In any customer-facing industry, we know that loyal customers stay longer, spend more, tell their friends, and cost you less to serve, says Dennis Fois. According to Gartner statistics, 80% of a company’s revenue comes from 20% of its customers – the loyal ones. The inherent link between loyalty, redemption and frustration poses a daily challenge for businesses, as each must be finely balanced.
Great companies find ways to tune into customers’ voices every day, and then systematically take action on what they have learnt. Acting on feedback continuously ‘closes the loop’ between what the brand promises and the experience delivered, and businesses should not under-estimate the value of meeting customers’ basic expectations. Equally, we should also not over-estimate the financial benefits of exceeding them. By keeping the customer at the heart of your business, you can deliver an experience so good that it changes their economic behaviour.
So, how can businesses ensure they are keeping customers at the heart of what they do?
- Bring the customer into the boardroom
Ensure that your executive team get close to customers by surrounding them with the customers’ voice, highlighting great feedback and improvement points. It can be easy for the customer to slip out of mind when the team are focusing on growing the business, so keeping them visible in the boardroom helps the whole business to understand how vital customer experience is to the bottom line.
- Create change with feedback
If you have customer engagement software, exploit it! Using measurement tools to track feedback and progress brings visibility to the customer journey, helping staff at every level understand the impact of their action. It can also be useful to set improvement goals for each customer’s journey, track the progress and share with the team. Measure immediately what matters most to customers for the transactional part of the experience, as this will have the most influence.
- Fix stuff, for good
Agree about the top ten customers’ grumbles, so you can then set about fixing them once and for all, saving time and effort for both customers and customer service agents. Regular health checks of your operating systems can also highlight what is working well and what can be adapted to streamline operations and the customer journey. Focus your team on solving the customer’s query the first time, and remember that no service is great service – if your customer can solve their query using a dedicated help centre or self-service option, it’s usually quicker, and will lead to higher satisfaction.
- Celebrate success
Recognise and reward both customer service and retention within your business.
Your front line should be empowered to do the right thing for the customer, so encourage them to take initiative and commend them on results and feedback. Some companies we work with have a commission structure built around their individual customer feedback, which can be a great driver and incentive for staff to do the best that they can.
- Keep it personal
It is so important to remember to keep your relationships personal – people can become so focused on data that they stop hearing the real voices of their customers.
Every customer deserves to be treated as an individual, and have their feedback taken on board as an action point for the business. Customer expectations are reasonable, they just want us to deliver on the basic promises we have chosen to make. Customers care about ‘did I get the problem fixed?’, ‘was I treated fairly?’, ‘was the fix timely?’. The answers to these questions, along with the relationships you build, are crucial building blocks to future success.
Dennis Fois is CEO of Rant & Rave