this can reduce the repetition of work within your firm while also preventing customers from having to share their details on more than one occasion. To help you achieve this, you may want to consider investing in CRM software. There are different types of programs that can help you to create consistent marketing materials and data-sets, from software that collates high volumes of customer information to systems that organise and analyse this information.

Laura is a blogger and business marketer for Shift Insurance. She also writes regularly for Business 2 Community, covering topics such as business growth, marketing and blogging.

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