Customer Experience News & Trends

Why customers say your relationship with them is on the rocks

The customer relationship is floundering — and customers say this is the reason why …

You just don’t understand them.

Nine out of 10 marketers agree that personalizing the customer experience is critical to business success. Despite that sentiment, nearly 80% of customers feel the average company doesn’t understand them as individuals, a recent IBM and EConsultancy study found.

More specifically:

  • 37% of customers believed their favorite companies understand them
  • 22% believed the average company understands them
  • 21% believed the communications they get from average companies are relevant, and
  • 35% believed the communications they get from their favorite companies are relevant.

Chicken or egg?

So it’s a chicken-or-egg question: Do customers feel a more personalized experience from their favorite companies because they loved the company first? Or did companies become favorites because they showed customers a personalized experience first?

Either way, customers will provide repeat business where they have outstanding, personalized experiences. Even better, they’ll tell friends, family and colleagues to go to those places where they had great experiences.

These proven, sharable ideas show how you can create more personalized experiences:

1. Do the unexpected

Front-line employees at Books-A-Million are encouraged and usually equipped to help customers find the products they want, regardless of where that product is. That means, if the store doesn’t have it, employees have been known to track it down somewhere else where it is in stock. They key to winning customer love is working through an issue until its completion.

2. Give customers top-level access

Employees almost always provide better service and experiences when the boss is watching. But most bosses can’t be there all the time — or they choose not to micromanage. That prompted Oren Dobronsky, president of Oren’s Hummus Shop in Palo Alto, CA, to create an app that allows customers to text or email owners personally. He’s a user, of course, and he promotes it at his restaurant’s tables and in its bill folders, and responds quickly when he gets a message.

Most importantly, employees work hard to make sure no negative feedback makes it to Dobronsky’s inbox while they’re on duty.

3. Send thanks, not promotions

Many businesses will blast customers with promotions throughout the year, and especially during their busiest seasons.

Instead of trying to entice customers to buy more during its peak season, JMAC Supply sends a small token of appreciation and a card, thanking them for their year-round business. The goal is just to make a personal connection.

4. Upgrade for free

Here’s a way to take a product or service you aren’t selling much of and turn it into a great relationship-building tool.

Nextiva offers, among other things, free personalized auto-attendant and voice mail greetings to customers who want to update their phone messages — perhaps to reflect special hours or a promotion. It was a service that most customers with tight budgets wouldn’t pay to get.

Offering it for free gave Nextiva a reason to reach out to customers, help if needed and stay top of mind.

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