Once upon a time the concept of creating a “happy customer” revolved around face-to-face experiences between a business’s customers and its employees. However, in recent years, the burgeoning e-commerce market began to chip away at the interpersonal nature of B2C interactions. Now is the time for companies to increase customer loyalty from within.
Then, the proliferation and popularization of remote work began to increase as well. The coronavirus only served to amplify this migration to a virtual work environment. The results of these shifts into a remote-first, online world, while positive in many respects, have largely eliminated the interconnected and personalized nature of communication both between customers and coworkers.
If you find that the cold and calculated nature of the remote world has led to a drop in your customer’s fealty to your brand, here are a few suggestions for the best ways to increase your customer loyalty via changes within your company’s remote structure.
Establish Core Values
If you want to establish (or re-establish) a sense of loyalty from your customers, you can’t just take a quick-fix approach. To truly generate sustained loyalty from your customer base, you must start by establishing core values for your company that resonate with your clientele.
For instance, if your primary audience is from Generation Z, embracing values like corporate social responsibility and authenticity are important. If these values are clearly expressed throughout your organization’s internal operations, it will foster respect from your customers whenever they encounter them.
Create Communication Guidelines
With your team spread out and working remotely, it can be easy to misfire on things like communication and collaboration. When it comes to customer-facing activities, this can have a serious effect on how customers view your company.
For instance, consider a customer who approaches your customer support staff and is told via a text conversation on your website that they can return an item. If they are then transferred to a phone or email conversation with another rep who informs them that they cannot make the return, it will likely create a sense of confusion and resentment.
If you want to avoid this, it’s important to establish clear communication guidelines in your company in three different areas:
- Horizontal channels: Things like Slack, email, and video chat options should always be clearly defined to keep employees in close communication with one another.
- Vertical channels: Employees should always be able to ask a superior if they have a question as they address customer concerns.
- Customer channels: Employee handbooks and clearly defined guidelines should be made defining your brand’s tone, voice, and style, which should be used by all employees across all communication channels.
By creating a clear communication formula, you can establish consistency for all of your employee’s interactions. This, in turn, provides a predictable, higher-quality experience for your customers.
Set Up a Clear Structure
Along with consistency with your communication, it’s also important to have a well-organized team in which everyone knows their responsibilities and function. Building an efficient and productive e-commerce team may have a different focus than a traditional brick-and-store model, but many of the roles remain the same.
For instance, you’re still going to need a manager to oversee your entire operation, customer service reps to interact with customers on your website or over email or social media, marketers to promote your products online, and possibly even a sales department depending on the kind of products that you’re selling.
All positions and duties should be clearly defined and structured. This will enable your team to operate efficiently and meet customers’ needs with greater effectiveness.
Hire the Right People
It’s difficult to have structure, standards, and core values if you don’t have employees who will respect and embrace them. This is why the people you hire can have a huge difference in how your customers see your brand.
As you hire new employees, vet them for culture fit. Do they share your company values (and by extension the values of your customers)? Do they communicate well and is it obvious they would follow company guidelines in a remote work setting?
Even diversification in your hiring activities can make a big difference in your customer loyalty. For instance, Elise Awwad, Vice President of Strategic Enrollment Management at DeVry University points out that hiring staff with diverse skills and experiences can have a tremendous impact on your customer service by increasing the ability to service and support more customers effectively.
Encourage Trickle-Down Loyalty
Finally, it’s important to remember that happy employees create happy customers. Employees who are engaged, empowered, supported, and recognized will organically impact your customers through their shared interactions and experiences.
This “trickle-down” of happiness will naturally foster a sense of satisfaction and loyalty as each customer interacts with an invested and fulfilled employee.
Internally Addressing Customer Loyalty
Customer loyalty can be difficult to maintain and increase when you’re operating an e-commerce company with a remote team. The distance and lack of human touch can be hard to overcome.
However, there are many ways to infuse your company’s customer experience with the human touch right from within the ranks of your organization. Establishing core values, creating communication guidelines and organizational structure, hiring the right employees, and tending to their job satisfaction can all have a trickle-down effect that ultimately boosts your customers’ experience, increasing their loyalty in the process.