True Customer Loyalty Starts with The Basics: Which Of These Are You Missing?

Every company executive will agree that having loyal customers is a key to business success. But what are executives really doing to encourage customer loyalty? Most businesses will point to their customer care training or customer relationship management (CRM) system and count on these tools to build loyalty. Some will point to their monthly newsletter or discount program to demonstrate their efforts. All of these are good attempts. 

However, they are not enough. They might make an impact, but creating customer loyalty is something that must be the center of the company. Fostering true loyalty and engagement with customers starts with the basics—and we’re laying those out for you in our top tips, listed below!

  1. Aim Toward Ideal Business Outcomes, but Stay Agile
  2. Have the Right Data Collection Tools in Place
  3. Act on the Data You Receive
  4. Continuously Improve Your Processes Based on Market Changes

Customer Loyalty Tip #1: Aim Toward Ideal Business Outcomes, but Stay Agile

Ideally, you’ll know where your business is heading in 12 months, three years, and five years. But, since the onset of the pandemic, we have learned the hard way that everything can change in a heartbeat. For these reasons, an agile customer listening strategy is critical to survive and thrive. 

Providing your customers with an open channel for communication and feedback engages your customers and strengthens your relationship with them. Engaged customers are more satisfied, more loyal, and more likely to promote your company than unengaged customers. They go out of their way to show their association with your company. An engaged customer also supports you during both good and bad times, because they believe that what you have to offer is superior to what your competitors have to offer. 

Engagement takes your customers beyond passive loyalty to become active participants and promoters of your product. Engaged customers will want to give you more feedback—and you should be ready to handle it! All this translates into more engaged customers who will spend more money with you over time.

Loyalty Tip #2: Have the Right Data Collection Tools in Place 

Enterprise feedback management (EFM) is more than just collecting data. EFM adopts a strategic approach to building dialogues with your customers. By wrapping customer dialogues with technology, your company creates a structured, searchable, and quantifiable body of information that can be used to drive critical business decisions. 

By having the right feedback collection tools in place, you:

  • Empower customers to give feedback through common advertised channels
  • Centralise reporting for proactive surveys and complaint management solutions
  • Structure quantitative feedback into a drill-down or rollup report
  • Make open-ended feedback intuitively searchable

Loyalty Tip #3 Act on the Data You Receive 

Collecting data is a great start—but taking action on customer feedback is the next and most important step for creating loyal customers. Once you’ve validated the data against your program goals and established trends and patterns, it’s time to make a plan. 

Businesses use a variety of statistical techniques to make predictions about the potential for future events. Furthermore, predictive analytics may be used to ascertain the degree to which answers from a survey relate to particular goals (such as loyalty and engagement). Tactical knowledge of action items that impact an outcome preserves resources wasted on ineffective programs, and competent statistical modeling reveals which tactical options have the most impact.

Analyse data using a statistical technique to reveal the most important areas of focus. Then, ask your analyst about common statistical methods including correlation, multiple regression, factor analysis, and logit models. Finally, recognise that the important areas of focus may change over time to respond with changes in the economic, competitive, and demographic environment of your business.

Loyalty Tip #4: Continuously Improve Your Processes Based on Market Changes 

Whether you are applying lean principles, 6Sigma, Kaizen, or a combination, a continually improving experience program is what we are all striving for when it comes to best practice. Every time you seek to optimise your program, you have the opportunity to eliminate non value adds and other waste components which get in the way of operational processes. Every improvement should have a “customer first” approach, which will help customers feel valuable and more loyal with every action. 

Want to learn more about what it means to continuously improve your customer experience, customer loyalty, and your bottomline? Check out this paper which outlines the Continuous Improvement Framework, InMoment’s unique approach to truly value drive experience programs.

How to Humanize Customer Experience & Drive Meaningful Customer Relationships

There’s a problem with how many businesses view customer experience (CX) data: human beings cannot (and should not) be distilled down to numbers. For many years, experience programs have hailed numbers as a sort of holy grail, but the reality is that numbers are no substitute for genuine human connection.

None of this is to say that metrics aren’t important, but companies should remember that they can only reveal so much about why customers may be experiencing an issue or even why they remain loyal to the brand. With that in mind, we’re going to dive into a few things to bear in mind while creating more human and more connective customer relationships!

Numbers Alone Can’t Tell a Story

Before we get into how to humanize and improve customer experiences, we first need to understand why structured data can’t give us all the answers. For instance, it’s common to send out Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Satisfaction (CSAT/OSAT), or Customer Effort Score (CES) surveys after a customer interacts with a brand, but what do these scores actually tell us? A higher ease-of-use score, for example, doesn’t necessarily mean you made the customer happier or that you improved that customer relationship. You can speculate about numbers, but they don’t reveal the exact, organic reason why customers feel one way or another.

So, how can companies compensate for this lack of context? The answer lies in unstructured data and the Experience Improvement (XI) solutions that can turn it into actionable intelligence. That actionable intelligence, in turn, gives brands the chance to create a more organic, more connective, and more human customer experience.

How to Humanize and Improve Customer Experiences

Only when a business listens to human feedback can it respond with a more human customer experience. This means tapping into the voice of the customer by allowing customers to express feedback in their own words. 

Consider platforms like Instagram, Yelp, and YouTube. People can use these platforms to freely (and frankly) express themselves in a way that numbers cannot allow. The result is a form of unstructured feedback that your brand can not only use to trace the root causes of experience breakages, but also to empathize with your customers.

