Are you Connected with your Customers?
If you aren’t using emotional connections to build customer loyalty, you’re wasting time, according to new research. Harvard Business Review researchers have found Customer Engagement Is Just as Important as Customer Service.
“People buy from people that they like and can relate to,” says Adrian Miller, a sales trainer based in Port Washington, N.Y.
“When business owners overlook the importance of that personal connection, they run the risk of losing the prospect to someone else–usually someone who took the time to create a relationship and help the prospect buy something rather than trying to simply sell to them.”
Yet, most companies spend time and resources measuring satisfaction and trying to improve transaction details, rather than focus on deepening relationships.
It’s time to adapt!
A few days back I came across ‘Breakthrough Advertising’ by Eugene Schwartz is one of the most mentioned “must-read” books.
The opening paragraph of the book is brilliant it says;
“Let’s get to the heart of the matter. The power, the force, the overwhelming urge to own what makes advertising work, comes from the market itself, and not from the copy. A copy cannot create the desire for a product. It can only take the hopes, dreams, fears and desires that already exists in the hearts of millions of people, and focus those already existing desires onto a particular product. This is the copy writer’s task: not to create this mass desire – but to channel and direct it.”
That paragraph brought to mind challenges that need to be addressed in today’s marketing environment.
Firstly, instead of spending the bulk of our time selling only to those who want our product, one must spend it trying to convince people who don’t want it that they actually do.
Second, instead of writing an advertisement to resonate with the right group and get them to take action, we need to write it to appeal to a broad audience.
Third, Instead of following up with our lists with the intention to segment out those who possess the desire that we want to exploit, we blast away with messages to the entire group hoping that something will work.
Fourth, instead of taking the time necessary to fully understand and articulate our persona’s “hopes, dreams, and desires” we make guesses about what they want.
So what is that emotional connection?
Where does it come from?
One of the best outcomes from the social media explosion is that the customer service bar has been a rose. Now that more people are freely sharing their customer experiences may they be both good and bad with the world, quality customer service has become imperative.
Yet with everybody stepping up efforts, the customer service function has to evolve for a small business to further differentiate itself. This is why the next logical step in the customer service evolution is customer engagement.
It has a lot to do with capturing hearts and minds like, how you make customers feel when they buy from you.
It’s usually more of an unconscious feeling than a conscious one; customers continue to buy because you fed their desire to feel secure, you stood out from the crowd or come closer to being the people they want to be.
And to put a number on it: Customers who feel connected to a product, employees, company or brand are 25% to 100% more valuable in terms of profitability.
The Candy maker Hershey was an early innovator in the area of online product testing. In 1999 through 2000, the company moved its new product testing online along with its entire historical product testing. It combined more than 1,200 historical concept tests with about 300 to 400 online test results to create an online “turnkey” system that worked both as a reporting tool and as an archival system. The move to online product testing led to cut Hershey’s new product development process by two-thirds—a strategic advantage in a mature market—and keeps a wealth of institutional data on hand even as research personnel change over the years.
Here are areas where you can help customers develop deeper emotional connections with your company:
- Walk the talk.
Your employees can better connect with customers when they’ve had similar experiences. As a business, everyone craves for happy customers. However, many businesses do not realize that it all starts with employee satisfaction. This is one of the most overlooked aspects of creating a loyal customer base. An engaged employee network provides great customer service.
- Listen to customers and front-line employees.
To connect with customers, you want to increase the reasons they like you or are satisfied with you. The best way is to regularly get feedback and consistently gather and act on informal feedback. Ask employees to offer at least three things a week that they heard from customers that would improve relationships. Customers comment informally all the time on things they really like or dislike. You won’t want that valuable information to go unused.
- Show your personality.
Scripted transactions, corporate policies and lack of transparency in how you do business results in limited connections. Use social media to show customers the causes you’re passionate about. Allow front line workers to make small, relevant talk with customers. Admit when you make mistakes — and how you’ll fix them — to show customers that you are willing to improve.
- Face-to-face meetings and networking
Face-to-face meetings and networking are far more effective in creating meaningful connections. “These meetings are still among the best ways businesses can establish relationships with decision makers.” Communications should not be limited to email and phone. Hosting a local meet up or industry event is a great way for your customers to learn from their peers or feel like they’re part of an exclusive community.
Savvy marketers today can receive primary data via online surveys from a highly coveted demographic. By asking the right questions, you will be able to fulfill their needs and know your customer!
Advantages of Online Customer Surveys
Online research is inexpensive. The cost of gathering survey information electronically is much less expensive than by traditional means. Today a typical e-mail survey costs about half what conventional survey costs and return rates can be as high as 50 percent. For instance, Virgin.net used online research to launch its broadband service in the United Kingdom in 2002. After that, the company did all its research online. The brand saw an increase in its response rates from 17 percent with paper-based research to almost 72 percent and costs had dropped as well.
Online research is faster. Online surveys are faster to complete since the survey can automatically direct respondents to applicable questions and be sent electronically to the research supplier once finished. One estimate is that 75 to 80 percent of a survey’s targeted response can be generated in 48 hours using online methods, as compared to a telephone survey that can take 70 days to obtain 150 interviews.
People tend to be more honest online than they are in personal or telephone interviews. A few years ago Britain’s online polling company YouGov.com took 500 people and surveyed half via intercom in a booth and the other half online, Online answers were deemed much more honest. People may be more open to their opinions when they can respond to a survey privately and not to another person whom they feel might be judging them, especially on sensitive topics.
Online research is more versatile. The multimedia applications of the online research are especially advantageous. Even at the most basic level, online surveys make answering a questionnaire easier and more fun than paper-and-pencil versions with the variety of social media platforms available.
The ability to move beyond traditional customer service and engage customers will make all the difference in driving a more profitable business.
Creating experiences with your customers that are both enjoyable and memorable will forever stand out in their mind. It’s all about understanding where your customer is and where they want to be will be beneficial in your relationship.
Once you understand where your customers are online and what they are doing, you can create meaningful ways to connect with them and demonstrate your value.
Here are few benefits of connecting with customers:
- Save Time
By creating a platform for customers to share, you give your customers access to not only your knowledge base but other community member’s thoughts, as well as those of your employees and partners, offering the ability to combine your existing resources with crowdsourcing tips for much faster customer service outcomes.
- Save Money
When your customers get engaged with other highly engaged customers as well as your employees you’ll decrease the amount of tough questions coming into your customer service center. Customers will answer each other’s questions.
- Enhance Products
Include product developers with engaged customers for product ideation, feedback and beta testing. Based on the feedback received share the enhanced products with your customers, this will help them connect with you as you value the information they shared.
- Strengthen Loyalty
By having a stronger connection to your customers’ likes, wants, and purchase histories, you can tailor future product offerings and content to them. Getting that first sale is one thing, keeping them coming back as a matter of brand loyalty; that takes work to the next level.
- Drive Sales
Being connected is about switching from offering services to offering solutions. A stronger connection with a potential customer involves knowing more about them, their wants, their needs, their past purchases, their likely next purchases. You’ll be offering them solutions made to their needs so closing deals is more frequent.
Keep in mind that chasing numbers of followers should not be your goal. Quantity is great, but Customers who are “emotionally connected” to a product buy more, are more profitable and are more loyal than customers who are “highly satisfied,”
The future belongs to the companies who can make authentic intellectual and emotional connection with customers.
Do you agree with me?
If you are already connected it’s good. What are the techniques you incorporate?
How are your results?
If not how to do you plan to?
Share your views in the comments section below!
I help business owners Build their Brands and make them irresistible, profitable & simple to run.
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