In most businesses, the sales and marketing teams share the credit when profits increase and the blame when profits decrease. In the day to day we’re busy with awesome digital strategies, operations, and getting our message out there so we stay on the good side. Oftentimes though, the view of the customer becomes lost, something that can quickly break your business.
Consider the following statistics that demonstrate how negative customer experiences can damage a customer's loyalty to your company or brand.
- A recent survey revealed that 89 percent of the respondents reported that after receiving poor customer service, they simply stopped doing business with the company
- Your customers are twice as likely to share a bad experience with their personal network than a positive experience
- If they haven’t walked away, an experience of one negative customer service event requires 12 positive customer service events to "forgive and forget"
- How customers feel that they are being treated accounts for 70 percent of the perceived buying experience
- It costs between six and seven times as much to attract a new customer than it costs to retain an existing one
- Increasing customer retention by 10 percent increases the company's value by 30 percent
- When making a purchase online, 83 percent of all consumers need some type of customer support, from chatting with an associate about fit to understanding a return policy to reviewing their order confirmation email
- In a recent survey, 62 percent of the participants reported they had switched brands during the previous 12 months because of poor customer service
- 70 percent stated that they would not have switched brands if their issue had required a single interaction to resolve
- A mere 4 percent of all dissatisfied customers will complain to the company
- 55 percent of the respondents to a recent survey stated that they would be willing to pay more for an improved customer experience
- If the customer's problem is related to service rather than the product or its price, he or she will be four times more likely to make a purchase from a competitor
- Approximately 45 percent of American consumers will abandon an attempt to make an online transaction if they do not receive a response to their questions or concerns quickly enough
- Thanks to outdated user interfaces, multiple apps and disconnected systems, 42 percent of all customer service representatives cannot resolve a customer's issue in an efficient and effective manner; oftentimes, the customer has better tools to self-serve than the company’s representatives
Wondering how to become truly customer-centric. Let’s explore some options.
Put Yourself in Your Customer's Place
Think about every step that your customers must follow to find and purchase or create a lead for your products. Consider the emotions they might be feeling. For example, if your representatives haven’t actually held your products in their hand or your website is slow & lacking images, they may feel annoyed and frustrated. Try to identify your customers' pain points and what they believe are the hallmarks of a good experience. Empathy rules. So does actually observing your audience. Consider this story about veterans trying to apply for benefits on a website requiring an out of date version of Internet Explorer plus a very specific version of Adobe Acrobat.
Think of the Future
Creating a customer-centric culture will not happen instantly. At first, you may feel you are eroding your profits to satisfy a relatively small group of customers, especially since you are unlikely to see your sales increase immediately. You have to think about your long-term success and plan accordingly. Keep in mind that you are building long-term relationships rather than trying to make a quick sale. We’ve all seen the growth of Zappos, Amazon and USAA who have always focused on service, occasionally at the expense of growth. We’ve all also seen companies who have lost that focus.
Develop a Company Culture that Focuses on the Customer
Becoming customer-centric must involve all employees in all departments. It is not enough to simply train your reps to deal with complaints. From your maintenance staff to members of upper management, everyone needs to remember the importance of treating every customer with gratitude. Ignoring questions posted on your Facebook page, placing callers on hold for extended periods and failing to respond to inquiries are all ways of conveying you do not value the individual over your company goals.
Look for Creative Ways to Delight CustomersCompetition is fierce, you need to demonstrate your company is different. Having a customer-centric focus can be an excellent differentiator and makes for super-positive converations at the water cooler. Go the extra mile to look for ways to give your customers something unexpected. You do not need to make costly or grand gestures. It is the small, personal things that resonate the most. For example, if the customer is on the fence about buying your product casually mention your happiness guarantee or thank a customer who called with a negative issue for taking the time reach out to you instead of trying to get off the phone as fast as possible. Even a sincere tweet thanking your valued customers can help you set yourself apart.
Shifting your company culture to be infectiously customer-centric may take time to propagate but if you keep your focus you’ll reap the benefits for many years to come.