We all remember the disturbing 30-second video of a bloodied United Airlines passenger being dragged from his seat on an overbooked flight at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. The now infamous video attracted more than 6 million views in one day, sparked international outrage, and threatened to unravel more than a year of work by CEO Oscar Munoz to rebuild the airline’s battered customer service reputation. In the age of Customer 3.0, the damage this incident caused to United’s reputation could be irreversible—at least for some consumers.
“If United had crashed a plane, it would have been less of a PR disaster than this. It just looks so cruel, and inexplicable and arbitrary.”
Strong Relationships, Connecting with Customers Encourages Faster Growth
Mastering customer relationships is quickly becoming the holy grail for companies, and with good reason. In a global world where competition is often only a mouse click away, businesses must consistently work to provide high quality customer service and maintain positive customer relationships. Bain & Company have found that increasing customer retention rates by just 5% can lead to a profit increase of 25% to 95%!
As customers interact with businesses across multiple channels, businesses must find the best way to respond and meet their customers’ expectations. They need a customer-centric approach so their customers feel a connection to the business that fosters a long-lasting relationship and cultivates customer loyalty.
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
The Sale is Just the Beginning
Customer Experience (CE) expands the traditional Customer Service and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) activity to be anticipatory and proactive throughout the customer lifetime. To build strong customer relationships and brand loyalty, organizations must:
- Understand customers’ experience across all channels
- Identify opportunities to be proactive and preventive
- Create online communities to provide support, content, and engagement and gather ideas from the customer base
Empower Customer Service Teams
Customer-facing teams who speak to your audience on a daily basis are a source of insight. While listening is important, businesses must pay attention to what these teams are saying. Sales & marketing are no longer siloed, nor should customer service be. Online community platform provider, Get Satisfaction discovered that 71% of customers have stopped doing business with an organization due to bad customer service.
Supported, energized, and trained employees are key to providing a differentiated customer experience. Empower customer service teams by helping them act quickly. Increasingly, response time is becoming an important influencer of customer satisfaction. If someone reaches out to you, respond in a near real-time fashion—especially on social media. Even an hour or two delay can have a devastating impact on an organization. What could United Airlines have done differently?
Put the Customer First
Encourage customers to provide feedback about what’s going well, and not so well, with your products and services. If you can differentiate your brand on the basis of providing a consistently excellent customer experience, you’ll earn a lot of loyal customers and “customers for life”, as so few brands provide even an acceptable customer experience.
Listen to What Customers are Saying
Good or bad, customer feedback can help improve and direct marketing efforts. Keep a close ear on what your customers are saying about you via social and the web. What are they saying in reviews? What feedback do they give when on the phone with customer service? You’ll learn what they really want, providing you with a data-driven approach to your marketing, service and product design efforts.
Delight Customers with the Unexpected Listen to What Customers are Saying
Sending someone a gift on their birthday (or an email in more recent years), while not unwelcome, is expected. How can you go beyond this? Delighting your customers is simple: surprise them with something they didn’t ask for. It feels like they’re receiving a gift from a friend and solidifies the relationship.
Customer success is all about ensuring that customers get value from your products and services and they achieve their desired outcomes. The key is to understand your customers and what those desired outcomes are. To do that you need to listen—through regular conversations, surveys, or other listening means. Learning about who they are, what their expectations are, and how well their expectations organizations can exceed customer expectations, improve customer retention, attain brand loyalty, and increase profits.
Know Your Customers, Grow Your Business Delight Customers with the Unexpected
Understanding what makes your customers happy—or more importantly, what doesn’t—requires a lot of quality feedback. Resolve customers’ complaints before they vent on social media. Sogolytics makes it easy to design surveys that customers are happy to take. Start making more informed business decisions by collecting quality customer feedback.