With the premium placed on customer experience at an all-time high, an unforgettable pleasant experience with your company is one sure way to boost customer retention. Customers are more likely to relay remarkable experiences they have with companies to their friends and family. This implies that every single contact from a customer, be it a phone call, an email, or a tweet, requesting information or after-sales support, is a unique opportunity for you to positively influence their perception of your brand.
As Sam Walton put it, “There is only one boss – the customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the Chairman on down, simply by spending money somewhere else.” In order to ensure that customers keep spending their money on your products and services even when presented with other compelling and cheaper options from competitors, it is prudent to rethink your approach to customer service delivery. Let us consider four ways to earn your customer’s loyalty using great customer experience.
- Be personal with customers: Let’s face it. Bureaucracy is boring. Giving straitjacket, extremely formal, and pre-written scripts out to customers as answers to their queries will most likely hurt your brand reputation. Customers want to speak to real people because they feel they are more likely to relate and empathize with them. A friend of mine, Kojo, shared an experience he had when he spoke to a contact center agent last week. He told me that from the way the agent spoke to him, it might have been better if the agent had played back a pre-recorded message instead. He had a lot of questions to ask but felt the agent was in a hurry to go grab a bite so he just thanked her and ended the call. A similar experience Kojo has had with this service provider has robbed him of any attachment he could feel towards them. Customers care more about the quality of their experience than the service being delivered because there are numerous alternatives on the market. If Kojo is presented with a slightly better alternative, he will most likely ditch his current service provider on a whim.
- Take customer feedback and suggestions seriously and revise your offerings: To quote Steve Jobs, “A lot of times, customers do not know what they want until you show it to them”. While this may be true, in most cases, customers actually do know exactly what they want. End-users can be an amazing, cost-free source of extremely valuable feedback that can be baked into future iterations of your products and services. Pay attention to the comments that customers pass on social media and the “unsolicited” suggestions they give you when they call your contact center. If current customers feel you care about their experience more than your profit, it will be very difficult for them to switch to a competitor. They are likely to endure quirks in your offerings only because they are confident that once they complain, you will quickly move to resolve them. They may even be willing to spend a couple of cedis more on your product even if a competitor sells the same product for much less.
- Ensure that support personnel are very knowledgeable about your products and services: Ever spoken to a call center agent and wondered how they got their job? When support personnel doesn’t sound certain about the answers they’re giving to a customer, the little faith that customers have in their ability diminishes. When support personnel constantly put customers on hold in one conversation and refer to manuals, product documentation, and their superiors before giving answers, brand loyalty will most likely be an issue. Customers understand that products and services may not be perfect all the time. They can take that. But what they cannot take is a sub-standard after-sales support experience.
- Reward loyalty: Long-term users who have been using your products and services for years can become emotionally attached to your brand and become brand ambassadors. Companies can reward loyalty by offering long-standing customers discounts and exclusive access to new products and services they have created before rolling out, calling customers on their birthdays and providing them with branded paraphernalia, creating focus groups, and soliciting suggestions for future versions of product offerings. Once loyal customers feel like they are a part of your company, they will personally market your products and services to their friends and family, defend your brand when an ill-comment is passed on social media, and even volunteer to offer after-sales support services within their circles all at no charge.
So there you have it. When your customers feel delighted by the quality of service and support your company offers, they are more likely to be emotionally attached to your brand. This makes them more willing and committed to using your products and services over a long period of time. The resulting benefits are that you get shielded from the harsh realities of stiff competition and a dwindling customer base. You also get to grow your revenue by easily upselling and cross-selling to existing customers. What’s more, existing customers will help grow your customer base by augmenting your marketing efforts.