After accumulating enough unstructured data, the next step is to analyze and act on what you’ve learned. However, that’s easier said than done, especially if your CX resources are limited. That’s why it’s important to desilo data and share customer intelligence with your entire company. Then, you can get multiple departments to collaborate and act on their role in humanizing the customer experience (this approach also creates a single, holistic view of the customer for your organization).

If your brand can offer experiences that are far more human, that’s far more valuable than achieving any high metric score. And it goes hand in hand with customer loyalty. When a customer feels empathized with and known as a person, that customer will return to your brand—even if there’s a lot of competition—because their relationship with you has transcended mere transactions. This is the heart of Experience Improvement—answering customers’ search for meaning while strengthening both your bottom line and your marketplace leadership!
To learn more about what makes doing business so dehumanizing and why brands need to challenge themselves to humanize and improve customer experiences, watch this video!

Three Must Haves for Building Customer Trust and Loyalty

Many companies underestimate the value of customer trust and loyalty when it comes to driving higher revenue growth. It might sound counterintuitive, but convincing existing customers to return is more important than gaining new ones. This is because the cost of finding new customers is far higher than the cost of selling to existing customers. In fact, returning customers spend 67% more than first-time buyers.

It’s clear that executives need to put customer loyalty at the center of their company’s values, but how do you actually go about doing that? Let’s jump right in!

  1. Create Personalized Experiences to Build Trust
  2. Go the Extra Mile to Listen and Understand
  3. Quality, Quality, Quality

Action #1: Create Personalized Experiences to Build Trust

Throughout the customer journey, your brand should meet customers where they are. The more personal you make the customer experience, the more trust you’ll cultivate. 

For instance, in the pre-purchase stage, in-store employees should have substantial knowledge about products and understand what customers need. Employees should be trained to create positive interactions from the beginning all the way up to the final moment of purchase. Asking small questions like if a customer found everything they needed—and stepping in if they didn’t—can make a huge impact. Little actions like that help add a nice personal touch to a customer’s experience—and lead to a stronger level of trust!

Action #2: Go the Extra Mile to Listen and Understand 

Trust often leads to loyalty, but your brand has to make the first move. To cement a longstanding relationship of trust, your business needs to show loyalty to customers first. 

An effective approach here would be to engage with and respond to customers, because engaged customers are more likely to promote your company than unengaged customers. Actively responding to customer questions, comments, and complaints can grow loyalty by putting a human voice to a brand. 

One best practice for engaging with customers in this way is to design an open communication and feedback channel. Of course, we recommend utilizing not just a help center as a method to reach out, but any adequate resource, from employees on the front line to digital surveys.

Action #3:  Quality, Quality, Quality

At the end of the day, even if their customer experience was amazing, if the product doesn’t meet a customer’s expectations, all that work you did to build trust and loyalty is in vain. Customers expect value for what they pay for and no amount of sales gimmicks can hide the truth of your product, so it’s key to know customers’ expectations and develop your product/service to meet or exceed that. After all, loyal customers are coming back for a quality purchase; the positive customer experience is an additional element encouraging that return. 

Now that you’ve learned about the importance of customer trust and loyalty, read our eBook to hear about how that trust and loyalty can drive cross-sell and upsell opportunities!

How Operational Excellence Now Leads to Experience Improvement Later

Operations have everything to do with both your business’s bottom line and its relationships with customers. This makes ops’ importance to Experience Improvement (XI) pretty self-explanatory.

However, as foundational as operational excellence is to a company and its experiences, there’s more that brands can do to build a bridge between operations and Experience Improvement. Today’s conversation focuses on that bridge’s two main elements: optimization and innovation.

Element to Connect Operations with Experience Improvement

  1. Optimization
  2. Innovation

XI Element #1: Optimization

Creating operational excellence isn’t a one-and-done. It’s a process that requires constant attention and tweaking. Your experience initiatives can help here by shining a light on systemic issues that might need a closer look. That spotlight can also be used to help come up with fixes for those problems. Of course, a tried-and-true process for identifying and then responding to problems like these is a must here.

Fortunately for brands and organizations everywhere, a lot of the optimizing work has already been completed by the time you hit a stride with your operational excellence! Being good at ops means skillfully gathering the deep analyses and intel your brand uses to be better. This means you’ll already have some idea of what your north star should be as you begin the optimization phase. Desiloing data and sharing it with every team in the organization is also key here.

XI Element #2: Innovation

Innovation is what optimizing your operations builds toward. It’s what allows brands to actually implement their proposed solutions, study how they go, and realize their benefits. Having operational excellence in place makes it easier for brands to forecast market trends and, ultimately, predict exactly what their customers will want. In other words, ops-fueled innovation keeps your company robust and ahead of the curve.

Staying ahead of the curve is a major part of Experience Improvement, and it can only be enabled by:

  1. Operational excellence
  2. Optimization
  3. Innovation

Anticipating what your customers want before they may even know goes a long way toward building the relationships that cause them to ignore the competition (and that let them know you care about them as people). Unstructured feedback, especially from Voice of Customer (VoC) programs, is one of the best sources of additional intel on how to stay ahead of the curve and keep pleasantly surprising your customers.

Click here to learn more about how operational excellence leads to Experience Improvement. Expert Jennifer Passini, Ph.D., goes over additional means of using ops to better your experience and how it all feeds into the grander goal of meaningful transformation for your bottom line and your customer relationships.

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