What do customers want from you? No, it’s not a rhetorical question. You should know. And if you don’t, you should be asking them. Regularly.
When was the last time you asked a customer for feedback, either on a service you already provide, or a service they’d like you to provide? Don’t underestimate the value your customers put on your proactively asking their opinion. It’s all a part of creating a good customer experience.
Customers want choices
Technological channels give businesses more ways to deliver a good customer experience, and customers’ expectations that they’ll provide them are high. More of us are transacting business online outside of standard business hours, and things like social media, live chat, self-service online support, and SMS are now considered the norm, instead of “fringe” options.
Yes, customers still expect in-person support for more complex matters, so it’s important to identify the right balance to meet your customers’ needs, and adapt as these needs change over time.
And remember, your customers aren’t thinking about how big your business is when they go looking for help. They’ll seek out self-help and other online options before they pick up the phone. If you’re concerned that you may not have the budget to implement all these technologies, don’t waste time wondering. The team at Premier Technologies can help you analyse you customers’ needs against your operational constraints to find a solution that will work for you, and earn its keep.
Customers Want R.E.S.P.E.C.T.
When customers interact with a smaller business, their expectations of the level of service they’ll get are often higher. Zendesk recently surveyed more than 3000 customers from around the world to find out what their thoughts were on dealing with small versus big business. The differences between things like “knowing my situation”, “speed of response”, and “flexibility” were huge. Interestingly, their thoughts on price were no different.
Treat your customers with respect – in other words, listen and respond to their needs and concerns, and show them you care – and they’ll stick with you. And no, you don’t have to be perfect. Forgiveness ratings rank highly with customers who feel respected, and valued – as long as you acknowledge any mishaps or oversights with humility, apologise, and if necessary, offer some form of reparation.
Direct impacts on long-term revenue
How you respond to your customers’ needs has a huge impact on their choices. Treat them right and they’ll keep coming back, even if the service is cheaper elsewhere. To them, you’re a known value. You’re reliable, and they’ll trust you more each time you deliver an experience that is consistent with their expectations – which they’ll base on their previous experiences.
See a pattern emerging here? It’s called “customer loyalty”, and it’s a boon to businesses that are trying to grow and build their brand equity – whether they’re start-ups, or veterans.
Good experiences generate word of mouth – as do bad experiences – with equivalent knock-on effects to your marketing budget, and your bottom line. The cost of keeping an existing customer is far lower than winning a new one, and of the ones you keep, many will become advocates for your brand, spreading the word on your behalf – free of charge – if you’re doing things right.
(Aside: While loyalty or referral rewards are nice, they’re no substitute for providing good service and building a genuine following of happy customers. Think of these kinds of programs as a “thank you”, not a “bribe”.)
As we said earlier, if you’re not sure what things you’re getting right, ask. The key to building a strong relationship is clear, two-way communication. Build that relationship and they’ll stay longer, spend more, and recommend you to others. And that’s got to improve your bottom line.