By Natasha Bougourd
We all know that customers are essential to our businesses. Your returning customers will make up the bulk of your income, while you need to continually attract new ones.
Limiting your customer attrition is also important. Research from Accenture shows that 68% of customers who leave a business will not return. With this in mind, let’s discuss why connecting with your customers is essential to the success of your business and how you can do this effectively.
Why is customer experience so important?
Think about some good and bad experiences you’ve had with businesses. Which one did you continually return to? Did you stop doing business with the company whose customer service let you down?
The same goes for your customers. A good experience – whether that’s with your customer service team, self-service tasks online, or simply using your products or services easily – will create customer loyalty. A bad experience, on the other hand, could see you lose this customer. Not only does your customer experience affect your retention of customers but it can also impact your brand perception. You can use loyal customers and their testimonials as powerful marketing tools; but customers who’ve experienced difficulty with your business can have the opposite effect.
Someone who has had a bad experience with a business will tell on average, 9–15 people. In the age of online reviews, it’s also all too easy for them to splash this across your website, third-party review forums such as Tripadvisor, or on social media. Further research shows it takes 40 positive reviews to undo the effects of one negative one, so you can see why this is a concerning issue.
How can you deliver an outstanding customer experience?
Customer experience comes in a lot of forms. For many businesses, your customer services will have the most impact. If your team is difficult to get in touch with or they struggle to resolve your customers’ queries, this will impact their view of your business.
It doesn’t stop at your frontline staff though. Can your customers easily buy through your website, or does it involve a number of unnecessary steps? Are your products high quality, or will they break easily? Do you stay in touch regularly with your customers?
Below, we offer some tips on connecting with your customers to ensure a great experience.
Offer benefits that your customers want
Many businesses will offer benefits that they think customers want when in reality, they’re demanding something completely different. Free returns, if you’re an e-commerce business, is one of the most popular incentives for customers – 19% wouldn’t complete an online transaction if they weren’t offered it.
For businesses that offer services, use customer feedback to inform the benefits you offer. Hotels, for example, could see more bookings by offering free breakfasts if previous guests have fed this back. Don’t forget about promoting your add-on benefits, too – using an IPTV portal (an interactive interface)on the TV in your guests’ rooms will allow you to promote your benefits, as well as the additional paid products and services you offer, giving you the opportunity to generate more revenue.
Give your customers different options
If your customers need to contact you, don’t use a one-size-fits-all approach. In the digital era, many businesses are replacing human customer service representatives for chatbots. Although this can be an effective strategy, it’s important to ensure your customers can contact you in their preferred way. Half of UK consumers prefer to interact with a human over a chatbot.
Research shows that, while at their lowest level ever, phone calls with live agents are still the most common form of interaction, accounting for two-thirds of inbound enquiries. So, while businesses are implementing digital contact methods, it’s important to not do this at the expense of more traditional forms of contact.
Offer incentives for loyal customers
Your loyal and returning customers are the lifeblood of your business. Their experience matters, so it’s vital to keep them happy. By offering tailored incentives – whether that’s money off their next order, free delivery, or complementary services – you can show them how valued they are.
What’s more, you can also take this a step further and offer rewards or incentives in return for a positive review, testimonial, or case study. 90% of people will trust a brand if it has been recommended, even by strangers, so this type of marketing is very powerful.
Check in with your customers regularly
Checking in with your customers, whether or not they’re actively purchasing, will show that you care about them. There is a fine line to walk, however. While personalised email marketing, for example, can ensure your brand is always front of mind, irrelevant messaging can put people off. 28% of people would unsubscribe from a mailing list if they received irrelevant communications.
Don’t forget about the human touch either. Often, when a customer is thinking of switching suppliers, they won’t clue you in or discuss their concerns with you. If you keep in touch with them via regular review phone calls, you can identify any potential issues before they become unresolvable issues.
In the digital era, delivering an excellent customer experience is more important than ever. Poor reviews can ruin the reputation of your business. On the flip side, keeping your customers happy presents opportunities to attract new clients. Whether you’re a large or small business, taking on board these tips can see you improve your customer satisfaction.