By Carissa Kruse / Guest Column
The desire to connect is at the forefront of our concerns as business owners. It is this focus on interaction that has brought business practices back to the fundamentals of service, with customers preferring to spend their money with businesses that offer relationship-centered transactions.
An article written by thinkJar CEO Estaban Kolsky states that 55 percent of customers are willing to pay more for a “guaranteed” good customer experience, but only a handful of customers are willing to tell businesses when they’ve had a negative experience.
The majority of customers who are not satisfied with services will simply not return. Kolsky’s solution for a “guarantee” is to shift the focus from internal benchmarks of success to what the customer finds valuable. This is achieved by consistently reaching out for feedback from existing customers and being open to changing business practices based on that feedback.
Social media channels have become the primary form of communication and can easily connect businesses and consumers. While the intention of starting a Facebook page may be advertising, the ease of sharing content and tagging businesses has made it easy for customers to use social media to promote things they love. This is great news when businesses are doing things right, but can also be an indicator that changes need to be made when traffic slows. Making social media communication a priority is essential when it comes to customer feedback and experience.
However, that accessibility can be too impersonal and often leaves customer feedback slipping through the cracks. According to research on oracle.com, “79 percent of consumers who shared complaints about poor customer service experience online had their complaints ignored.”
As a business owner that runs outside of brick-and-mortar, I know that establishing a social media presence has been pivotal to creating consistency in my brand and allowing customers to connect with team members who are operating on different schedules. But without a voice to accompany that customer feedback, those words can easily be overlooked.
I believe as business owners in a digital age, we are challenged to do better. By following up with customer feedback and meeting people face-to-face, we are creating our own “guarantee” of a positive experience by holding our business accountable to the customer.
Below are three ways to improve your customer relationships and evaluate your brand’s customer experience “guarantee.”
- Create a formula for following up. This is the most fundamental reason that customers can be dissatisfied with their experience. By leaving customer questions unanswered, customers are less likely to trust a business and therefore do not want to do business with them. Create a policy of follow up (24-48 business hours for example) and stick to it. See what it does for your customer relationships.
- Be an expert at your business. thinkJar’s research states that 56 percent of customers want the right answer and 44 percent of customers have received the wrong answer. Knowing your products and services is mandatory when establishing the trust that creates a positive customer relationship. If you aren’t sure of an answer, be transparent and be sure to follow up once you’ve obtained it.
- Ask for feedback. As stated above, the majority of customers who have negative experiences won’t tell you what’s wrong. They simply won’t do business with you again. By inviting customers to talk about their experiences, you are reinforcing the idea that you (and your products) are there to make their lives easier. If you see a pattern of dissatisfaction, be open to doing something different.
Carissa Kruse is CEO of Carue Marketing and Weddings By Carue. Learn more at www.weddingsbycarue.com.