It’s no secret that holiday shoppers spend most of their time online these days – if not actually making a purchase, then doing some product research before buying in stores. While an automated checkout may be fast and convenient, though, it doesn’t replace the marketing value of personal relationships. In the long run, customers still appreciate a real, human connection over a faceless interaction. The more effort businesses make to treat their customers well on a personal level, the more likely those customers will keep coming back.
We all like to feel important, even while shopping for someone else. Customers will develop a stronger relationship with your business if they feel like a valuable part of your brand.
- Communicate personally through customized emails and genuine online comments, and offer information or promotions that each unique recipient will find relevant and interesting.
- Acknowledge VIP customers with special coupons, invitations, thank-you notes, or even birthday cards. Personalized recognition makes customers feel valuable and encourages them to reciprocate.
- Stay in touch between sales. 87% of unhappy customers never complain – they just don’t come back for repeat business (Source: Client Heartbeat). Reach out to silent or inactive customers to find out why they’ve lost interest, and keep current ones up-to-date with news, special offers, or other incentives.
- Be honest, even if it’s bad news. Keeping customers in the loop about changes in your business will make them feel like invested partners and keep them tuned in for future updates.
When customers have problems or need information, most will check your website first before actually trying to contact your company. According to Forrester, however, 45% of consumers will forgo their online purchase if they can\\\’t find a quick answer to their questions – so if visitors do need extra assistance, make it easy for them to get in touch directly with a real, sympathetic person at your business, either by phone or online chat. When customers seek online help, referring them to a FAQ page or email contact form will only frustrate them, and drive them to search for easier solutions from a competitor.
It’s also important to provide a great service experience once customers do get in touch with your business. Make sure your employees are empowered to fix problems when they arise, and well-trained to assist any level of customer, whether large or small. Follow up with clients to be sure the issue was resolved successfully. Finally, listen to your customers’ feedback, be it via surveys, referrals, online reviews, or direct comments or phone calls. They’ll more likely remain loyal to your brand if they feel that their opinions matter and that they can make a difference.
Being ‘Real’ on Social Media
Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter provide a chance to showcase the ‘human’ side of your brand. They allow you to carry on genuine, personal conversations with your customers – and more and more web users now expect this personal element in their customer service interactions. In fact:
- 82% of consumers trust businesses more when they have a social media presence. (source: Forbes)
- 55% of consumers expect businesses to provide customer service via social media. (Source: Synthetix)
- Customers will spend 20% to 40% more with businesses who engage and respond to their service requests via social media. (Source: Bain & Company)
- Failing to respond via social media interaction can bring about as much as a 15% increase in existing customer churn rates. (Source: Gartner)
Remember: communication is a two-way street. Respond promptly and courteously to comments on your social media pages, and if issues can’t be resolved online, invite customers to contact you personally offline. Giving customers personalized attention to answer questions or address concerns – as you would in a face-to-face meeting – will show them that you care about their experiences, and inspire a greater trust and loyalty to your business.
Excellent customer service is a key factor in business retention. It’s an easy part of doing business, but unfortunately, often overlooked.