Today is the last day ofInternational Customer Loyalty Month and a good reminder to focus on what should be critical priorities all year long: delighting customers, and building and sustaining loyalty. In the spirit of fostering customer loyalty, and before the month draws to a close today, here are five tips for creating a first-rate customer experience that helps drive repeat purchases and positive word-of-mouth.
1. Define what a good customer experience looks like for your company.
This may sound obvious, but it's an often-overlooked first step. And while you can get generic attributes and tips from a book, you'll want to base business decisions around customer experience measures that are specific to - and make sense for - your brand.
So put yourself in the shoes of your customers, and fill in the blanks: "If I'm a [company name] customer, I'm having a good experience when ________." You can and should ask this question not only of employees (particularly customer-facing ones), but of customers as well,getting their feedback on the primary qualities and tenets you've defined.
Keep these tenets in mind when introducing new programs across the organization, and look at those programs through a customer-centric lens: "Why are we doing this?" "How will it better serve our customers?"
2. Tap into tech for better visibility.
Customers' unprecedented and ubiquitous access to information has, in many ways, changed customer service expectations and buying processes in recent years. At the same time, maturing technology means that companies can benefit from more data about their customers too.
You often need to access and analyze a lot of data to prioritize interactions among customers. Rather than make this a manual, time-intensive and spreadsheet-laden process, you can use technology to help create a 360-degree view of the customer, efficiently analyzing all touchpoints in a relationship.
3. Ask your customers if they're happy.
Data alone won't tell you if your customers are happy; you have to ask. Making surveys a part of your process is an important means of getting feedback.
Surveys should be conducted continually and proactively, taking customers' pulse after various transactions. "How was the sales process?" "How was implementation?" "How effective was the support call?" "Was the workshop helpful?" And consider a yearly holistic survey as well to gain higher-level customer feedback about their satisfaction with you as a company, your products and services, and the ease of doing business with you. Be sure to ask your customers what's important to them and prioritize those items that are most meaningful.
Incentives can help drive survey participation and goodwill. You might enter respondents in a drawing for a tablet or choose an incentive that reflects the core values of your company. For example, at Brainshark, we're donating meals to Feeding America for every response to our annual survey.
4. Invest in the customer experience.
Adopting a customer-first business philosophy is so much more than just paying lip-service to the theme of customer centricity. More and more, companies are making significant investments that pay off, through the establishment of customer experience management teams. The purpose of these groups is to ensure customers are cared for proactively: through data monitoring, check-ins, community programs, helpful communications and much more.
It's important to get executive buy-in and solicit involvement from all levels of the organization,pulling in representatives from various departments, and confirming their recurring participation and involvement.
5. Make it easy for customers to stay informed.
Many of us have scratched our heads when receiving product release notes or other longwinded and/or esoteric communications. (Trash/delete!) Befuddlement and frustration can easily breed disinterest.
Think about the type of information you'd want to consume, and make it easy-and even enjoyable-for your customers to get current on important product and company updates. Online video, for example, is a great format and something customers can consume in short, bite-sized segments. You can even track who's viewed what, to monitor engagement and assist in follow-up as necessary.
While Customer Loyalty Month is a good reminder to examine and/or implement customer experience strategies, it's important to keep a sustained focus on the customer the whole year through. By adopting a customer-first philosophy and having the tenets permeate your organization from the top down, you can create and sustain loyalty, and help drive greater business success.