With the rise in digital technology, business strategy and consumer behavior has changed significantly. According to a study conducted by Google and Ogilvy, 74% of consumers consider word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and colleagues one of the most influential sources of referral when making a purchase.
For developing startups, the easiest way to generate buzz using word-of-mouth is to provide an excellent customer experience at every touch point of the business––especially the digital functions. That means taking care of little things, like making sure your website is simple to use, that customers can find your business in online search results, and that if a customer has a problem at any point in the process, they can easily get in touch with a real person who can help.
Think about it this way: Any little thing that annoys you during a transaction also annoys your customers. Develop your business in a way that caters to the customers first and foremost, and make sure that your business considers keeping customers for the long term just as important as obtaining them in the first place.
For a startup, this can also mean getting creative and finding alternative routes to common inconveniences like automated phone trees. In recent years, many cash-strapped ventures have turned to live online chats instead of paying to staff a call center. Depending upon the volume of inquiries in a day, some of these positions can be fulfilled by a single skilled employee.
The role of customer service
Some entrepreneurs assume their product or service alone is the “customer experience,” but that is an extremely shortsighted view. Rather, it’s important to look at every touch point of your customer experience. That means at every point that your potential customers encounter your business, the experience must be seamless and easy and reflect the rest of your brand. Keep in mind that 70% of people base their buying experiences on the way they feel they’re being treated.
We’ve all heard stories about people who received poor customer service after making a big purchase, costing a company serious revenue—in fact, many of us have had that experience ourselves. A great way to ensure your customers are happy is by employing a customer satisfaction survey; many companies do this by offering a free product in exchange for a short survey about their most recent experience (think McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts). This strategy is clever because does it offer valuable insights about the specific touch points that are lacking in the customer experience, but it also encourages repeat business.
How to improve customer service
It should be a no-brainer that great customer service starts at the employee level; many experts suggest that one of the best ways to encourage your employees to provide great customer is to keep them happy and engaged at work. When the employees are genuine, outgoing, and friendly, customers are more likely to return in the future. Some frequent customers even develop tight personal bonds with the customer service representatives they interact with on a regular basis; in a way, the customer service experience can act as a form of therapy.
Organizations typically spend 6-7 times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. Companies like Apple are able to command extra dollars because they’ve built a reputation for providing high-quality customer support even after the sale. Such companies know the value of keeping their current customers happy, and they know that these customers aren’t likely to convert to a cheaper alternative because of the quality of service that they’re receiving where they are. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.
For more insight on the customer experience, see Boost E-Commerce Revenue With Intelligent Customer Service.