Armed with information and spoilt for choice, customers' expectations have reached new heights, and businesses must rise to the occasion. Quality customer service is crucial, but what exactly is considered a high-quality experience?
Every business strives to acquire new customers, but savvy ones work to ensure they retain those customers. They keep them returning for more – and for good reason!
Repeat customers are precious. They're good for your reputation (word of mouth referrals), they usually spend 20% more than first-time customers, and have a 60-70% conversion rate.
If happy customers are returning customers, the question we need to ask is, 'How do you keep your customers happy?'
The art of customer satisfaction
Customer satisfaction is an accurate measure of success and intrinsically linked to customer experience. Positive customer experiences are rooted in product quality and price. However, customers increasingly value personalized business-to-customer relationships and communications – quality customer service.
A report published by Gladly, a customer service platform, observed three core customer service trends, namely:
Customers care about the experience.
They want personal and personalized services.
Service matters. It influences whether a customer purchases and how much they're willing to pay!
THE TREND: The customer experience
How you engage and interact with customers is essential to delivering positive customer experiences. In an increasingly connected world, customer experience is moving online. Businesses are turning to digital channels – social media, email, webchat, SMS, and apps – to communicate with customers. Digital channels are often the first point of contact between business and customer.
While it's valuable to have a presence across multiple channels – different strokes for different folks! – consumers are more concerned with having a good experience on the channel they're using at the time.
According to Gladly, on average, consumers use three channels to communicate with businesses. They value quick resolutions (62%), zero repetition – we've all had to explain an issue repeatedly – (62%), and that sufficient time is spent understanding those issues (60%).
THE ADVICE: Focus on outstanding service
While it's tempting to invest in every digital comms channel at your disposal, focus on the channels best suited to your customers' needs. Research which platform they're active on. Then ensure you're providing an excellent and consistent service across those channels – from the content and information you share to response times where there's an inquiry.
THE TREND: Consumers want a personal and personalized service
Individuality is en vogue. Consumers expect you to treat them as individuals and deliver a personal and personalized service. Something as simple as remembering a customer's name can have a powerful impact.
Providing personalized customer experiences builds brand loyalty. For example, 75% of consumers surveyed by Gladly said they'd be 'more likely to make a repeat purchase if a company provided personalized recommendations based on their needs and preferences'. A significant 54% of respondents said they'd made a purchase based on such a recommendation.
Moral of the story: understand your customers and be attentive to their needs.
Fortunately, many businesses already have the information (with permission, of course!) needed to deliver that personalized experience. The trick is to put it into action.
THE ADVICE: Be personal, be human
Whether a person or a bot manages your customer service channel, ensure that the support feels personal and human. Use conversational language (drop the fancy prose), use personal pronouns ('we', not 'the company'), and use contractions to convey a friendly tone. Keep your messaging on brand and consistent. Show your customers that you know who they are – use their first name, paraphrase what they've said to show you're listening, acknowledge their feelings, and demonstrate understanding. All small considerations that add up to create a special brand experience.
THE TREND: Service matters; make it count
Customers expect more. For those looking to stand out in an increasingly competitive crowd, providing quality customer service is well worth your investment. Gladly's report found that a massive 74% of respondents felt customer service was an influencing factor in purchase decisions. To put that into perspective, the report found that a business stands to lose 84% of its customers after three poor customer experiences – 17% of them after the very first one.
What's more, quality customer service – which starts before purchase and continues after – was labeled a bigger draw than a marketing campaign or a promotion by 77% of respondents to the Gladly report.
THE ADVICE: Don't spam; add value
We all have a spam folder filled with overzealous marketing campaigns that failed to hit the mark. Customer service is a more effective means of promotion. It's a tangible experience for a customer that increases trust, turns purchasing into a habit, and creates positive stories that you can tap into for a review or testimonial.
Building that relationship with customers through positive experience, enthusiastic engagement, and top-notch customer service helps build a loyal customer base. Loyal customers will refer your business to friends, family, or anyone who asks – creating an organic source of new customers.
Focus on delivering quality customer service and let your customers do the rest!