Show your customers some love
As we head into Valentine’s Day weekend, let’s take a look at one of the most important relationships you’ll ever have as a business person — the relationship with your customers. Just like other kinds of relationships, this one requires great listening skills, clear communication, plenty of attention and appreciation, and of course, trust. If you win their hearts in these areas, you’ll see CX, customer satisfaction, retention, and other metrics increase. It’s simple; when you treat customers with genuine care, they feel the love and are motivated to give back in return (with repeat purchases, positive social sharing, and good, old fashioned word of mouth).
Long-lasting customer relationships demand the following:
- Active listening. What’s worse than a partner who doesn’t listen? Nothing. This is the starting point for a successful customer relationship because the listening needs to begin immediately in the “courting phase” (the marketing and sales cycle) and carry through to post-sale, support, and ongoing service. Without active listening, you likely won’t get to a sale at all. As you use surveys and other feedback channels to ask if needs are being bet, that data needs to be pushed forward to the next step in the journey, so that the experience can be tweaked to that individual’s needs. It also means building a “listening culture” into service and call centers, so that when agents have a customer on the line, the person feels “heard” rather than “herded” down a rigid call script or process.
- Two-way communication. The word inherently means “two way,” but it’s worth underscoring that the relationship is not just about you listening to them. You must also communicate back. For example, let them know how you plan to use their feedback. Tell them that a particular survey will directly influence an upcoming product or service innovation. Send or post updates that anonymously show how customer input affected a new initiative or commitment. This is the kind of dialogue that keeps customers engaged and interested in the brand. Consumers rated “transparency” as their second highest priority in the 2016 CX Trends Report, which proves that they expect to know what effect their input will have your products, services, and processes. It’s a give and take; when they feel engaged in a real conversation, they are inclined to share even more.
- Attention and appreciation. It can be tempting for some organizations to fixate on negative feedback and reviews. Some companies go into triage mode with triggers and alerts flying across systems, to agents and managers, with all eyes on the upset customer. Yes, complainers are going to get attention; this is given information. The point is not to ignore your happy ones in the process. This is an easy pitfall to avoid! Offer as much outreach to satisfied customers, so that they’re motivated to buy again sooner and serve as advocates. These are the people you want to use as references and case studies, and their value, is, well… invaluable. Consider building appreciation surveys to find out exactly why they love you and (in reference to the point above), promise to do even more of those things.
- Total trust. This one is easy. Customers fall in love with brands they trust because they know the experience will be positive every time. There’s no anxiety over whether they’re receiving real value and if they ever need help, they trust that it will arrive swiftly and effectively. As mentioned in my Worst CX Fails of 2015 blog, there’s nothing that will take a brand down faster than getting caught doing something shifty or downright dishonest. The VW “Diesel Dupe” won the dishonesty award last year and may never recover from its deceit. Build trust by practicing all three points above and by systematically reevaluating your value proposition, compared to that of your competitors, so that you earn the right to say, “We are the trusted choice.”