In today’s tech-driven world, businesses have constant access to their customers—for better or worse. Think about it, with chatbots, forums, review sites, email, social media, and mobile apps— modern customer relationships are more complicated than ever before.
The importance of improving customer relationships
The most successful companies recognize the impact of positive customer relationships. In fact, more than half of Americans have scrapped a planned purchase or transaction because of bad service. And, taking it one step further, US consumers say they’re willing to spend 17% more to do business with companies that deliver excellent service (source).
The bottom line is this: When businesses take the time to improve customer relationships, they inevitably reap big rewards. And, enterprises everywhere are taking note. In fact, 72% of businesses say improving the customer experience is their top priority (source).
The relationship between a brand and its customers doesn’t need to be complicated. In today’s blog post, we reveal five quick ways to improve your customer relationships. Keep reading!
1. Enable self-service support.
Self-service is quickly becoming the preferred customer support channel. When done right, it’s a great way to boost customer relationships. Before we get into it, here’s what we mean by self-service support: any customer support technology that allows customers to solve problems on their own without involving a customer support representative. Examples include help websites, mobile apps, voice response systems, and online chatbots.
Self-service support is a quick and easy way to improve relationships with your customer base. Think of it this way—human representatives spend most of their time using support channels to solve complicated customer issues. Customers who have simpler issues don’t want to wait on hold to speak to a customer support rep—they want answers now. Fortunately, self-service customer support delivers. Consider these statistics:
- More than six in 10 US consumers say self-service tools are their go-to channel for simple inquiries (source).
- Gartner predicts that by 2020, a customer will manage 85% of the relationship with an enterprise without interacting with a human (source).
Ready to set up self-service support? We recommend the following first steps:
Create an FAQ page:
An FAQ page allows customers to find answers quickly, saving time for both support reps and customers. As products and brands evolve, new questions will continue to pop up. Be sure to take note of new questions and add them to your FAQ page as necessary.
Build an online knowledge base:
A Forrester Research study shows customers make the most frequent use of knowledge bases compared to other self-service channels (source). But what is a knowledge base, exactly? An online knowledge base is a resource center where customers can find answers to more in-depth questions on their own.
Knowledge centers often include videos, demos, tutorials, white papers, case studies, blog posts, glossaries, and more. Organization is key to a positive user experience here—determine how each piece of content relates to the rest to create an intuitive navigation.
Enable AI-powered chatbots:
AI-powered chatbots can answer customer questions using natural language without the assistance of human support. This helps in two ways: Customers receive answers quickly and support reps have time for more complex inquiries. Bots can even link to relevant content and tutorials to put customers on the right track.
2. Listen to your customers
Another easy way to improve customer relationships is to simply listen to your customers and act on their feedback. Let’s explore three ways to collect customer feedback:
Practice social listening. Take to the internet to find out what customers are saying on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. If a client complains about a product or service, be sure to respond quickly. It’s also important to keep a log of commonly reported problems, so you can actively track progress made toward resolving them.
One more tip: Remember to respond to positive feedback as well. It’s just as important to show customer appreciation as it is to acknowledge customer complaints.
Use surveys to get honest feedback:
Surveys help build trust with clients by demonstrating a company’s active engagement in the satisfaction of their customers. We recommend you follow every customer service interaction with a survey to help identify and fix issues. Strategically review survey results and keep note of any trends. Then, brainstorm solutions to fix recurring issues.
Read online reviews:
Monitor online reviews for honest feedback about your products. Often, customers turn to popular review sites to voice concerns and complaints they wouldn’t necessarily say to a representative from your company.
3. Respond to customers quickly:
Whether a customer reaches out through social media, email, phone, or online chat, respond as soon as possible to show you are attentive and engaged. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Be available during work hours:
This tip may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important. Make sure an employee is available during work hours to answer all customer inquiries via phone and email.
Respond to emails within one hour:
A study of over 1,200 consumers shows a one hour email response time will meet the expectations of 89% of customers. To meet the last 11%, respond in 15 minutes or less (source). Considering 62% of companies do not respond to customer service emails, this effort will set you apart from competitors and can potentially help garner new business and improve customer loyalty (source).
Act fast on social media:
The same study shows customer expectations for social media are high, so it’s important to act fast! The study recommends businesses target a response time of 15 minutes for direct Twitter messages, and one hour for Facebook messages. If you don’t have the resources to hire staff to support quick response times, we recommend looking into a tool or service that automates social media messages to answer customer inquiries and to provide alternative ways to get customers the help they need.
Keep in mind, more complex inquiries will take longer to answer. But, respond anyway. Let each customer know you received their message and you are working to resolve the issue.
4. Personalize the customer experience:
Personalization is an important way to improve customer relationships. In fact, 80% of consumers indicate they are more likely to do business with a company that offers personalized experiences (source).
Yet, personalizing the customer experience can be tricky. Fortunately, there are simple ways to add a personal touch to your business communications—without expending a significant amount of time or energy. Below, find three easy tips:
Identify each customer’s preferred contact method:
Using buyer personas, customer surveys, or preference center data—take note of how each customer prefers to communicate. That way, you don’t run the risk of annoying your customers and they’ll appreciate your willingness to cater to their particular preferences.
Integrate nice gestures into customer service and onboarding processes:
Small gestures of gratitude add a personal touch to relatively uninspiring processes. For instance, send some new swag and a hand-written thank you note to first-time customers.
Personalized discounts and coupons:
Offer personalized discounts to create a more compelling, targeted offer. This effort makes a big impact. In fact, 76% of shoppers say it’s important to receive personalized discount offers based on their purchase history (source).
5. Reward loyal customers.
Loyal customers are extremely valuable. In fact, one study found it can be anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep a current customer (source). With this in mind, let’s dive into a few simple ways to reward loyal customers:
Offer exclusive discounts or coupons:
An exclusive discount is always a nice surprise—and they pay off, too. 94% of Americans say they would take advantage of an exclusive offer from a brand if the offer wasn’t made available to the general public (source).
Create a referral program:
A referral program goes a long way toward making customers feel valued and toward generating new business. Get, creative here! Try a promotional product, a discount, or a cash bonus.
Send free tips and advice:
Engage loyal customers by providing them with truly helpful and informative content. Think industry advice, news, or interviews—both to help customers better utilize your product and also to establish your company as a thought leader within the field.
Final Thoughts about Customer Relationships
Use the five strategies above to quickly improve customer relationships. As you make the effort to keep customers satisfied, word will spread about your willingness to go above and beyond for your customer base. As a result, you’ll find it becomes easier to generate new business.
To uncover more ways to keep customers happy, check out the following blog posts:
- A Guide to Customer Engagement [Infographic]
- 4 Ways Marketing Departments Can Improve Customer Retention
- 78 Customer Engagement Statistics
Contact ZoomInfo today to learn how our contact database can connect you with new prospects.