If you want loyal customers, offering quality products at a fair price just isn’t enough. Today, competitors are just a Google search away, and it’s easier than ever to switch brands for the next best thing. So how do companies get and keep customers when there are so many options? These days, companies that understand their customers’ needs and treat them like actual humans tend to reap the rewards. Not only do they see higher engagement, but their customers act as brand advocates who promote their products and services widely.
Building that level of customer loyalty isn’t always simple though. Modern customers expect you to “get” them and cater to their ever-increasing expectations. And that’s no small feat. McKinsey found that individual customer interactions, no matter how positive, don’t build lasting loyalty. Customers want consistent, quality experiences from brands, no matter the time or place. When companies hit the mark, their hard work pays off. By increasing customer satisfaction by 20%, companies can increase their revenue by up to 15% and lower the cost of serving customers.
So how do you identify your customers’ needs, meet their expectations, and then deliver experiences that drive customer loyalty? In this post, we’ll look at four simple ways companies can better connect with their customers in the age of endless options.
Meeting Modern Customer Expectations
Without steady input from your customers, it’s practically impossible to meet their needs. If you’re not sure how your customers feel about your brand, then you can’t work toward a better customer experience. Here are four simple ways companies can stay on top of customer sentiment and deliver experiences that keep people coming back.
1. Choose the right channels.
Customer interactions aren’t limited to phone or email anymore—they can happen practically anytime, anywhere, on any device. Customers don’t want to jump through hoops to answer a simple question or wait till business hours to submit a request. With social customer service on the rise and personalized messaging the new norm, customers expect quick, convenient ways to contact companies. That means companies have to choose the right communication channels and provide quality experiences across all of them.
Why? Well, customers don’t distinguish between channels like companies do. If they have a negative experience over live chat, they won’t spend time justifying why it was bad or considering all the other positive support interactions they’ve had. They’ll just leave that experience with a slightly worse perception of the company. In order to avoid that, companies should implement quality checks across all communication channels and consistently measure and compare the experiences of each of them.
2. Ask for feedback proactively.
We often think of customer feedback as a reactive function—a customer speaks up about something and the company responds. But the companies that provide the best customer experiences usually go out of their way to ask customers for their opinions before there’s an issue. They add feedback forms to their websites, make it easy to contact support, and generally advertise the fact that they care about what their customers think. It’s a smart approach, since the majority of people won’t speak up if they’re unhappy with a company—they’ll just take their business elsewhere.
By seeking out customer feedback proactively, companies can catch issues they’d never hear about otherwise and uncover opportunities to connect with their customers more meaningfully. For example, many companies offer live chat on their sites to greet web visitors as they browse the site. By offering help from the get-go, the company gives potential customers a convenient channel to engage with them immediately. Instead of browsing then moving along, visitors might ask a question and end up chatting with an agent who earns their business.
3. Personalize your messaging and offers.
Nothing says “we don’t care about our customers” like impersonal, irrelevant messaging. Consumers hand over so much personal information these days, it’s only natural they expect some thoughtful offers in return. In fact, personalization is so important to consumers, they make serious buying decisions based on their experiences with brands:
77% of customers have shown greater loyalty, paid more, or referred people to a brand that offers a more personalized experience.
78% of customers will only follow up on an offer if it’s clearly personalized based on their preferences and purchase history.
It’s pretty clear that targeted content drives return business. Even the smallest details, like greeting customers by name in marketing emails, can make a big difference. And the better you get at personalizing your communications, the greater return you’ll see. Consumers are far more likely to jump on an offer if you explain how it meets their unique needs. Ultimately, people just enjoy feeling seen and known. Companies that put in the extra effort to acknowledge their customers as individuals will get ahead of the competitors who don’t.
4. Be consistent.
Earlier we touched on how important consistency is when it comes to the quality of your customer experience. This is a big one. No matter how great customer support is or how pretty that marketing email turned out, your efforts won’t yield much if customers aren’t seeing the same level of quality throughout their experiences with your brand. As McKinsey found, consistency is a major predictor of customer loyalty. Show customers that they can expect positive experiences with your company across channels, and they’ll continue coming back.
Here are some straightforward ways you can create a more consistent customer experience:
Focus on the mundane (but important) details. Purchase confirmations, billing notifications, contact forms, and self-service resources may not be the most exciting areas to focus on, but it’s details like these that can make all the difference to your customers. Companies often find that the simplest, most solvable issues, like a poorly-worded confirmation email, create a lot of unnecessary frustration for their customers. Once fixed, issues like these can make an incredible impact on customer satisfaction.
Strive for consistent branding everywhere. Any rebranding project can be cumbersome. Whether you’re redesigning the entire website or just refreshing your brand colors, it takes ages to update all your online and offline assets. It’s important to remember that potential customers aren’t the only audience members. Each time you tweak your look or update your messaging, current customers have to play catch-up. Make sure to communicate big changes to your customer base and rigorously update assets to keep your brand fresh.
Train your employees on your core values. No matter how much we automate pieces of the customer experience, employees will continue to play the most pivotal role. Human interactions easily outweigh digital interactions—a positive experience with the person on the other end of the line can have a tremendous impact on customer loyalty. As you expand departments and onboard new team members, it’s important to emphasize shared values that they can incorporate into their day-to-day. That’s what creates “trustworthy” brands that consumers truly respect.
Make sure your products and services seal the deal. Being consistent essentially means delivering on the promises you communicate. If you constantly tell your customers you’re a high-quality brand, then your products better walk the talk. If you promise the lowest prices out there, then you’d better slash price tags when competitors enter the race. It’s simple: show customers that they can trust you to be who you say you are.
Customers live chaotic, on-the-go lives full of noise and nonsense. Connect to them in the right place at the right time, and your message will carry a lot more weight. You can make massive improvements to your customer communications just by reevaluating your channels and asking customers for their input regularly. From there, it’s easier to stay on top of evolving customer expectations and deliver offers and experiences that keep people coming back.
When you create a consistent, positive customer experience, you give your customers a sense of security that encourages them to return again and again. They know what they’ll get from your brand, and they’re more likely to engage with you in the future, whether it’s sharing feedback or clicking through your latest offer. And lastly, never overlook the powerful act of treating customers like people. Companies stand out the most when they put in the effort to personalize their communications and interact with customers meaningfully.