Ten ways to win loyalty through customer service
While the currently uncertain economy may not necessarily be a very long-term problem, the strength of the relationships that companies builds with their customers can and should last even longer, according to guidance from RightNow Technologies and Peppers & Rogers Group.
There are ten key ways for companies to win consumers' hearts and minds during hard times, most of which are based on the simple premise of providing excellent customer service. These top ten ideas are:
- Use cost savings to boost marketing Focus upon cost savings rather than revenue generation when implementing a customer initiative and then use those savings to fund future enhancements.
- Don't stop customer initiatives Don't discontinue an existing customer initiative in an uncertain economy. If necessary, reduce the scope of (or postpone pending improvements to) the initiative until the economy improves.
- Watch for possible defectors Don't wait for customer relationships to weaken or break you can't afford the loss of revenue or of goodwill in an uncertain economy, so proactively take steps to manage those relationships well.
- Provide better service Customers make purchase decisions more deliberately in an uncertain economy, so give them the service and the information they need to choose your company over the competition.
- Provide more information Customers take longer to make purchase decisions when times are tough, so bridge the gap with a sequence of individually customised communications that provide concrete information on the specific product features and benefits that fulfil their needs.
- Channel the marketing budget Spend your budget wisely, by shifting dollars to individualised service initiatives and communications targeted to those customers who are most valuable or who are most likely to grow in value.
- Communicate real value Clearly communicate value in each customer message empathetically explaining how and why your product is aligned with the customer's concerns in a trying economic environment.
- Use customer feedback effectively Don't overwhelm customers with surveys, and when a customer does respond, let them know that their feedback has been received and, most importantly, that it is sincerely appreciated.
- Invest in innovation Invest in innovation that's fuelled by customer feedback during challenging economic times because it can pay handsome dividends.
- Create memorable experiences The memories of customers will extend well beyond the end of an uncertain economy they won't forget (or forgive) opportunistic actions or other violations of trust, but they will remember excellent customer service.