Chevron CEO and Chairman John S. Watson recently noted, upon his retirement, “The sooner you learn about reading people, listening to others and building relationships, the sooner you will be more effective.”
And though Watson was referring to business relationships, this comment should be taken to heart by marketers regarding how they build relationships with customers.
Why Brands Need to Care
Social Media Today reported that “consumer service interactions via Twitter have increased 250% in the last few years and an estimated 67% of consumers now use social media networks to seek resolution for issues and 88% are less likely to buy from companies who leave complaints in social media unanswered.”
This is reiterated by the Deloitte study, The Growing Power of Consumers, in which it was noted, “To increase consumer trust, businesses must engage more closely with [the] consumer … When a consumer reaches out to a company for resolution they want rapid acknowledgement of their interaction and actionable assurance that the company will try to make things right.”
And, this is especially true for Millennials. Joe Gagnon, senior vice president and general manager of cloud solutions at Aspect Software commented, “…millennials are more ‘experience-loyal’ than ‘brand-loyal,’ …It’s imperative that businesses adapt their customer service strategies to deliver an interaction strategy that addresses millennial engagement preferences.”
Key point to remember: Businesses need to mitigate their risks by monitoring consumer communications. By putting in place the means to track consumer sentiment, companies can identify areas of concern. This is a case of “if you don’t know what’s broken you can’t fix it.”
Putting Caring into Action
Stitch Fix is a great example of getting it right in terms of a high quality customer experience. Their subscription shopping model depends on consumers trusting them to make clothing choices on their behalf. And, they make it a practice to quickly acknowledge any missteps. The company’s strategy includes these vital steps when things don’t go right for customers:
- Immediate acknowledgement at the point of pain.
- Personalized contact to make the consumer feels heard, thus rebuilding their trust.
- An actionable demonstration of relationship rebuilding and reinforcement of the brand promise
“… in building relationships with our clients and making sure our clients feel heard… and how the stylists and data science work together…is kind of symbolic of the way we work together and partner…so I think we’ve been able to create this amazing culture that is…a big driver of success…
The key takeaway from the Stitch Fix philosophy — from the top down– is that of relationship building. And, a total 360-degree understanding that in order to fix any issue the consumer needs to be assured that they are heard and understood. And in Stitch Fix’s case, that philosophy also builds trust.
To reinforce the point that brands need to care about consumer service, in a study by Wunderman, 79 percent of respondents said they only consider buying products from brands that show they care and understand their consumers. The study went on to note, “the data shows that brands now need to demonstrate their commitment to serving the consumer and exceeding their expectations every day.”
Key Point to Remember: Reputation risk is an issue that needs to be managed at every touch point.
In Conclusion: Brands need to understand that consumer service is everything, everyone, and everywhere a consumer has contact. The total experience, from start to finish and beyond, is what drives satisfaction. This is what builds longevity, repeat sales, and positive word of mouth recommendations.
And, when things go wrong, brands must understand that timely, honest and human response is essential. When a company dodges responsibility for a bad experience, it only serves to exacerbate and fuel an already aggravated and vocal consumer.