Allow us to make a bold statement. We believe that customer experience can make or break your business regardless of how new or established it is. But what is customer experience and why is it so important?
In a nutshell, customer experience is the cumulative result of how your customers interact with your brand.
This includes every element and process where your customer might interact with your business like their visits to your brick-and-mortar store, their experience using your online shop and mobile application, their interaction with your social media channels, and more.
Why Do You Need to Improve Customers Experience?
Customer experience is critical because it creates an emotional connection between your brand and customer perception, both consciously and unconsciously.
More importantly, some emotional connections or associations can be hard to correct later on should your band happen to fall onto the negative side of things. To further prove our point, here are more reasons why you should prioritize improving your customer experience as soon as possible:
i. More Loyal Customers
The first reason is it encourages customers to repeat their experience with your brand. They won’t see any reason why they shouldn’t since they have enjoyed their interaction and experience with your brand so far.
ii. Decrease Customers Acquisition Costs
Having said that, you might not need to spend a lot on customer acquisition anymore since they will naturally gravitate towards your brand without further convincing.
iii. Customer Advocacy
Finally, they create customer advocatesーpeople who will later become the lifeblood of your business. They are not just repeated customers.
These are your business’ super fans. They will constantly recommend your brand, go out of their way to promote you, and can even decide to become a shareholder in the future. They are loyal to a fault and can even go as far as defending your brand from your critics.
Yes, customer experience can be pretty powerful. The question now is, how to improve yours?
Who Is Your Target Consumer?
The first thing that you need to do is to determine your target customer. Each customer is unique, but you can at least determine similarities between them by finding out the specific cluster of people that you dedicate your business to.
You can start by asking yourself the following questions:
- Who is your ideal customer?
- Do you have a particular gender in mind?
- How old are they?
- How much do they earn?
- How much would they likely spend on things?
- What is their taste?
It is always a good idea to invest in customer and marketing research, but don’t think that you can’t perform your own through keen observation both online and offline.
Build a Sales Funnel
Anyway, we can now move on and construct a sales funnel after getting acquainted with your target demographic.
A sales funnel is a strategy enforced to walk a customer through the entire sales process from initial product awareness to payment (and sometimes even fulfillment).
This can be done both online (through a well-designed landing page) or offline (through your shop’s layout and interior design).
Leveraging Brand Identity via Interior Design
Speaking of interior design, this is actually the aspect of customer experience that we would like to focus more on in this article.
1. Your Aesthetic Is an Extension of Your Brand
You need to decide on the aesthetic that you are going for before anything else. This will help in choosing color palettes and decorative elements later on.
Start by asking yourself how you want people to feel when they think about your brand. Is it comfort? Productivity? Elegance? You can then decide on the design aesthetic to go for based on it.
You can go for a cozy bohemian, traditional, or even mid-century style to remind customers of the comforts of home. Those who are centered on productivity (like the tech brand Apple) go for a minimalist look.
Finally, it depends on what kind of elegance you’re going for, but we usually find ourselves gravitating towards more contemporary styles especially when decorating retail stores to exemplify modern refinement.
2. Your Mission Statement Is Your Structure
To make your establishment look even more specific to what you want your customers to experience, then why don’t you base it on your mission statement?
Here is a good example. Starbucks’ motto is “to inspire and nurture the human spiritーone person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time”. This is the reason why Starbucks designs its shops to conform to the local community it is located in.
3. The Accessories You Choose to Speak Volumes
While it is easy to find yourself fussing over the main elements of your interior design such as the wall treatments, flooring, and color palette, we suggest placing special consideration with the smaller decorative details as well. Your customers will be interacting much closer to them, after all.
For instance, while open layouts certainly are an important element in achieving a contemporary aesthetic in interior design, laying out a contemporary carpet with geometric light fixtures will add the last touch that will tie your look together.
4. Good Lighting
Since we are already talking about light fixtures, it would be the perfect time to remind you of the role that ample lighting plays in your interior design and overall customer experience.
Keep in mind that bright lighting can make one more energetic and alert. It can also highlight the details of the products that you want to display as well as make one unaware of the passing of time.
On the other hand, you might want to use subdued ambient lighting for cafes where you want your customers to feel more cozy and relaxed.
They are said to improve one’s creativity too that can be potentially inviting for people who are involved in creative pursuits (such as writing or video editing) to spend more time within your space.
Don’t forget to consider the activities that you expect your clients to do whilst in your space. For instance, co-working establishments combine various lighting effects to better suit each area. Brighter lights are reserved for conference rooms while ambient lighting is sometimes utilized for creative and collaborative spaces.
5. Offer Experiences
Interior design does play a part in customer experience but it’s not the only aspect of your business that you can leverage towards giving your clients a better and memorable one.
You can also come up with actual experiences that can stimulate their senses. For instance, organizing poetry reading nights in your cafe can not only boost foot traffic but also sends out the message that you are a patron of the arts, making each interaction with your business all the more beneficial to the community.
Offering free makeover sessions don’t require you to organize an event or schedule in advance like the previous idea, but can equally create the same impact in a boutique or cosmetic retail shop, if not more.
6. The Return on the Investment
It is easy to get demotivated in making an effort towards customer experience since it does require quite an investment but think about its potential ROI.
A quote by Dan Kennedy, a top industry marketer, comes to mind. According to him “whoever can spend the most money to acquire a customer wins”. Now, most would think that this quote applies to marketing efforts alone, but for us, this encompasses customer experience as well.
Making your shop more inviting will attract more customers. Having a gracious and responsive staff will convince more people to repeat business even after a negative experience. Getting your website and social media channels to be more engaging towards online visitors can minimize losing potential paying customers.
For us, customer experience trumps marketing because it makes your brand speaks for itself.
7. The Power of Word of Mouth
Never underestimate the power of word of mouth. This doesn’t just apply to the act of a customer recommending your brand verbally to another person, but this also includes positive testimonials, user-generated content over social media, and actively participating in your referral programs.
Here’s a pro tip: Create an easy-to-remember hashtag that your customers can use to describe their experience with you.
Just make sure that you do back-it-up with stellar service if you don’t want it to backfire, much like how #McDStories became a PR nightmare when customers used it to share their negative experiences over positive ones.
Conclusion: How to influence customer experience with interior design
Customer experience is a factor that can make or break your brand. When done right, it can create more loyal customers, decrease marketing costs significantly, and even result in customer advocates.
There are various ways to improve customer experience, but there are three steps that can serve as a foundation that you can later build on.
First, you need to determine who your target customer is. Next, create a sales funnel that can drastically increase the likelihood of visitors (both online and offline) converting into paying customers. Finally, invest in your store’s interior design to reflect what your brand is all about.
This, in turn, will result in faster ROI and an increase in brand awareness and reputation both online and offline.
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Leila Amber is a Design Trend Setter at Knothome and a passionate writer, home decor, and design enthusiast. She has a keen interest in the content that inspires her to dig deeper into the practice and create helpful design and decor guides.