Generally, companies face high churn and attrition due to their inability to form high-value relationship with customers. However, in today’s digital world, prospects and customers transmit thousands of indicators about what is important to them via tweets, posts, comments, reviews, and more. Finding insightful nuggets in all this data is central to establish deep relationships with customers. Aggregating all the information in one centralized system that allows more targeted, contextualized, and personalized interactions throughout every touchpoint makes this more possible. I discussed this previously in “Building Brand Loyalty: Expanding CRM to Create a Delightful Customer Experience.”
It is also important to cultivate a community of loyal customers and fans. This group is the most valuable because they provide valuable input and serve as advocates to others. We all know how important it is to build trust but most firms struggle with doing so. Customer do not typically trust brands but instead go to their peers for guidance. But if companies can build trust amongst a small group of customers, these individuals then bring in new prospects via word-of-mouth.
HubSpot mentioned 2 important facts that reinforce the point that firms should put great emphasis on building customer loyalty via delight. First, the White House Office of Consumer Affairs found that it costs businesses 6-7 times more to attract a new customer than to retain an existing one. Second, despite that fact, only 7% of consumers say that their service experiences exceeded their expectations. So how do you create customer delight?
Do the Basics Brilliantly
It’s hard to exceed expectations if the foundation isn’t set. It is natural for us to remember the bad so customers are much more likely to tell others about a negative experience with a company. Impact Branding and Design found that of customers that told 10 or more people about their experience, 48% of them shared negative stories while only 23% shared positive stories. That is more than double the bad! So companies must be certain that the promises made by their product or service are kept. Whatever need is being fulfilled by the company’s offering, should be satisfied prior to attempting to dazzle with something incremental.
In those cases where a customer does run into a problem, finding a resolution quickly and easily is required in order to build loyalty. Harvard Business Review found that trying to offer refunds or a free service to satisfy customer problems only marginally improved their perception. However, a prompt acknowledgement of the problem and removing obstacles to reduce the amount of work a customer must undergo to get a solution had a larger impact on loyalty. Things such as contacting company multiple times, being transferred multiple times, repeating information, and having to switch service channels are all things customers resent and should be eliminated. Monitoring social media is a great way to quickly address customer service complaints, own up to the issue, and keep the customer updated on a solution.
Beyond the Basics: Solve More Problems
With the foundation sent, companies can begin to seek opportunities to go above and beyond the sale. Surprise surprise, these opportunities typically exist around helping customers solve problems:
- Tools to diagnose problems. Provide your prospects with a free tool that will help them diagnose a problem. But do not give away the solution. Think of things a buyer may need even before getting to your offering. A good example of this is HubSpot’s Website Grader. It is a free tool that quickly analyzes a website on over 30 factors and provides a score between 1 and 100. It points out areas that need improvements and makes recommendations for next steps.
- Educational material to solve problems or get more from purchase. Things such as webinars, training guides, and how to blogs or videos can help customers get the most out of their purchase. Build things that will make their life easier even outside of your product. It makes customers more dependent and the company irreplaceable. Starbucks has been able to do this with their free app that makes purchasing their products easy such as ordering ahead and skipping the lines.v It also automates their loyalty program with free products. Starbucks also created the Book a Meeting add-in for Outlook that enables customers to schedule a coffee meeting and order ahead.
- Complimentary offerings that increase value of purchase. By monitoring customers, companies gain insight into their interests and desires. Look for things they will enjoy and send them a sample or trial. Maybe there is a product they haven’t tried but should or a premium version that can be upgraded for free or for a discount. The recipient is very likely to talk about it with others. Kind Bar typically does this by sending their social media followers new products trials or bars that can help a customer if having a bad day or to share with others. More examples of how to do this can be found at 10 Tactics For Increasing Your Customer Lifetime Value and Loyalty.
- Do it all in a way that is personalized and human. This requires active listening and understanding via the CRM system. Seek real-life customer experience interactions, problems and successes for key information that can prompt actions that create customer value. It may be changes in a product offering, how a customer is engaged or what content is developed and published. Featuring fans in your content is a great way to do this. Sharing social media posts from those that have said something positive and tell them how much you appreciate them. NYX features its fans in the majority of its promoted content and has been able to build a strong community of loyalists. They are a great case study for using customer advocacy.
To sum it up, a company’s main goal is to solve a customer’s problem so that is by doing the basics properly, solving pain points that may occur through interactions, and providing additional education, recommendations, or other ways to help above what is expected. Combining all the above is sure to delight your customers, build trust and create loyal brand promoters. It is less costly to retain customers and evangelizing them increases revenues even further.