Committing to Customer-Centricity

Amidst the rising global pandemic and economic crisis, brands continue to struggle with meeting consumer needs and are being forced into rethinking what customer care means. Evaluations of customer journeys and satisfaction metricst have given way to an acute urgency to address their specific needs. This has led to a devaluation of customer interactions, cancellations, payment deferrals, rate reduction requests, and generally lower consumer spending.

Digital transformation is amplifying customer-business touchpoints.  Organizations today are experiencing dramatically higher customer call volumes, despite the escalated waiting times. Answering queries like: “Why is my shipment delayed?” and “Where is my refund?”, businesses find themselves stuck in a never-ending cycle of trying to keep up with a high standard of customer service.

As the saying goes, the true character of a person is often revealed in bad times. Similarly, customers will remember which brands came through when they needed help, and which didn’t. According to a Microsoft study, 60% of customers stop doing business with a brand after one poor service experience. A dissatisfied customer is likely to complain about their experience to nine to fifteen people.

Especially during times of crises, every brand must empower their customer service personnel to deliver even higher levels of customer satisfaction, with 24/7 servicing options and increased employee engagement.   To deliver the ultimate customer experience (CX), it is important to recognize that your customers need to know that they “matter” and that they are regarded as “special.” They want to have a meaningful experience that gives them a good reason to return their business to your company.

Brands need to rethink their marketing strategies to make them more relevant or risk losing out. They have to accept that this is the new reality, and a thoughtful navigation is required to add value to consumers’ lives.

Here are a few quick tips to consider:

Respond Quickly

New York Times best-selling author, Dave Kerpen, once said “a brand not responding on Twitter is like hanging up the phone on customers with millions watching.” The connection between a brand  and its customers can be matured through something as simple as responding to an email or a social media comment. Your response is one of the most potent tools that can ignite the spark of brand loyalty among your customers. Both tone and speed should remain top priorities.

Keeping a friendly and empathic tone gives the impression of an inviting and understanding brand. Never delay your response. No one likes being on hold or to be kept waiting.  According to a Satmetrix Study, when trying to connect to a business online, 47% of customers expect a response within the first 24 hours. With time sensitivity in mind, many brands often opt for automated e-tools to reach customers within a short time frame.

Tip: Due to the lack of personalisation, automated response tools can’t substitute direct contact with a customer support manager. Make it a point to connect and follow up with your customers asap.

Take Accountability

Even with the most experienced entrepreneurs and staff, things can go wrong. Delays are expected when almost the entire world is dealing with social restrictions and work from home orders. When reaching out to irate customers, brands must recognize their mistakes and take accountability. Don’t be afraid to apologize. Offer the best solution you can, and do everything in your power to fix mistakes. Offer an exchange of product, if necessary. This will decrease the influence of negative experiences and  overall impression of a brand.

Tip: Cultivating a culture of accountability is what makes a good organization great, with loyal, satisfied customers and a spotless reputation.

Rethink Conversations

The most impactful way to achieve excellent customer service is to go above and beyond with your business and your customers. Get to know your customers every chance you get and encourage engagement and feedback. Surveys, reviews and conversations with your customers will not only provide constructive criticism but also offer new ideas for future marketing and promotional campaigns. Feedback, along with open communication,  is a two-way street. Accepting feedback and incorporating suggestions show that you’re listening and genuinely care about your customers. Online retail company, Zappos is known for its top-tier customer service. Discounts, free products, birthday treats and expedited shipping fees in case of delays and emergencies, they do it all!  From dogs barking to babies crying, employees are trained to take note of the smallest details during calls, as part of their manual market research to know their customers better and respond to their needs adequately.

Play the Long Game

Customers are the most important part of your business. The service and experience you provide can create a positive correlation between a successful brand and happy customers.  Investing in this critical area of sales and marketing can recoup customer acquisition costs with customer reviews and word of mouth serving as testimonials for potential clients.

Many brands often benchmark their products, services and practices against industry leaders to ensure that their standards meet with the highest customer approval. Competitive analysis is an essential part of any marketing strategy. Through analysis, not only will you be able to identify key areas for improvement, such as content creation, search engine optimization, and social media engagement, but you can also help establish your company’s presence with potential customers both online and offline.

Remember: The company may define its brand promise but ultimately it is the customer who decides whether or not the company delivers on the promise. Delivering a positive customer experience is not limited to hiring and training good people. You must give them the right tools to deliver a customer experience that not only meet their expectations but also keep them coming back. Be consistent and build your brand through satisfied customers and you’ll grow a strong, loyal following in no time.

Written by: Tanisha Khanna

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