Do you want your customers to love your brand? What does this really mean? Customers who love a brand are a built in marketing engine because they talk positively about your products and services. They do it on social media or at dinner or at the gym! Building love between your brand and your customers is not just about great customer service; it is so much more, and takes real commitment and effort.
Here are ten things to help make that happen:
1. DON’T ASSUME YOU KNOW WHAT YOUR CUSTOMER WANT: I have seen so many marketers and companies decide that they know best when it comes to “which consumers want to buy their products”, “what they want to buy” and “how they want to buy them”. Unless you are Steve Jobs, it rarely works this way. Don’t assume you know. Let your customers tell you by asking them and really listening to them!
2. ASK YOUR CUSTOMERS: Empower and make it easy for your customers to speak to you! Set up multiple ongoing feedback mechanisms where consumers can share their experiences with you. Set up short daily surveys at multiple touch points asking standard questions about their overall experience as well as specific event related experiences.* Present these surveys after an online purchase, after a phone purchase, after a customer service call, and once a customer has received their shipment/product. Doing this over time provides you with constant feedback and reliable trend reporting that can inform your business decisions.
3. LISTEN TO YOUR CUSTOMERS: Asking the questions listed in number 2 is good but meaningless unless you and your team actually read your customer’s responses and act on them. Acting on them might mean responding to a specific customer issue or it may be identifying an issue trend that needs to be addressed. For every customer from whom you hear concrete feedback from there are ten others with the same issue that you won’t hear from, possibly ever! Take time to truly listen to customers. Monitor both customer sales and service calls. How are they feeling? What is frustrating them? What do they like? How are their interactions with your customer service representatives? This should not just apply to you and your executive team. It should be something that happens at multiple levels of the organization.
4. BECOME A CUSTOMER: It’s crucial that you and your employees look at your company and your products and services through the “eyes” of the consumer by experiencing first-hand, your company’s products and services and your competition’s products and services. One of the more successful executions of this concept was demonstrated to me by an executive on my team who launched a program called “Eat your own dog food”. Employees were required to go through the entire customer life cycle from clicking on an ad, ordering a product, returning a product, complaining about a product, using a product, and everything in between. The list of ideas about what to change, fix and build to improve the customer experience was very long!
5. TALK TO YOUR CUSTOMERS: Take the time to interact with your customers. When a customer tries to get you on the phone… take the call. If a customer finds your email address or messages you on LinkedIn or Facebook… respond to them. Your interaction is likely to bear fruit.
6. PERSONALIZE THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE: Seem obvious? Maybe so, however most companies are still not doing this! This concept can apply to multiple consumer touch points including email communication, and their website browsing experience (in multiple ways). So many technologies exist today to make doing this fairly easily. Relevancy is table stakes at this point. A customer’s experience with your brand should be different than their neighbor’s experience.
7. TRUST YOUR CUSTOMERS: Trust your customers and empower your employees to trust your customers. So many companies create tons of rules to prevent customers from scamming them. This could be complex return policies, cumbersome pricing guarantees, confusing pricing terms, etc… The reality is that 99% of potential customers are honest. Be careful not to set rules that penalize the good 99%, therefore limiting your upside while creating a less than stellar experience for the majority of your customers.
8. MAKE EVERYTHING “EASY”: Make every customer interaction an easy one for the consumer. If they want to return a product make sure it is easy to do so and certainly don’t charge them for it. If a low value – perhaps let them just keep it. When someone arrives at your website, it should be very easy for them to 1) find what they are looking for and 2) buy it. If they need more information to help them with their buying decision this should be clear as well.
9. ENGAGE YOUR CUSTOMER WHERE THEY ARE: Engage with your customer where THEY want to engage with you. Your customer service team should be “all over” social media and engaging with consumers where they are connecting with you whether it is Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. Use every communication vehicle available to you including the phone, email, online chat and even messaging! Be where they are but make sure that you are prepared to handle the volume in a timely manner. Make it easy for them to opt out as well.
10. READ “I LOVE YOU MORE THAN MY DOG” **: This is my favorite book about how to build relationships with your customers and potential customers. I have made this book required reading for my executive teams, department heads and customer service leads. It is a quick read that will impact how you and your teams think about your business and most importantly… your customers!
Do you want your customers to love your brand? Then put your customers first! Ask them questions, listen to their answers, and make their experience with your brand relevant and special.