You are acquiring new visitors and converting them into user with reasonable time and effort – That’s great! But are you binding your customers to your company? Are they loyal and do they come back? Metrics such as Loyalty, Churn, Retention or your user’s lifetime value measure exactly this: Are you achieving to maintain your users and how much are they worth throughout their whole ‘life’ with your product. You create different marketing actions to try to bond with them and you set up cohorts (in time for example) to measure the impact of these actions on your users’ behavior.
What stimulates and influences the loyalty or fidelity of your customer?
I think that everything impacts the customer’s perception of your product, your company, your brand and has an effect on his decision to buy again or not. It’s the acquisition channels and ads you chose, the discounts you give or don’t, the description of your product, the tone of voice on your site, the complementary information and additional communication (such as Social Media, Public Relation or direct Emailing) you create around your product, it’s the experience on the website itself, the buying process and contact with your help center and once bought it is the delivery, the availability and last but not least the product in itself. How was it packaged (plastic or paper?), did it come accompanied by a description, does the product correspond with the pictures seen on site and so forth. Only if the customer is satisfied in all these aspects, he or she will come back. And achieving this is increasingly more difficult – with each new competitor the chance of being interchangeable and the new expectations are rising.
To be on top of the game you have to anticipate the customer’s needs, accompany him in his sales process and build a relationship that will last even once the transaction is completed.
One of the most direct ways to impact your customer is through your Help Center or Customer Support activities: the chat you may have on your site, the phone service you offer and the email channels that you have opened for your user to get in contact with you.
iAdvize publishes a study about customer service and experience once a year and in the last I read that 77% of all customers want instant help and 76% want it for free. This means using an instant chat system such as Livechat and offering local phone numbers to your different countries. Talking to your customers not only helps you to ease out doubts and most likely increase conversion rate (Implementing a chat system has had an effect on our conversion rate in the sense that we were able to retrieve ‘lost’ customers, leading one out of three chats to a successful sale), but also to get an instant qualitative feedback. All data you’ve gathered from your site (be it through Analytics, Kissmetrics or even tools such as inspectlet or crazyeggs for heat maps and screen captures) leaves room for various interpretations, thus speaking to your customer can help you get those interpretations as precise as possible. Asking for continous feedback on site but also after the sale and the product – tangible or not – will help you improve your buying experience and in the long run, improve your retention rate.
Micah Solomon is one of the loudest advocates for customer satisfaction as key to a business’s success and he has written various books on how to create a great customer service organization:
1. Create a lasting First and End experience.
We tend to remember the beginning and the end of a book and a movie the strongest. The same goes for a website and a purchase experience, so make sure to create a strong first and last element of your interaction with the customer. An interaction does not have to be a call, but it can be considered any element that involves your brand: the first banner advertisement the person sees, the arrival on a landing page and in the end, the last automatic system-generated email you send out.
2. Be quick.
We are conditioned in delivery times and experience by huge players such as Amazon or Zappos so you have to keep up with these expectations. Deliver fast if you do not want to loose the game.
3. Customers like to talk to real people.
We want our problems solved and questioned answered by another human being and not a machine. Make all your interactions as natural as possible. Revise your automatically generated content, avoid using too many templates in answering emails or chats and ditch the call answering robot you yourself would be frustrated with. If you want to go a step further, show your face! Be real and genuine – Your customer’s are interested to know who is behind the company! Micah Solomon suggests little measures like adding the last name of your customer support agents when chatting with a customer because it will seem more real. ”You are now chatting with Jane” might seem like a dull avatar – a name used company wide so as not to identify anyone whereas “you are now chatting with Jane Yang-Katzenberg” seems pretty real! It is more fun to talk to a real person than to a seeming avatar.
4. Identify your returning customer and use your knowlegde
Use your site’s data wisely and save all customer preferences to make your customer’s feel at home. Just as they would expect when entering their long-year hairdressed, beloved bartender or the usual girl at the bakery at 7 in the morning. In contrast to them, you do not have to rely on your sole memory to welcome your returning customers. Use your knowledge wisely to make your customer’s feel welcome and recognized.
Take an example from Amazon. They know me inside and out, their book recommendations for me are head on and I fall for this trap every time! Even though, I understand why they do this and what the recommendations are based on, I love it and want more! Why wander around aimlessly through a bookstore when the store clerk can recommend you the perfect book to read based on your likes and interests. You too have enough knowledge about your customer to anticipate his desires. Focus on anticipating his needs and wishes but also pains. Solving a problem before it even arrises shows the customer that you really care and generates the greatest loyalty.
5. Make customer-support communication part of your brand.
Your marketing or branding efforts should not be limited to acquisition and PR or Communication world but should embrace customer support! Create a list or semantic field of words that you want to use with your customers, make up guidelines and teach the tone of voice instead of leaving it up to each individual to decide. Be smart about how you communicate to each individual. You want to create a coherent brand and communication. It will matter.