Customer Engagement: Loyalty Strategy Essentials
| Published: June 16, 2011 | Comments
Today, almost any company I speak or work with is talking about focusing their organization on organic growth, which in their estimation is increasing the customer base while becoming more efficient in improving their processes and procedures. When talking about increasing the customer base:
It’s attracting new customers
and more importantly, selling additional services and products to existing customers
Why? Because depending on what books you read, it costs 10 to 20 times more to attract new customers than it does to market to existing customers.
Increasing Profitability through Organic Growth Depends on Successful Marketing
Today, successful marketing requires more precise segmentation and more targeted communication than ever before. What this means is very simple. You need to learn the hidden secrets of knowing your customers. This means you have got to get a unified and integrated customer view.
You need to pull together the customer data from all touch points and channels across your organization.
You have to create accurate customer segments using demographic, geographic, attitudinal, and behavioral data to group customers with similar attributes, needs and wants.
At the same time you have to understand that it’s not just demographics. It is understanding the customers perceptions and behaviors.
When Bank of America did its studies, it recognized that its customers were more diverse than they had ever been before. Unlike the past, age was no longer an accurate way to predict the customer’s financial service needs.
For example, they found two customers who were both45-year-old males, one customer’s daughter was graduating from high school and he needed to create a way to finance her college tuition.
On the other hand, the second customer who was in a second marriage was celebrating the birth of his son, and wanted to start a college savings plan. Both customers were the same age but at very different life stages, and their financial services needs were at opposite ends of the spectrum.
This is why it is important for any organization who serves a wide range of customers to:
Regularly survey their customers
Gather data directly from their customers
Pull information from all customer touch points, in what I’m going to call “Voice of the Customer” program.The “Voice of the
Customer” can take on many flavors
One-on-one Interviews w/high profile customers
I personally always recommend the personal interaction where you can really detect the emotions behind the words. Cross sectional focus groups with some pointed questions are terrific.
What are the top three strengths of working with our organization?
What are the top three areas needing improvement?
What should this organization do so you would increase the business you do with us?
If you could give one message to the President / CEO of this organization, what would it be?
These questions when asked, generate a plethora of information.
I suggest you also use similar questions with your employees who handle various customer channels and touch points. And one question that can be bold and very enlightening to ask is:
What things are we doing now, that we need to stop doing?
This methodology is engaging your customers and leverages the information to develop innovative products focused on the customer needs. What happens when you meet customer needs? You drive up your customer satisfaction and your customer loyalty.
The important thing to remember here is that customer satisfaction and customer loyalty are driven by that positive customer experience, with every single touch point.
Research out of Harvard based on two industries,Telecommunications and Financial Services, has shown that customers fall into 4 categories.
Those who buy a lot and don’t talk about you or market you. (Affluents)
Those that don’t buy much but are very good sales people for you. (Advocates)
Those who do both, buy a lot and are good advocates. (Champions)
Those who do neither (Misers)
Obviously the ones we want are our champions.
The research shows that if you offer referral incentives to the first group, purchase incentives to the 2nd group, and both to the last group, you will significantly improve your marketing investments as much as 12 fold.
The power here is to leverage word of mouth marketing – the most powerful marketing, rather than wasting valuable marketing dollars on big spenders who you want to spend slightly more, and overlooking the power of evangelists who don’t buy enough to seem important, you can get much higher rewards by nudging big spenders to make referrals and urging enthusiasts(evangelists) to buy more.
When customers are asked about the best customer experience they’ve ever had, the responses include:
I felt listened to.
The person had a direct interest in me, my situation and my needs.
The person I was working with cared more about me than they did their own personal interests.
The person followed up with me to ensure that I had an initial great experience, that my customer satisfaction levels were maintained and that I in fact would come back in the future and refer others in the future.
How can this be achieved?
Follow up with customers within a week,within 20 days, within 30 days – soon after – to ensure they are content and happy.
Next follow up within 3 to 6 months after to ensure they remain satisfied and everything is going well.
It is not just the initial interaction that works. It’s the follow up that counts. Once again, it is keeping customers engaged. It’s checking in 3 to 6 months later to ensure the person understands additional services and products that would benefit them and their needs. It’s anticipating their future needs.
When you start following up on a regular basis, the messages sent to the customer are:
We value you.
We appreciate your business.
The two most underutilized words in the English language,“Thank You,” play a big role with customers.
“Thank you for your business.”
“Thank you. We appreciate your business.”
“Thank you. We value your business.”
Think about the impact of a customer saying, thank you and an employee responding:
“No, thank you. We really appreciate your business.”
“It gives me / us great pleasure to service you, thank you.”
“We at ____ are all about providing a positive experience for you, our customers.”
“We at ___ are committed to meetin gour customers’ unique needs.”
This is what I call the “WOW Factor.” It is critical that you and every one of your people understand that each and every customer interaction communicates value. You, and every person in your organization need to express their value to customers through meaningful and timely value statements. Value statements are wonderful ways to “WOW” the customer.
"WOW" statements create positive customer experiences.
"WOW" statements create loyalty.
"WOW" statements bring in additional customers.
What are some other “WOW" Statements you’d like to see your people using?
What we are discussing here is customer retention and we all know how important that is. Instead of thinking about the initial interaction with that customer, you need to think in terms of customer lifetime value.Every interaction that you have with a customer should be done on the basis that their value to you is the total of all of the transactions that they will make in their lifetime. This way of thinking allows you to consider marketing approaches that will build long term relationships and loyalty with customers.
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