Your customers are the blank canvas on which you can create and project the reputation of your brand. It’s only when they trust you that you know your customer strategy is fruitful. Gaining your customers’ trust is, by far, the quickest way to create a pool of loyal advocates who are happy to buy and promote your brand in their community. But the quality of your products or services is only one ingredient for the trust formula. It’s the interactions you establish with your customer base that serves as a catalyst for your business growth. While it is difficult to measure trust – or even to contact customers and ask them whether or not they trust your brand – measuring the quality and the efficiency of your interactions with your clients is the closest you can get to defining how trustworthy you are perceived by your audience. This, however, asks an important question, namely, how do you define a successful interaction? Indeed, at a time when most processes receive clear feedback – everybody knows the star reviews on Google for instance – you can get an insight into the experience people have with your company. But business reviews often lack clarity and information when it comes to monitoring the effectiveness of your relationship with customers. Here are some directions you can explore to optimize your customer interactions and build a platform for success.
What options do you give your customers?
Customers expect to get in touch with your company through a variety of ways. Consequently, it’s part of your communication strategy to use more than one contact method. Most digital contacts tend to fall under the responsibility of the marketing team, as they are often in charge of the social media, email and SMS marketing strategies. Ultimately, as your company reaches out to customers through these channels, you also create a two-way communication system, for your audience to interact with the brand. However, you need to create a communication path for the interaction to exist. On social media, it’s key to keep the account active. Otherwise, users are likely to ignore your presence. And emailing campaign needs to share a valid email address for customers to comment or query the newsletter. There is also a link to unsubscribe. Finally, an SMS campaign should always indicate which number the user needs to text to opt out. Similarly, if you use a phone number, you need to state clearly whether it’s a free or paid for the number. In other words, whichever communication options are offered to your customers, it’s key that people are in the clear from the start in terms of cost, contact processes or managing their contact preferences.
Are you really there for your customers?
The variety of contact forms you offer your customers is important. Some users feel more confident getting in touch via chat, while others prefer a phone call, for instance. However, offering diverse contact points require managing every single one of them closely. Over one-fifth of companies that have a chat function fail to respond to live requests. Chats are a preferred mean of communication for digital users who want an immediate response to their queries. In fact, users turn predominantly to chats, making instant digital communication the preferred contact over phone and email for customers. However, with 21% of companies failing to answer direct questions and an average handling time of nearly 7 minutes, chat can leave your customers bitter and disappointed. A similar situation can occur via social media, which is by far the preferred platform for complaints and urgent queries. While the natural reaction to a conflict situation might be silence, not responding to negative tweets about your brand has dramatic consequences. For a start, you’re not helping a user who is struggling with an issue and has taken it on social media in frustration. Then, you allow other users to see that you choose to ignore a conversation.
What’s the cost of customer interactions?
While customers may not see the costs involved in the management of their interactions, it’s fair to say that nothing comes for free. Social media management requires a team of social media specialists to handle all queries. The online chat is often left to the call center agents to manage. This might lead to the belief that call centers are dying out. In reality, even though roughly 50% of users try to sort out their issues online, you still need to deal with 50% of your customers. As a result, it’s especially important to consider solutions to reduce the costs inherent to the management of a calling platform. Using a hosted VoIP installation can let your agents connect online to handle calls, which means that you can also work with multiples call centers across the country and maintain an overall VoIP umbrella. Ultimately, running a call center is expensive, as you need to consider landline costs, duration of the calls and even origin/destination of the call for overseas clients. Keeping your costs down means that you can also keep your customers’ costs down too.
Do you measure the ROI?
Defining how much your customer interactions costs is one thing. But knowing whether they are worth the investment is another. That’s precisely why you need to find solutions that can measure your quantitative customer experience ROI. Ultimately the purpose of monitoring your CX – Customer Experience – is also to define how valuable it is to your company. For instance, a study by Medallia found that customers who rate their experiences positively are likely to spend 140% more in future with the brand. In other words, ensuring your customer interactions are as helpful as possible is directly linked to increased profits. But what if the 140% sales increase doesn’t recoup your investment in the quality of your customer communication? Keeping track of your CX ROI is useful to identify areas where you over/under-spend and design strategies to optimize cost-saving interactions.
Customers data are more precious than ever
With the recent Facebook data scandal regarding the UK-based political data firm company, Cambridge Analytica, accessing the data of 87 million users, the debate around customer interactions is taking a new turn. Customer management means customer data. As users are becoming more and more sensitive about the respect of their privacy, it’s only natural to ask what happens to your data. Do brands share your data with third-party firms and advertisers? Customers have a right to know. While Facebook has been rolling out a message to inform users who have been affected, the repercussions are global. UK users, who have not been affected by the data leak, have decided to cancel their account as a sign of protest. Some American users have also left Facebook since the scandal, resulting in a loss of value in the stock market. Still, on the subject of data, the EU legislation is launching the GDPR next month. While you may not actively trade with the EU, if you have customers or partners who live in the EU zone, you will need to understand the implication of this new data protection regulation. Indeed, as customers can demand the total removal of their data, as a company, you need to consider the safest and most cost-effective way of obliging without putting your strategy at risk.
Your customers can decide on your future
To come back to Facebook, the user behavior following the revelation of Cambridge Analytica data access has been negative and angry. As a result, Facebook stocks have fallen in the year after the FTC confirms the investigation. It may not mean the end of the social media network, but its valuation has dropped dramatically. For a large company, such as Facebook, it’s likely that the drop in value will start a new era aimed at better engaging with data privacy and protection regulations. But, it’s easy to see how the popular distrust could have driven smaller companies to bankruptcy. In other words, your customers decide, based on their interaction experiences, whether your business live or die.
You can reach out a new audience online
But, just as your user behavior can mark the end of a business, it can also launch a viral engagement reaction. For instance, some of the best video campaigns of 2017 have also driven commercial results. Samsung viral video about India client safety has driven sales too, as an example. Similarly, social media engagement, especially on imagery platforms such as Instagram, helps brands to convert new customers into their visual values. From Rolex to Mini, more followers means more brand trust.
You embrace new trends
Last, but not least, at the heart of keeping your interactions productive and exciting, there’s no denying that innovative marketing campaigns are part of your success. Changing your brand image or attracting a new audience group is not something you can achieve through content generation anymore. You need to work closely with a social media influencer who can become an ambassador for the brand. YouTube talents are competing against big brands and gaining more viewers, and consequently more value. In other words, if you want to go big, go influential.
Customer interactions are evolved to bring together the digital savviness of new generations and the behavioral experience of psychologists and analysts. A successful interaction is not only cost-effective, but it’s also viral, quick, influential, data-aware, and productive.