People gravitate toward companies because of their products and leave them because of their service.
Why is it then that so many companies under invest in this area? Research by Net Promoter Score inventor Fred Reichheld found that a mere five-percent increase in customer retention can boost company profitability by as much as 95 percent.
Most small businesses are keenly aware of the importance of customer retention—often because one lost customer can often make a huge financial impact on the company—and because of their size, they’re able to provide their customers personalized attention.
But what happens when a company begins to grow? How do they scale their customer service to help more people without losing the personal touch?
The Ritz Carlton opened in Boston in 1940, and revolutionized hospitality in America by creating a luxury hotel setting. Forty years later, they began to expand, keeping customer experience at the heart of their business by fulfilling not only the expressed but also the unexpressed wishes and needs of their customers. Now, not all of us mortals can deliver wow-factor service like the Ritz. (For $2,000 the hotel will give you a one-day course on how to deliver memorable customer service).
In today’s world of instant gratification, customers expect problems to be solved quickly and correctly the first time. For customers to remain loyal, they want a personalized experience that makes them feel as though they are a true priority—not just another sale.
If companies don’t provide personalized customer service, they’re setting themselves up for failure. Today’s consumers are more informed, less patient, and more mobile than ever.
Mattersight recently commissioned a study of more than 1,000 consumers and found that that one bad customer experience could stop 70 percent of them from purchasing from that brand again.
Companies that focus on creating hassle-free experiences are on the strongest path to loyalty and retention. As a starting point, this means having a better understanding of buyers, their lifestyles, and how they want to be served.
Rather than focusing on attracting new customers, companies should focus on the value of their existing customers by behaving as if losing a single customer will put them out of business.
It is easier to get existing customers to buy more and to help find new customers through their advocacy than it is for a business to try to garner new customers.
Happy customers are all alike: They become advocates—to one degree or another.
Because it’s a lifecycle, nothing ends here; instead, advocates help recruit the next wave of new customers through word of mouth, or on social media—and better yet, they buy more.
Customer advocates are the lifeblood of organizations: They bring new business, provide honest feedback, and speak on behalf of you to anyone that will listen.
Here are my top three tips for turning new customers into advocates:
Be responsive—always be responsive to customers. If you can’t respond immediately, let them know when you will get back to them.
Be accountable—if the product experienced an issue or if the business dropped the ball on a follow up item, take accountability for it.
Show value early—it’s not enough to just communicate to customers; businesses need to ensure customers are receiving value. If the customer isn’t getting value, determine what steps need to be taken to improve.
What sets a business apart is how they treat their customers. Attractive prices and range of quality products and services attract new customers, but it is only superior customer experience that will retain customers.
With so many companies providing competitive pricing for similar quality products, what sets a business apart is their ability to provide consistent and quality customer service and personalized transactions. This involves understanding the customer’s needs and then finding a way to deliver on those promises every time.
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.