Typically businesses assume that consumers are more inclined to air their complaints and dissatisfaction with a company rather than to shout their praises. Common assumption is that consumers will vent about recent poor service with a company over social media or directly to friends and family. However, Yonder Digital Group recently canvassed the opinions of 1,000 UK consumers and found that they will share both the good experiences as well as the bad ones on social media and/or with family and friends. This highlights the importance for businesses to put this generosity and goodwill to their favour and implement new strategies and encourage consumers to share their experiences.
Here are 5 steps to take to ensure your business is ticking all the right boxes to make customers loyal and shoutout/sing your praises.
1. It is not just about social media
Social media platforms are continuing to grow in popularity with Facebook being by far the most popular outlet with 1.5 billion active users worldwide. As social media becomes ingrained in people’s lives, it comes as no surprise that it is now also playing a significant role within consumers’ mentality. With almost 75% of all internet users in Europe using social media and 62% of those active on Facebook, means the time is now for businesses to recognise the importance of social media and to ensure that this channel is not brushed under the carpet.
If a business has invested time and money into managing their social media channels, typically it is to prevent their name being mentioned in an angry online rant. However, our latest research shows that businesses need to step it up when it comes to social media, as it could be a great channel for quality brand promotion. Customers are now sharing both good and bad experiences online and it is up to businesses to make it easier for them to praise a brand through different social channels, immediately transforming them into valuable brand ambassadors.
However, it could be a mistake to rely solely on social media; according to our research a far greater proportion of people report back to their friends and family about their good experiences (89%) than those who post about it on social media (38%). In fact our research shows that the proportion of people telling their friends and family about good experiences is consistent across all age groups therefore a proper understanding of the customer journey which is based on real customer data and behaviour is essential.
2. Foster loyalty
A loyalty scheme is considered an exchange of value – companies offer something which the customer deems to have worth (vouchers, redeemable points, special pricings etc.) and in turn customers provide key information about themselves enabling the business to analyse their interactions. However, it is fundamental that the consumer feels as though they are getting rewarded for continued spend with the business otherwise their loyalty will be lost. This does not have to be solely through a loyalty scheme; having an excellent customer service function set up within the business is just as effective as building brand loyalty. Engaging with this exchange of value not only equips a brand with the key information needed to retain their most profitable customers but will also position them to extend the existing relationship by flagging opportunities to cross-sell and upsell.
3. Know who you are talking to
It is up to the company to make sure that they responsibly use their customer’s data and continuously earn the right to use it. This means that businesses need to work towards offering a mix of contact channels, improve targeting of the communications they send, inform interactions and continue improving the service they provide, all to win the confidence and trust of their customers.
Customers are often quickly put off by generic targeting that fails to take into account previously stated preferred choices. According to inbound marketing company, Impact, 69% of consumers will unsubscribe from a company’s mailing list if they receive too many emails from the business. And recent research conducted by eMarketer confirms that 40% of consumers in the United States think receiving one email per week per brand is acceptable; however, the content of these emails must still be relevant to each individual consumer.
4. Offer channel choice
It is advisable that a business offers a range of channels for a consumer to use in order to get in touch with the company. Consumers today are connected 24/7 and typically use a range of touch-points to interact with a brand. These channels often span from email, to social media platforms, or even automated channels, such as online artificial-intelligence (AI) powered chatbots. However, it does not matter which channel the consumer chooses to use as they will expect any business to keep a seamless record of all their previous interactions. This means that customer service representatives must be equipped with access to a central repository of customer data in order to provide superior customer service.
5. Don’t underestimate human interaction
It is great to offer channel choice, but eliminating any option of live agents could have huge commercial repercussions. It makes sense for businesses to invest in digital tools to help reduce overall costs, speed up work processes and streamline the workforce; however automating the management of customer experience is not a great decision. According to our research 69% of consumers will take their business elsewhere if they can’t get through to a live agent when they have a problem or a query. This is not to say that technology does not offer value, however 84% of respondents will increase business with companies who offer the choice of both automated and live options for getting in touch. Therefore technology should be used to aid customer service representatives so they have the necessary tools to inform live conversations and be able to pull pertinent information about the customers to hand.
In conclusion, it is apparent that brands need to ensure that they are taking the right steps towards managing the customer journey in order to foster loyalty amongst existing customers. Customers are sharing both good and bad experiences and it is up to businesses to ensure they are doing what they can to make sure that they are encouraging their customers to share those positive experiences. Businesses that do not recognise the importance of experience sharing and fail to adjust their customer contact strategies accordingly – will be left behind by those that do.
Graham Ede, Yonder Digital Group
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