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5 Ways to Optimize the Customer Experience and Build Loyalty

Posted by Kathleen Hamburger

In a world buzzing with choice, earning customer loyalty presents a formidable challenge.

Customer brand preference primarily stems from high quality products/ services, but loyalty and retention of customers is based on the relationship after the purchase. For example:

  • How easily can customers engage your company for support when they need to FIX something?
  • Can customers make account CHANGES without having to call someone?
  • Do your services have a reputation for being difficult to CANCEL?
  • How well do you position ongoing value?

[caption id="attachment_737" align="alignnone" width="620"]Image removed. 5 Ways to Optimize the Customer Experience and Build Loyalty[/caption]

Engagement helps increase the intensity and depth of customer involvement and understanding about your brand. Customer engagement also increases the chances of brand recall. According to a 2013 Everest report, channel management (customer engagement platforms and data analysis) and customer analytics (understanding customers by monitoring conversations around your brand and collating relevant data for action) should be a part of your contact center pyramid.

Whether you engage with customers through voice, chat, email or social media, there are certain rules and tips that apply irrespective of the engagement channel:

1. Replace sales-driven engagement with relationship building activities

Your customers shouldn’t feel that your brand is only interested in making money. Successful customer engagement strategies strike the right balance between helping resolve the customer issues and positioning additional value. Offer tips and tricks, product advice and unique user access to earn trust and create a connection with the customer. A trusting customer is a loyal customer.

For example, helping consumers through their learning curve in this new interconnected world of the Internet of Things is the perfect way to create meaningful engagement. The goal is to leave them wanting more from your brand; considering your company, something that they can’t imagine not being able to access. Each successful engagement creates more entrenchment and more earning opportunity.

2. Pay attention to what your customers are saying, texting and typing

Beyond just post-interaction surveys, which are still a good idea to validate what the voice of the customer is actually saying, you must pay attention to what is really being said. Use of text and speech analytics is enabling the review of 100% of customer dialogue. This creates a powerful opportunity, in the hands of the right customer engagement experts. Voice of the customer data, especially when reviewed in correlation to CSAT feedback, and frontline agent feedback, gives a triangulated view of real sentiment and customer need.

For example, using a lexicon of terminology that detects customer complaints (or DSAT, dissatisfaction drivers) and a related mapping of repeat caller categories will allow you to analyze in near real time and make adjustments that can help to raise satisfaction and impact key metrics like Net Promoter Score (NPS).

3. Be available around the clock

When aiming for customer loyalty through engagement, 24X7 availability is the customer expectation. Ensure customers can reach you whenever they need. Be a brand that “cares” and take time to show it. These points help put you on a customer’s loyalty list. Recent research by Monetate shows that 79% of customers will buy from you again if they have a good experience.

4. Create open ‘lines’ of communication

Open lines of communication means you support continuous engagement over whichever channel is convenient and preferred by the customer. This makes you easy to do business with. For instance, if it isn't practical for customers to phone with an issue, optimizing the answer for easy search results can boost online resolution and satisfaction. Additionally, social media platforms such as Facebook allow customers to post on your page, and for businesses to quickly reply directly to one or all followers. An easy to use "Contact Us" form on your website can make it convenient for customers to reach you, and a web chat invitation at the right moment of truth can mean another frustrating call gets avoided.

5. Treat customer complaints as opportunities

One of the main reasons customers engage with a brand is when they need something fixed. Customers who had problems and got them resolved are 89% more likely to buy from you again. This percentage is higher than those who bought from you and never had any problems.

Whether you are solving a problem or simply engaging with customers, multiple layers of engagement are required to build a long-term relationship. You can entrench your brand with your customers and build loyalty with a few key foundational tenets. Offer them value and not just deals, listen and care, be easy to do business with, support the customer communication channel of convenience and address complaints with urgency.

What engagement strategies have you implemented to drive customer loyalty?

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