Today’s customers almost always expect to get what they want at the time they want it, despite The Rolling Stones hit, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” Technology allows consumers to browse, purchase, and obtain services around the clock and can provide with what seems like unlimited company and service options. Unfortunately for the companies, technology, negative customer experiences, and the ease of which negative word of mouth can spread with Web 2.0 are among the many ways that companies can now easily lose their customers. Companies must find an effective mean to hang on to their “all about me” customers.
As consumers have more options than ever to seek what they want when they want it, customer retention remains a strategic issue for companies. Research by the Strativity Group found that 95% of executives think that customer experience is the next competitive battleground, playing a massive role in customer retention. If customers feel that they are not receiving the service they deserve, companies risk losing them to competitors. Loyalty and repeat purchases from customers increasingly depend on the quality of service provided and whether he or she feels their opinions, desires, and attitudes are taken seriously by the company.
Negative experiences and the way they are handled play a big role for why a customer will leave a company. Research by Quality Digest found that people with poor product or service recollections share the negative experience with approximately nine acquaintances. Negative word of mouth spreads more easily now via Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. The online reach is much larger too, as many have hundreds of friends and followers. This, too, in the end could lead to companies losing their customers. Companies need to have a plan to effectively deal with the customers having negative experiences so they can find a way to retain them and solve the issue, rather than lose them. Let’s not forget another key reason to hold on tight: acquiring new customers can cost five times more than retaining current ones.
Feedback management initiatives enable companies to create a two-way dialogue with customers to find out how they feel about a product or service and what factors impact their decision-making process. Companies can best enhance customer experience, loyalty, and advocacy by first measuring it and then showing customers that their opinions count. Only by tracking individual “pain points” can companies change business processes to improve customer experience, enhance a product offering, or provide a personalized service that differentiates the company from its competitors.
Companies can design a feedback program to solicit customer feedback. The ideal program measures each customer’s experience within 24 hours of a customer’s interaction with the business. As the feedback relates to a specific, recent event, the customer’s experience is fresh in mind. With feedback management software, companies can turn the multi-channel environment into a highly-effective communication and marketing mechanism to help solve their problems.
Companies should close the loop with their customers with personalized invitations to provide feedback so customers understand what motivated the outreach. When a customer has a negative experience and explains why, the company can re-contact the customer to discuss the issue further to resolve it and prevent the same one from reoccurring. The customer will be pleasantly surprised and impressed that direct and immediate action is taken as a result of their feedback. Positive word of mouth is now triggered about the company. With customers aware their individual voices are heard, the feedback management program becomes a good way to keep negative word of mouth from spreading like wildfire, and ultimately, customers can be kept loyal to the company. If the customers are always right, then perhaps the world does revolve around them and it is imperative for companies to focus their efforts on retaining them, especially with the new challenges companies face.