Why Great Customer Experience Begins with Loyalty
Great customer experience is what talks high of your company/ business and customer loyalty is what makes it a brand. Retaining your existing customers is as important as gaining new ones as they are real-time examples of your customer loyalty. Here we discuss all the factors that are required to boost customer loyalty and to win customers for life.
The key to running a successful business is customer retention. You want to ensure that the customers you’re bringing in are going to stick around. The key to keeping those customers from falling off is through the all-important customer experience.
It stands to reason that if you’re presenting your existing clientele with a positive experience and a product or service that accomplishes its goal, they will want to stick around. This can easily be applied to business as well as real life. If you have a great time hanging out with a certain friend, you’re going to make that friend a part of your life in the future.
Conversely, if you and that friend have a lot of friction, you’re going to fall out hard and stop talking to them. The same theory applies to the businesses that you deal with. Positive customer experiences breed loyalty, which in turn breeds retention.
But how important is loyalty in the grand scheme of things? Why should you worry about improving and maintaining the experience of existing customers when there are new clients to focus on?
Read on to find out.
How Important Is Customer Experience?
If you’re wondering what the big deal with customer experience is, prepare to be shocked when you see the numbers.
Customer experience is one of the largest factors that determine customer retention. It’s incredibly important that you keep your existing customers.
According to the Harvard Business Review, finding new customers costs anywhere between five and 25 times more than retention. That’s why you want to hold onto your customers while continuing to supplement that audience with new business.
In short, your returning customers are your bread and butter and could spell the difference between a company in the black and a company in the red.
How easy is it to lose your existing customers?
In fact, 89% of customers switch brands as a result of just one poor customer experience.
With these numbers at play, you can’t afford to constantly be replacing your audience due to poor customer experience. And this trend is not going to be changing anytime soon.
Customer experience could be even more important to buyers than pricing. American Express conducted a study in which they found that 60% of customers will pay more for better customer experience.
That makes experience the single largest threat to retention, which also makes it one of the most important aspects of your company to get right.
With costs rising up to 25 times for the acquisition of new customers, it makes sense to sink some money into improvements to customer experience and keep the customers that you have.
"It's the small things that make the biggest impact with your customers,” said Jessica Branson, the Chief Relationship Officer at Inspira Marketing. “By paying attention to the smallest detail, including remembering and acknowledging certain facts about each customer, your customers' impression of their experience will grow by leaps and bounds. Again, it can be something as simple as saying 'Thank you,' and you've delivered a customer experience unlike no other."
How to Create Loyalty Through Experience
Now that you know the importance of customer loyalty and how it corresponds to the overall customer experience, the question becomes how can you create that loyalty?
There are several key ways to inspire loyalty by instituting some much-needed improvements to the customer experience.
Start off by experimenting with some different tactics in the following areas.
The first thing that you want is a well-designed website. This will make it easier for customers to find you initially. It will also keep them coming back for more, as long as the experience of actually using the site is not cumbersome.
You’ll also want to have a responsive customer service department to field questions and complaints in a quick, efficient, and pleasant manner. This is one of the more important aspects of creating loyalty. Nothing drives a customer away faster than poor customer service. With an intuitive helpdesk ticketing system, you can manage all your incoming support queries from a single window and provide consistent and quick customer support experience to your customers.
It’s also a great idea to have a detailed knowledge base on your site. This is a section with helpful articles that can educate the customer on a number of important frequently asked questions.
In today’s market, it never hurts to have a mobile application for your company. The internet is swinging toward mobile use, and embracing the times and making the entire shopping experience more seamless for the end-user is how you inspire loyalty.
Response time is essential to improving customer experience and generating increased loyalty. This is especially important with customer support inquiries.
Whenever possible you have to jump on customer engagement. A fast response could counteract customer disappointment.
One of the best ways to do this is through the use of an AI chatbot. These artificial intelligence platforms are able to handle a lot of the smaller issues plaguing your audience while freeing up human agents to address larger concerns.
Automation software can help isolate important issues and forward them along to the right representative, making the entire support experience easier.
You also will need to respond quickly to bad reviews. Customers who are sharing bad experiences online can be reasoned with if you act quickly and fix the problem that they were having.
