Customer Experience News & Trends

Where have all the customers gone? Why loyalty stinks now

Customers fall in and out of love with companies almost as fast as teenage girls do. This is why loyalty is on the fritz.

More than half of customers say they dump one company for another because the experience wasn’t what they hoped it would be, according to a recent IBM and Econsultancy study. Other companies made it easy to make the switch when the experience went south: Almost 60% of customers said they got a better deal from the new provider.

Why aren’t customers happy with their experiences? Many cite a generic experience. Others say it’s just a bad experience.

“The real challenge is providing the right experience for the right person at a time that’s right for them,” said Stefan Tornquist, VP of research for the Americas at Econsultancy.

Here’s how three companies boosted loyalty through consistent service and some well-placed personalization:

Know who leaves and act

When customer service at Northeast Delta Dental started to decline some time ago, leaders wanted to make sure they understood who was leaving before they even thought about why they were leaving.

So Customer Service Manager Catherine Frankel and a small team looked at data to uncover some things the defectors had in common. One thing that stuck out to them was that customers who’d been with them fewer than two years were more likely to leave than longer-term customers.

That prompted them to review contacts with a handful of new and veteran customers, looking for differences in how the company and customers interacted. It seemed that customers who had more hand-holding in the start stayed longer — and eventually wanted to take care of business quickly.

So they changed their approach, giving customers who’d been with them less than two years more attention every time they contacted the company. It helped raise satisfaction 7% almost immediately. An increase in loyalty followed.

Reach out in a unique way

Email and text make it easy to reach every customer every day. But frequent, impersonal contact won’t build loyalty.

Personal messages will. And you don’t have to pooh-pooh the idea because you have too many customers, and it would be too burdensome. Instead, ration your personalization like the help desk at Hibernia Bank did.

The manager, Linda O’Sullivan, kept count of customer contacts throughout the day (through the bank’s software) and programmed it to pull the name and contact information of every 100th person. Then she had the customer’s information sent to the rep who took the call, email or chat. The rep then wrote a short thank-you note and mailed it to the customer that day.

You don’t have to do this kind of thing for every 100th customer. Try increments that work for your business. Most importantly, get the front-line employees involved.

Have fun

Customers will remember and reward more than great service. Many of them like something unexpected and fun, too — as long as it’s in addition to consistently good help. Quarkiness or good times can’t trump the most important things in any customer experience — courtesy, consistency, expertise and follow-up.

With those things in place, FreshBooks CEO Mike McDerment encourages front-line service pros to listen for things customers want — even those that seem a little off base — and respond accordingly.

That turned into a bouquet of flowers sent to a customer who vented about having a bad day to a service rep. For another customer, the surprise came in the form of Triscuits — something she mentioned she couldn’t get where she lived. The rep had them shipped to the customer.

On a smaller scale, reps might send customers with whom they have an established relationship a short email with nothing more than the word “POW!” or “Time for coffee!” to put smiles on their face in the middle of an afternoon.

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