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Customer Experience

How exceptional customer service translates to the digital world

Smarter Writer
Smarter Team

The Smarter Team is made up of business and technology journalists who write to offer insights to small and medium businesses about technology, business know-how and emerging trends.

Smarter Writer
Smarter Team

The Smarter Team is made up of business and technology journalists who write to offer insights to small and medium businesses about technology, business know-how and emerging trends.

Finding – and keeping – your competitive edge as a business is a tricky affair. If you’ve made a recent pivot to online trade, the way you interact with your consumers has likely changed. But that doesn’t mean their experience of customer service shouldn’t be top of mind. Measuring customer satisfaction and ensuring consumers experience exceptional customer service should still be priorities. Here, we learn how one online business uses the advantages of digital technology to enhance its customer service.

Man types on laptop

Large corporations are beginning to see the value in creating an individual customer experience, but you don’t need to have the budget of the big players to implement this strategy. In fact, small businesses have the advantage of agility thanks to lower staff numbers, which helps them pivot quickly. You can do this on a modest budget with the vast array of tech at your disposal, or by offering superior customer care in a client-orientated field – even if you’re not seeing your customer face-to-face.

Create a passionate community

Harvest Box provides an exceptional customer experience without having to engage with customers in a store, and they’ve still managed to create a loyal community that furthers their growth. Offering subscription-based healthy snack packs, Harvest Box began life in 2010 when three friends – William, James and George – got fed up with the chips and chocolate usually on offer.

Sourcing the freshest ingredients from producers all around Australia, with a large number of mixes of nuts, dried fruit and seeds, Harvest Box allows its customers to rate their box, meaning about 50–60 combinations are created based solely on customer responses.

Co-founder William Cook says the more the business invests in the customer experience – by communication via email and streamlining the order process, as well as allowing customers to customise their mix and provide feedback via customer surveys – the easier it is to create a community that people want to be part of.

“We felt that having a weekly or fortnightly interaction with our customers, with the delivery of the box and email communication and online, creates an almost membership-style reaction with our customers. It’s a community rather than a one-off purchase that may or may not happen. I say it’s like crowdfunding – you sort of ‘crowd’ select what mixes work and what don’t. If it’s badly rated, it will be removed. Customers do have an impact.”

From listening to customers and creating highest-rated mixes based on reviews, Harvest Box procured retailers, including Coles, to stock their boxes. The data collected from their customer interaction had influenced the company’s growth. A positive customer experience that became a community helped Harvest Box expand their bottom line.

Customer experience 101

Harvest Box’s William Cook gives his top tips on creating a positive customer experience, beginning to end.

  1. Put yourself in the position of the customer. “Often a business will make a decision on what’s best for them, rather than what’s best for the customer. But you have to step back and see what’s worthwhile to the customer and what is rewarding for them.”
  2. Get customers involved. “With Harvest Box, customers are able to select their mixes better or rate their mixes so what arrives in their boxes is what they like. It’s more important than giving them all of our mixes and variety that we think they’ll like.”
  3. Ask questions via customer surveys. “We often ask our customers and our peers what they think before we go live.”
  4. Customers can dictate your profit. “To make it cost-effective, we made all our communication online. It’s the most effective but it’s the most wasted communication tool. It’s very easy for someone to delete an email. Our customers told us we were communicating with them too much, so we cut it down to once a week.”

This article was originally published on 11 February 2015 and updated on 11 June 2020.

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