Respond fast and own the negative press. It’s best to respond to negative customers both publicly and privately. Work quickly to correct their issue and then once everything is resolved to their satisfaction, see if they will agree to update their review and talk about how you were able to manage their problem.
Own Your Mistakes
There’s no room for defensive interactions with your customers. This can harden their hearts and kill loyalty quickly.
You can own your company’s mistakes by actively listening to customer issues.
It’s also always impressive when a company can be proactive in their approach to solving problems. If you know that there is an outage or some kind of issue with your service, proactively reaching out to your customers is a great way to get out in front of the issue before it has a chance to fester and negatively impact their experience.
If you reach out fast enough, the customer might not even know that a mistake was made and you can break the news and let them know how you are making it right.
The bottom line is, you have to show your customers that you care. Don’t try to deny fault, as that only ever makes the problem worse. Instead, own the issue and be apologetic. Remember, customers can be forgiving.
Forgiveness, however, must be earned and one of the best ways to earn the loyalty of your customers is to make your concern for their experience as authentic as possible.
Showing the customer that you value them goes a long way toward mending fences, and you can do that easily with your response to their inquiries and concerns.
Show your customers that they are more than walking wallets by having a genuine interest in them. Obviously, for some larger companies, this is quite difficult. But it can be easily managed with the use of a CRM system.
You can keep notes on your customers in the CRM and share them throughout the company. This will ensure that other departments will be up to date and not say or do something to jeopardize the future of that particular customer.
It’s a good idea to hold onto any data that they offer on their personal lives so that you can reference it in the future.
Remember, authenticity breeds loyalty.
Appeal to Emotions
Business is not a cold and unfeeling world like pop culture would have you believe. Emotions matter to the people behind the numbers and that’s why it is so important to create and maintain emotional connections with your customers.
Show sympathy for their circumstances and try to go above and beyond in order to show them that you care. For example, if a customer tells you that they recently had a death in the family, sending them a sympathy card on behalf of the company goes a long way toward showing that you value them as a person.
The importance of emotional connection cannot be overstated. The Journal of Consumer Research determined that over 50% of customer experience is based on emotions.
Not only that, but businesses that focus on the emotional connection have an 85% higher sales growth compared to major competitors.
If that’s not enough for you, it may better you to know that emotionally invested customers are three times more likely to re-purchase your product, meaning that emotional connection is the key to brand loyalty and retention.
Fred Reichheld of Bain & Co talked a bit about retention, describing the difference between profits and “bad profits.”
“Bad profits are those profits that are earned at the expense of the customer,” he said. “They’re doing things to customers that they wouldn’t want to be done to a loved one or to themselves. In so doing, these companies send a message to their employees that treating people ethically has nothing to do with what we care about as a management team. More companies need to realize that they can’t innovate and bring in the right kind of good people unless they get more serious about treating customers right and earning their loyalty.”
Another way to keep your customers happy and improve the customer experience is to reward them for their continued loyalty.
This can be achieved by offering exclusive deals and pricing on a limited time offer. You’re giving them something that new customers don’t get and that creates a feeling of exclusivity. It’s as if your company is some fancy club and they have a membership card that the common customer doesn’t get.
The offer or reward should be some form of monetary benefit, whether that be a discount, free shipping, additional services, or something else.
Let these customers understand that you appreciate them and they will continue to come back for more. Reward programs are another way to forge that all-important emotional connection that we spoke about earlier.
Referral rewards are also a fantastic way to build loyalty. If you’ve done a good job of building a sense of brand loyalty through stellar customer experience, your existing clients should be more than willing to recommend you to their friends and family members.
Plus, offering them something in return for their referral is a tremendous way to capitalize on loyalty while strengthening it. Referral rewards programs are a win-win situation. You gain new business while continuing to build the loyalty of your existing clientele.
While monetary gains are a great reward or incentive, they’re only a piece of the puzzle. According to a study, only 18% of customers were willing to change brand loyalty for a discount or coupon.
Continued brand loyalty is the foundation upon which profits are built. But to achieve that level of loyalty, companies need to invest in their overall customer experience.
Keep your customers happy and most of them will never look for an alternative brand. Make your brand a stress-free part of their lives and you will earn their unwavering loyalty and continued business.