Published: June 18, 2014 | Comments
The landscape of customer loyalty has been re-contoured! Customers get terrific service in pockets of their life and use those experiences to judge everyone else. Customers also have more choices than ever before and therefore are forced to use their service experience as a key gauge of product and service excellence. Today’s customers are much smarter buyers. Social media has made every person Consumers Report. Figuring out how to retain customers today is no simple task. However, below are five key loyalty drivers that fit most customers most of the time for most services.
Understand Me—I Change All The Time
Customers want a demonstration that you know and understand them. Contact centers win when the screen is instantly populated with all you know about the customer, including personal information picked up from the last contact. It means if a customer is transferred all that data goes with them making it unnecessary for the customer to repeat anything. It means positioning every customer contact person as a vital listening post—a scout able to gather valuable intelligence about customer’s every changing requirements as well as provide early warning about customer issues. And, it involves installing a wide range of tools for customer intelligence gathering.
Include Me—Make Me Your Partner
Customers’ loyalty soars when they discover they can be active participants in the service experience. It involves giving customers choices. Why can’t customers select what they want to hear if a wait on the phone is required? When Myers Park Hardware store in Charlotte was overwhelmed with customers seeking supplies after Hurricane Hugo, the store turned to loyal customers to run cash registers and help load items in customer’s vehicles. Customers will care when given a chance to share. Give your customers an opportunity to put “skin in the game.”
Teach Me—Help Me Keep Up
A large customer contact center elected to alter their closing question: “Is there anything else I can help you with?” They realized as a closed question it subtly signaled to customer that the conversation was essentially over since it was lengthening call handle time. Unfortunately, it was also trashing first contact resolution scores since customers, encouraged to end the first call, had to call back if they had another issue. They changed the closing question to: “What can I help you learn more about today?” CSAT scores soared, as did first contact resolution scores. Customers value organizations that help them grow. Make every contact center rep a mentor to customers.
Protect Me--From Anxiety and Effort
A value proposition includes the product (or outcome for non-object selling companies), the price, and the experience involved in getting the product or outcome. These “givens” like the air we breathe—taken for granted unless removed. We assume banks will be safe and hospitals clean. These “taken for granted” attributes are service air. Customers are loyal to organizations that know ride herd on making sure the basics are always done perfectly. And, today effortless is one of those basics. Customers are today far less tolerant of wait time, processes that only benefit the organization, and broken promises. Take an empathy walk through your customer’s experience and notice all the places on their journey where effort can be eliminated or minimized.
Surprise Me—It Tells Me You Care
Today’s customers want sparkly and glitter; a cherry on top of everything. They want all their senses stimulated. Features have become far more titillating than function; extras more valued than the core offering. It means attracting customer loyalty today requires viewing customer service as an attraction. Think of the service experience like Cracker Jacks. What can be your “free prize inside?” Sewell Lexus dealership in Dallas programs in your radio stations from your trade-in and lets you discover it. Look for simple ways to treat customers like today is their birthday!
Loyal customers act as a volunteer sales force; championing you to others at home, work, in social circles – and even around the globe via recommendations on social media. And because they feel committed to you and see both emotional and business value in the relationship, they will typically pay more for what they get from you…because they are convinced it is worth it. The formula for creating and sustaining customer loyalty comes through understanding, inclusion, learning, trust, and joy. Put these five features in your customers’ experiences and watch their admiration soar right along with your bottom line!