Imagine…Customers love you so much that they’ll tune out what your competitors do; other stores’ sales and specials just won’t matter much when your service is so spectacular. They know they can connect with you at any time, on any channel, using any device, and get a quick response and resolution--day or night. Whether it’s support for an order, advice on which product is best for them, delivery updates, and everything in-between, your customers trust that doing business with you will be fast and easy. Customers give you their business time and time again because the experience you deliver is consistent, even memorable.
It sounds great, doesn’t it? Head-over-heels affection and customer loyalty is something every business aspires to gain. If you’re looking for customer loyalty, here’s where to start.
Be Available…And Reliable
I’ll lead with an example. I recently heard about a trendy new pantry item from a friend. Fancy, artisanal olive oils to be exact. I immediately thought *how perfect* would this be as a Mother’s Day gift for my home-chef mother-in-law. So, my friend sent me a referral code, one of those give-to-get deals. At $10 off, it was worth getting. I added the gift to my cart, wrote a thoughtful gift message and detailed the delivery address, only to find out my referral code wasn’t working when I proceeded to checkout online. An error.
So, logically, I go looking for help. There’s no chat option on the website, I can’t find a phone number listed, and there’s only an email address as far as I can tell. Being the millennial that I am, I go message them on Instagram instead. Yep, after some time, I get a response saying the only customer service option available is to wait for a reply back by email. Wait, what year is it?!
On top of it all, I didn’t get a reply by email for three days. 3 DAYS. And guess what? You bet I had already gone elsewhere (a larger, curated food shopping and recipe website) to find and send another similar gift within the hour, which I’ll have you know, arrived on time for Mother’s Day.
One Lost Customer Means Many Lost Customers
A single lost customer in-the-now is one thing...But think about all of the potential lost future sales. Would I now refer them to someone else like my friend originally referred them to me? Nope. Would I bother with trying to purchase the item at a later date? Definitely not. Will my friend be motivated to repurchase her item when her referral code isn’t working? Debatable.
Increasingly, experiences are consumer-driven. I wanted exactly what I wanted right when I wanted it. That’s a mouthful, I know, but I couldn’t wait days for a reply by email, and, frankly, I shouldn’t have to. If I’m willing to spend an absurd amount of money on olive oils, I need immediate service and reassurance that they will arrive by a specified date. The reply on Instagram felt cold, too. There was no, “Oh I’m so sorry to hear that your referral code isn’t working. While we don’t have phone customer service yet, I will personally assist you right now. If you can send me an email with your email address and referral code, I’ll have an answer for you within one business day.” It was more along the lines of, “Send us an email and we’ll get back to you.”
I don’t want transactional service. I want you to build a relationship with me and keep my interest and keep me happy along the way. That begins by ensuring customer support is available and reachable on every channel that your customers use to interact with your business; ensure every agent can see the full customer journey too. This is, by definition, true omnichannel functionality. So, after speaking with a handful of friends and colleagues, we agreed that these four aspects of customer service ultimately drive feelings of availability and reliability, and thus help foster customer loyalty in the long-run:
- Easy to get in touch with
- Quick response time
- Efficient & effective resolution
- Personalized experience
The fourth one there brings us to my next point…
Create Real-Time, Personalized Experiences on Every Channel
A study found that 99% of marketers say that personalization positively impacts customer relationships. In addition, 92% of marketers also believe their prospects and customers expect a personalized experience -- up from 85% last year! If we as marketers (raise your hands) know that this is what our customers demand, and we ourselves expect this when acting as customers in our daily lives, what are IT departments doing in regards to implementing technology that can deliver on those expectations?
Figuring out the customer journey from a bird’s eye view, from intent to purchase to re-engagement, requires intelligent insight and data from every channel with which customers interact with your brand. Step one is ensuring your support teams are available and reliable. Step two is making sure they really understand your customers to create personalized experiences. If your technology and your agents can’t identify critical moments across each customer’s journey, how can they effectively meet that person with adequate support at every crucial moment?
You have to be able to deliver hyper-relevant, personalized messages at the right time on the right channel -- or you’ll lose customer interest fast. A Harris Poll survey found that 73% of consumers believe brands are failing to meet their expectations around personalized omnichannel experiences. So, clearly, even though marketers know what their customers want, brands are failing (painfully so) in delivering those memorable experiences.
You can’t be available and reliable 24/7 only to treat your customers like a ticket number or, on the flip side, treat your customers like individuals with tailored messages and responses only to then be unavailable. Today, you truly have to be “the whole package” by offering timely, personalized, and relevant messages and support on the right channel at the right time.
Customer Loyalty Requires an Omnichannel CX Strategy
Let’s be honest, the more marketers keep talking about “uncertain times”, the more your customers will want to know how just easy and reliable you are to do business with. The last thing we all need is more “uncertainty”.
And we’ve said it before: if you make it possible for your customers to do less, they will love you more. Omnichannel is a critical component of lessening customer effort and therefore boosting customer loyalty. A truly omnichannel platform can deliver on all three of the aforementioned things: availability, reliability, and personalization (plus a whole lot more).
Your omnichannel strategy should be end-to-end -- and not end there. Guide your customers along, offer advice, give support, be proactive in determining when they may need assistance in the future, and don't forget to stay in touch with personalized messaging.
Think holistically, empower your contact center with an omnichannel platform, and take a deeper dive into the customer experience you deliver by trying it out yourself. Do business with your company. Then ask yourself: would you be loyal to your brand?