How to Encourage Brand Loyalty with a Dynamite Customer Experience
How many times have you heard that the future is all about customer care; and how often have you wondered if you are doing right? Customer care may be one of the most important things you master in your quest to grow your business, and also one of the most complicated.
Between customer expectations and communications in the age of social media, customer care can seem daunting and the landscape ever-changing. We’ve simplified the rules of customer care with our go-to guide. Read on to find out everything you need to know about improving your customer care program today.
What is customer care?
Customer care often seems like a self-explanatory concept, but looks can be deceiving.
While most business leaders know what customer care is, it turns out that many companies don’t truly understand customer engagement. In fact, 80% of companies are confident their customer engagement strategies are paying off while just 8% of customers agree.
For those responsible for customer care, that’s a serious miscommunication, and if you don’t know your customers are dissatisfied, you will lose them without ever knowing why. According to HuffPost, 66% of customers have actually left companies behind because of bad service.
This is why more and more companies have made customer experience a major priority. But what is it? Customer care is about more than just service, it’s about establishing a relationship, not just a one-time connection, with your customers. This defines the difference between customer service and customer experience, and more often than not, it will encourage brand loyalty
5 ways customer service has changed
While many companies have every intention of keeping their customers happy, they are failing because they haven’t updated their efforts to keep pace with way customers do business in the digital age. Customers are engaging in ways we never imagined at a speed we didn’t think possible.
Here are five ways that customer care has changed and how you can adapt to meet your customers where they are.
1. Customers expect omni-channel support
Customers are used to interacting with everyone they know at a moment’s notice. Whether it’s via phone, text, email or social media, customers expect the same omni-channel response from companies that they receive in their personal lives. Customers want to engage with companies through their preferred channels, not the other way around.
But in this time of an expected response that is timely and in a customer’s preferred communication channel, you must treat each request, and therefore every channel, with equal priority. According to the Aberdeen Group, businesses that were consistent with their customer support across every channel retained 89% of their customers.
Those that didn’t were only able to retain 33%. Treating each customer as a priority can be a challenge.
Later on, we’ll discover ways to engage customers with a dedicated team.
2. Digital communication is the norm
Long gone are the days when customers would air their grievances via paper and pen, sent through the mail. Some of your customers (think Millennials) may not even believe that regular mail was ever a major channel.
Among other things, the ubiquity of digital communications now means that it’s easier than ever for customers to complain. And thanks to social media, it’s also easier than ever for those complaints to be heard far and wide.
Today, if you’re not fully leveraging digital communication, a complaint can do the same harm multiple times over before you ever get a hold of the aggrieved customer. As scary as that can be for corporations today, the ability to hear and respond to complaints can become your greatest asset by responding quickly and appropriately.
3. Two-way communication is essential
In any healthy relationship, communication is key. This is just as true with the relationship your company has with its customers.
More than anything, most customers want to be heard and validated. Even when you provide omni-channel support and make the most of digital communications, if you talk to your customers instead of with them, you can’t expect very productive conversations.
This means taking the time to respond human to human and addressing their feelings as well as their concerns.
4. Customers have trust issues
Speaking of relationships, many customers have trust issues. Based on years of failed complaints with companies just like yours, customers have grown cynical, with lowered expectations.
Whether they feel manipulated by advertising or undervalued in their concerns, customers are less likely to make a human connection with a company than ever before.
The only way to overcome these predisposed attitudes is to show them that your brand isn’t like all the rest, and you do that by creating an experience.
5. Social media is 24/7
The invention of social media means that anyone, anywhere can complain about your company and have their complaint heard by millions.
In case you were wondering if that was just a trend, customer complaints on social media are actually on the rise. A particularly vicious complaint, and especially a lacking response is definitely not the way you want to go viral.
You can’t encourage brand loyalty if you aren’t staying on top of this threat by monitoring your social media accounts and using social listening to hear what people are saying when it’s not directed toward your business. Be the human voice that responds and lead the public opinion in your favor.
Top things your customers crave
Aside from your product or service, customers are looking for a relationship when engaging with a brand. They actually love to identify closely with a brand. It shows what they like, who they are and how they express themselves. So, while engaging with customers, keep in mind the following four things that customers really, really want from you.
Provide them and you can safely assume your customer engagement efforts will start paying dividends.
1. An actual response
It really is the little things that mean the most to customers. Yet, 55% of customer complaints on social media go unanswered. If you don’t respond to a complaint, your customer experience has automatically failed.
