From Customer Service to Customer Retention

by Kate Enright

www.vonbismark.com

We now live in a world where every euro is appreciated and the throw-away attitude of the past is gone, the same can be said about brands consumers. Customer service expectations have been increasing consistently over the last four years, with 44% of consumers saying their expectations are higher than the previous year, compared to only 31%in 2008 [Forbes]. And, for the most part, retailers are stepping up and meeting the customer service challenge. Stories, for instance, of follow up, hand-written notes from retailers and complimentary bottles of wine sent to rooms from hotel management are now commonplace. Service providers are realising that we are living in an extremely competitive world and it is truly dog-eat-dog when it comes to getting new business and retaining old.

The last thing however, that retailers/service providers should believe is that only the cheapest offerings will survive. Although, as I said, consumers do appreciate and value every cent much more so than before, that does not necessarily mean that they will always opt for the cheapest. What they will opt for, more often than not, is the best quality, the best level of service or a provider they feel connected with, simply because they want to know that they are spending their money in the best possible way with the best people.

So how do we turn good customer service into customer loyalty? Firstly, you have to get to know your customer and secondly you have to take this knowledge and use to it understand what they really want and need. If you can market to that need directly and personally, tapping emotions and treating customers as individuals, you will reap the rewards. This goes beyond the generic “How was our service today?” form, email or text. After all, it has been proven that 85% of loyalty program members never hear from their loyalty programs after the day they sign up. So the generic loyalty programs in place from retailers clearly aren’t cutting it. Companies such as Swipely are thinking creatively by trimming back on loyalty cards and vouchers and using customers’ existing credit cards as vehicles to improving loyalty through clever marketing and deal offerings on behalf of merchants.

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Retailers in this competitive marketplace need companies like these to retrieve hard-hitting metrics on customers so they can to market to them effectively. They need the right technology and creative ideas. A recently interview with Mark Johnson, CEO of Loyalty 360, investigating top loyalty trends for 2011, he stated that, “Loyalty will focus more on emotions than on rational, incentive-based initiatives. Behavioural economists tell us that economic decision-making is 70% emotional and 30% rational, which is why incentive-based loyalty programs that tend to be rational do not work well. It’s the emotional side of the decision-making process that creates connected, passionate, engaged customers.”

To utilise this statistic you will need to know; who looked at what, who bought what, who didn’t buy what and why not? These questions may sound like a Dr. Seuss book but they are what stand between a once-off browse or sale, and a life-long customer. For example, if you can Facebook a customer a month down the line asking them how their jeans are lasting and telling them that there’s a great top in stock that would complement them perfectly, then you will be doing something to intrigue them and put yourself back on their radar. How much more personal can you get after all? … Well without hitting invasive territory at least.

So start thinking outside the box. Get to know customers as individuals by using the right technology and gather the important metrics that will allow you to tap into those emotions and build personal connections with your customers.

Below is an infographic supplied by The National Business Research Institute on customer loyalty that was published this year. It is definitely worth studying.

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Link to infographic site: http://www.nbrii.com/blog/customer-loyalty-what-it-is-and-why-its-important/

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