The customer experience (CX) delivered today is the key competitive differentiator, and must be at the forefront of all marketing and sales customer communication strategies. Do you really know your customer and what they want? Are you able to satisfy their needs while alleviating their pain points? Are you building loyalty, day-by-day, with a personalized engagement strategy? Yes, we all know the mantra’s, “the customer is king”, “the customer is always right,” – but have you internalized them as mere catch phrases, or have you truly incorporated them into the foundation of your business success?
A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all –Michale LeBoeuf
The Customer Service Battle Plan
Gartner predicts that by 2018, more than 50% of organizations are set to redirect their investments towards innovations in customer experience . It is time to truly compete on the customer experience battleground. To come out victorious, you will absolutely need a precise plan. Every single individual, in the entire organization, must be keenly aware that the first point on their job description is managing the customer experience. No matter what department you work in, and what role you fulfill, you’re employed in customer service. This is not something which is relegated to one team – it’s everyone’s core function. Setting a company up for success means truly integrating and living this principle, day in and day out.
Customer service shouldn’t just be a department; it should be the entire company –Tony Hsieh CEO Zappos
Personalizing All Communication
Your big data analytics will have revealed to you that the personas of your client base, which you would have segmented already for your automated personalized campaigns. Your intent signal monitoring will have already depicted your target audiences pain points, real purchase intent, and their current stage in the sales funnel. Armed with this invaluable information, you can begin engaging with your customer(s) from a place of deep knowledge. You can offer them expert analysis, based on your understanding of their needs and wants, without being intrusive.
Personalizing communication is essential. Make sure you always remember a customer’s name, for example, so they feel important and understand you are listening to what they need. Make extensive notes after each conversation, so you are able to remember what you spoke about for the next time you interact. You will look like a hero in your client’s eyes and most definitely become someone they rely on time and time again.
Effective customer communication creates and enhances the overall perception of your company. Positive interactions improve customer perceptions; which in turn, impact purchasing behavior, while driving loyalty. We all prefer to do business with companies/people whom we “like” and trust. Trust is not only built, but solidified this way. It is a natural inclination to share our good fortune. If you have a happy client, they will tell the world; an unsatisfied client won’t forget their feelings nor their hesitate to repeat them.
Trust: The reputation of a thousand years may be undermined by the conduct of one hour –Japanese Proverb
To gain authentic customer loyalty you must begin with the desire to really want to delight your clientele. You have to look beyond selling products or services, and start investing resources in providing the ultimate customer experience. Every touch point must be drenched in customer satisfaction. Looking for ways to improve their experience with you should be a hallmark of your engagement, whether official or unofficial.
Revisiting the Basics
A man without a smiling face must not open a shop –Chinese proverb
Sometimes delivering an exceptional customer experience means revisiting the basics of customer communication. Remember these pearls of wisdom:
- Be a product knowledge expert. You must know every aspect of your product or service. You must be able to answer any question with confidence. Be articulate. Simple is always better for comprehension and information retention.
- Banish jargon. Nobody responds well to a know-it-all. It’s not about rattling off the specs of a product, using all of the terminology in your handbook, only to alienate a customer who has little grasp of the jargon. Speak to the customer in their “language”. Meet them where they are, in relation to your product or service.
- Work with a smile. People respond positively to a friendly face or upbeat tone in the voice. Offer your assistance with joy and passion.
- Show gratitude. Thank your customers for their continued support and loyalty to you and to your brand. Showing gratitude assures a repeat customer.
- Always be respectful. You always want your customer to leave an interaction feeling happy, and that they have been assisted with courtesy, insight, and respect.
- Less talking and more listening. Read between the lines. If face-to-face, pay careful attention to body language signals. Make the customer your focus, not what you want to convey. Make sure you completely understand their opinions and thought processes, even if you don’t agree with them personally.
- Respond to issues as quickly as possible. Don’t leave the customer waiting for you to get back to them for days.
- Go the Extra Mile. Enough said.
One of your key customer communication strategies should entail proactive customer service. Yes, you read that correctly; providing a service for a customer before they are even aware that they need what you are offering. Being the most proactive person you can be, offering the most proactive solution. A simple example of this is when a server fills your water glass without you asking for it. They have surveyed the customer landscape and seen the potential to offer something that the customer is going to need imminently.
Analytics should point you in this direction; where you can find opportunities like upsell and cross-sell solutions, or products, that should be up for replenishment, etc. Being there in the “proactive” moment causes immediate customer satisfaction.
Is Your Brand Story Compelling?
Remember, customers love stories, especially when they can emotionally relate to them. Timothy Brock and Melanie Green interrogated the role of narrative persuasion finding that an excellently crafted story is one of the most powerfully persuasive forms of writing or speaking. Tell a great brand story, and increase your chances of relating to your target customer.
The Need for Speed?
One facet of awesome customer service is speed – when it comes to delivery, returning communication and resolving issues. But be careful that this idea doesn’t creep into one-on-one engagement. Customer’s don’t want a rushed interaction in lightning speed. They would prefer communication to have value. Customer communication is all about delivering the highest quality of service, where you display competence and in-depth knowledge. Customers revile feeling “rushed”. Remember to slow down and smell the daisies with your customers.
Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of an intelligent effort –John Ruskin
Always Sell “Time”
What you are offering your customer must be relevant to what they are looking for; it should resonate with client expectations. You always want to highlight how your product or service is going to save them time. You don’t have to push the saving “money” aspect. Selling “time saving” resonates more than the “saving money” approach.
In-Depth Customer Profiles
All of these points that will make up your customer communication strategy relies on knowing your customer better. Understanding behaviors across multiple channels, and measuring their engagement, leads to creating precise customer profiles. When you have really gotten to know your customer, you can lay the perfect gift at their feet – acknowledgement of their actual needs. The power rests in the hands of the customer and you must ensure your entire organization is trained in the art of giving superior customer service. That is the cornerstone of building a successful business in the 21st Century.