Something that may not have been that big of a deal might now snowball into a major problem. As customer service professionals, sometimes we want to ignore complaints and hope they go away, but the absence of a response is the still a response, and the worst one possible.
2. A human connection
We’ve all been on the receiving end of a robotic voice telling us, “Your call is important to us,” and yet it feels like the opposite. With all this talk about digital support, the human connection can get lost. As much as technology can help us reach customers, people make the difference.
Believe it or not, even Millennials prefer human interaction over digital services, and technology can’t create the true connection that customers crave. The solution? Hire a team of educated and compassionate customer care reps that can build your brand through positive customer interactions.
3. Empathy first, then information
As much as information can help solve a problem, it can’t make people feel cared about, and it won’t convey the empathy that customers are seeking. After connection and validation, that’s the time to provide the information. Even if your information is spot-on, it will fall on deaf ears if your customer doesn’t feel like you listened to them first.
4. The opportunity to be heard
Of course, true customer engagement can never happen if you don’t give customers the chance to be heard. Sometimes customers need to let you know what their experience is like. Just the action of listening is more important than any information you can provide.
How to build an amazing customer experience – Encourage brand loyalty
So how do you apply all these principles to your customers, your brand and your customer engagement strategy? It starts with building your team with the right people. Find out how to build an amazing customer experience that will create brand ambassadors.
Hire the right people and take care of them
You can’t provide the right human connection without the right humans. Actively recruit, hire, train and engage team members to make sure they’re happy. By giving them what they need in their careers and work environment, you’ll ensure that they are ready and able to care for your customers.
Understand your customers
You also won’t be able to engage your customers if you don’t understand their needs. This means learning about their goals, pain points, and potential issues long before the first conversation. Do the research and train employees to respond appropriately so when complaints surface, a resolution is quick and easy.
Ask for feedback
No one likes to hear complaints. However, listening to those complaints is the best opportunity to address and resolve them. When others see how you’ve taken the time to not only respond to feedback but address it correctly, it will boost your brand and solidify customer loyalty.
It’s a fact that 42% of customers who complain to a company on social media expect a response within one hour. How does your current response time measure up? The longer you take, the longer they have to tell the rest of the world why they’re not happy. Responding quickly can have a huge effect on customer satisfaction.
Make the experience as effortless as possible
The number-one most important reason for customer loyalty is a reduction of effort. For many customers, the experience they feel will determine if they keep coming back. Make your customer experience an effortless one and you’ll feel their appreciation.
A good customer experience turns critics into your biggest fans
There are a number of reasons it pays to work on improving your customer experience, but here’s one that every business owner can be excited about: free brand advocates.
When you respond quickly, appropriately and with compassion, your critics will be so impressed that they will not only give you another chance, they’ll be telling their friends about how you addressed the problem.
Now that is the kind of viral attention you’re seeking. Look at your customer experience as an extension of your marketing, because if you’re successful, even the most stubborn critics can turn into your biggest promoters.
To sum it all up, you want to create a customer experience environment that will encourage brand loyalty.
The benefits of using an offshore customer service solution
There are several ways to build out your customer service team. For some companies, an in-house team makes sense, but the time, budget and resources necessary to build such a team can overwhelm core competencies.
A shared service center is one way that companies overcome the cost hurdle of an in-house team but can still demand resources, while losing control of the process. Because of this, many companies are turning to an outsourced team, which allows companies to save money and focus on core competencies while leaving the customer experience to the experts.
The main benefit of an offshore customer service solution is that you get the best of both worlds. You’ll pay about the same that you would for the service of a shared center, yet, you gain the individual attention of a dedicated provider.
With an outsourced call center, you’ll be able to provide training unique to your company and can realistically expect that they’ll provide the same type of customer experience your own in-house staff would.
Get an awesome customer experience with Personiv
By now, it should be clear that the customer experience you’re able to consistently provide is no small thing. Fortunately, Personiv can ensure it also doesn’t become a giant burden. We’re experts at providing the kinds of customer experiences people can’t help but talk about with others.
In fact, we count one of the top telecommunication companies in all of North America among our clients. Furthermore, we can even provide other important services like tech support, back office help, sales, and more.Turn your customers into big fans and, ultimately, grow your business.
And there you have it, follow these steps to encourage brand loyalty across all channels of communication.
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