Every business strives for customer loyalty, after all, it’s far easier to retain existing customers than it is to continuously acquire new customers. But customers today don’t have to be loyal. Across niche markets there are more choices than ever for consumers to select. Additionally, thanks to digital and social media, consumers also have more access to brands and brand information than ever before. If, for some reason, a consumer has a bad experience with a product purchased from a brand they’ve relied on for years, they can simply move on to an array of other competitive companies without sacrificing quality or convenience. Because consumers have an abundance of choice, they no longer feel the need to retain brand loyalty. However, they will continue to engage with those companies that go out of their way to support and show their appreciation for their service.
It’s true that more services and products are being purchased today without the help of human interaction. Thanks to mobile technology, customers can simply search for a desired service, browse the SERP, select a business, and make a purchase all without ever interacting with a brand representative. In many ways, this accessibility greatly eases the burdens of today’s companies. On the flip side, however, it also means that companies are missing out on opportunities to put a human touch on their brands. The more that consumers buy products and services in a silo – without communication or connection – the less in touch they feel with the brand. At that point, the brand essentially becomes a machine and doesn’t develop emotional resonance with customers. So, how can brands avoid this fate? By emphasizing human interactions through strong customer service practices brands have the opportunity to forge longer lasting emotional connections.
Listen To Your Customers
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One of the common customer service mistakes brands make all too often is speaking at customers instead of with them. Many view customer service as an opportunity to sell and upsell. And while it’s true, that providing stellar service often results in purchases, money shouldn’t be the only motivating factor. For example, think of the last time you walked into a store, told a sales person what you were looking for, and then had to spend the next ten minutes listening to them try to convince you to purchase another product or service. This scenario happens all too often – both on and offline – and it’s frustrating enough to convince people to walk out of a business’s doors and never look back. Really listening to customers is a skill and service many people take for granted because listening seems like a basic human skill. Brands have ample opportunities to show their customers that they really care about them by listening. By answering FAQ’s and embracing reviews, and then subsequently, making changes based on consistent feedback, organizations send people the message that their experience and input is not only considered, but deeply valued.
Offer Support Long After Their Purchase
Customer service cannot end at the time of purchase. If people feel that organizations only care about them in the moments leading up to a potential purchase, then you can bet they’ll never make another purchase. Sending follow-up emails to ask people how their experience has been following a purchase is a great (and easy) way of showing people that you’re dedicated to progressing your organizational offerings based on their experiences and opinions. Another great way to offer long-term support is through content. BlackMarket, a fitness supplement company, creates ongoing blog content with the primary intention of helping people through their fitness journeys – rather than simply selling more products. Our Life Covered is another brand that takes the well being of their customers seriously. Their content is designed to help people better understand their finances and their insurance options to ultimately improve the quality of life for themselves and their loved ones. There’s a reason why certain brands become iconic mainstays in their respective industries and others fade over time. And one of the factors that most shapes longevity is dedication to service. The Waldorf Astoria is one organization that has built a legacy of service. People return to the Waldorf over and over again – not because they love the rooms – but because they love the service. Everyone in the Waldorf’s staff makes it their mission to make people feel at home and, essentially, cared for before, during, and after their stay.
Caring for customers doesn’t require massive budgets or program overhauls, but it does require organizations to instill strong, people-first values that permeate every facet of the business. By simply listening and supporting customers at every stage of the purchasing cycle (even after they’ve already paid for services) brands can create identities known for customer care, and subsequently, can cultivate more loyal relationships.