It's commonly said that a loyal and consistent customer base is one of the most important things a company can have, regardless of whatever sector that particular company operates in.
In fact, author James G Barnes says "The customer relationships that a company is able to cultivate represent the most important asset that will never appear on its balance sheet". Hard to disagree with him really. He has a book and everything.
These customer relationships don't happen overnight though; they need to be fostered and nurtured over time, with precision and strategy. How? Well, I'm about to tell you.
1. If you are, stop using COVID as an excuse
I don't mean to sound insensitive here. The pandemic has been nothing short of devastating, caused unimaginable heartbreak, loss and pain, but as we slowly come out of it, consumers want things to go back to normal as promptly as is humanly possible.
A few months back, if someone called up a company and was met by a recording saying that service is slower due to COVID (or got an automatic response to an email saying the same thing), then they'd have taken it in their stride.
Today though, rightly or wrongly, people's patience is running thin, and they don't want to be told that they can't get a product or service that they're paying for due to something that's been going on for 16 or so months now.
Now's the time to be upping your productivity in lieu of the service you missed out on giving over the last year or so, and the customers are expecting relatively normal CX again.
2. Allow customers to communicate with your brand through virtual assistants and wearables
The use of wearables (smart watches, etc...) and people using their Alexas for anything other than playing music and dimming lights is a little limited at the present.
Fear not though, as SAS found in their Experience 2030 report that by 2030, 80% of consumers will be engaging with brands, organisations and governments via smart assistants.
Now is the time to increase the interactions consumers have with your company via their smart devices. As per Statista, the total number of connected wearable devices worldwide is expected to exceed 1.1 billion by 2022.
Get on that!
3. Use predictive analytics to pre-empt customer needs and meet them
If you were to legally and regularly collect data from customers' computers and smartphones, then you would be able to obtain customer insights and anticipate behaviours.
With that information, you could then pre-empt issues and needs in your customers' journeys, and be able to solve them before they even come up.
McKinsey & Co.’s report on the future of CX states that there are three things needed to achieve this:
- A cloud-based, customer-level data lake that allows you to understand your customers better
- Algorithms based on this data that shows exactly what influences your customers' behaviours. With that, you can now generate predictive scores for each customer based on journey features
- An “action and insight engine” that provides information, insights and suggestions via an application-programming-interface (API) layer.
4. Don't be intrusive
This is a simple one. You want to find out more about your customers and not just from taking their data (with their permission, of course). Of course, you can send surveys every once in a while to find out what's good and what's bad straight from the horse's mouth, but don't bombard them with intensely annoying pop-up surveys and hundreds of emails a week.
This also applies to frequent and generic emails that offer nothing to the customer and lead them to unsubscribe altogether or worse, take their custom elsewhere out of frustration.
5. Use AI to free up time for employees to deal attentively to consumers
Generally speaking, customers want to be met with humans when contacting companies; potentially dogs, but that doesn't happen all that often.
With that, you should look into automating repetitive tasks and small, easily solved consumer issues with AI systems. This frees up time for customer service agents to work on more complex and pressing communications that, generally speaking, require empathy.
All of these things are vital in making sure that your customers see you in a more positive light, and would be happy to maintain their patronage with your brand.
Look after your customers and they'll look after you.