The creation of long-lasting customer relationships is vital to success. The first step is to learn how not to fall into the common traps that ruin customer experience and lose clients.
There was a time when a good product or service was enough to build a successful business. If your product was superior to the competitors’, consumers would pick you over them.
It’s as simple as that.
Nowadays, however, consumers have a lot more options to choose from.
But do you know how they make their choices?
The truth is, many of them tend to prioritize customer relationships as most important..
You see, people need to feel a strong emotional connection to the business they’re working with. Today’s consumers want businesses to truly care about their needs and satisfaction, not just sell products or services to them. The customer experience matters!
This may not be a new trend, but it continues to be on the rise. The latest 2019 NewVoiceMedia report showed that businesses lost more than $75 billion a year due to bad customer service.
That’s $13 billion a year more than the 2016 NVM report found.
In addition, 67% of today’s consumers are serial switchers. They’re the ones who won’t hesitate to switch to another brand if their experience isn’t good enough. This represents a marked increase from the 37% figure of the 2016 report.
We can safely conclude that positive customer relationships are now more important than ever before. The fact that many businesses fail to create these relationships can actually be positive news for you – if you’re able to take the lead.
Let’s look at the mistakes that many of today’s companies are making so you don’t repeat the same.
…But before that, let’s look at one big example of what poor customer experience can do to a business.
The Story of Amy’s Baking Company
If you’re a fan of Gordon Ramsay, you’ve probably heard of Amy’s Baking Company. It appeared on Ramsay’s show Kitchen Nightmares and made history for having some of the worst customer service on record.
In 2013, Amy and Samy Bouzaglo became the first restaurant owners to have Ramsay walked out on them during the show. In Ramsay’s opinion, the Bouzaglos were too hard to work with for a variety of reasons.
To begin with, the couple didn’t take well to the initial feedback. They argued with Ramsay’s findings and didn’t show any willingness to cooperate.
Worst of all, the owners’ approach to customer service was the stuff of news headlines and internet sensations.
Amy and Samy became famous, but for all the wrong reasons. In fact, they were known to regularly post rants on social media, insulting customers and the public. These owners had no compunction about cursing out their customers and kicking them out of the restaurant. And if this wasn’t enough, they were also known to hoard the tips for themselves.
What happened to the Bouzaglos is a perfect example of bad publicity. In fact, their reputation ended up driving the restaurant into the ground.
The owners later claimed that their social media accounts got hacked, and they even hired a PR company to fix the damage… But it was too late. As a result, Amy’s Baking Company officially closed in 2015.
You may think that this is an extreme example, but it shows the dire consequences of poor customer service.
The truth is that there are many business owners, apart from these two, who commit common and often costly customer care mistakes.
For your business, prevention may be better than the cure. Here are the mistakes that you should look out for.
1. Assuming That You’re Providing a Great Customer Experience
This is easily one of the most prevalent mistakes committed. Some business owners believe that their customer service is already outstanding, so there’s no need to change anything.
According to a Bain & Company survey, 80% of businesses share this mindset. But when the same questions were asked to their customers to see if they shared the same opinion, that number took a precipitous dive to only 8%.
As mentioned in NVM’s report, today’s customers put a lot of stock in their relationships with various brands. People’s needs are constantly changing, and it’s your duty to keep up with them.
Besides, the moment you think that any part of your business is perfect is when you’ll become complacent. Once you stop making progress, the only way left to go is down.
The moral of the story is that you should always challenge your approach to customer experience. Moreover, you should continue to find new ways to strengthen the relationships you have with the people spending money with you.
2. Focusing on Transactions Instead of Transformation
What do you do when someone buys from you?
The truth is, most businesses don’t do much after a purchase is made. Their customer service mostly focuses on problem-solving.
However, don’t wait until there’s a problem to start building relationships with your customers.
Most businesses have a tendency to land a new customer, then forget about them. They focus on the transactions more than anything else. They sell a product or service to someone, and immediately move on to converting other leads.
This is what creates the high percentage of serial switchers… If your customers get the impression that you’ve forgotten about them, they’re likely to leave for another brand that’s willing to put in the effort.
So, how do you keep your customers from leaving?
Start by focusing on transformation. Your product or service should bring positive changes to your customers’ lives. The goal should be to give each customer more than what they expect from your offer.
And after that initial “WOW!” factor, you’ve got to continue to nurture this excitement.
That’s how you can keep your customers happy in the long run. When a recession hits, those enthusiastic customers are the ones who will stay loyal and keep you afloat.
3. Not Creating Personal Connections
Building personal relationships with your customers is key to retaining them.
People don’t want to feel like they’re dealing with an institution – they’d much rather deal with other people. In other words, customers crave forming meaningful connections with you.
This is especially important for B2B products or services. It wouldn’t be wrong to describe the business world as an inherently cold place, which is why your business clients seek helpful friends and allies.
In many cases, simply sending out a handwritten note to a client to mark an important date can be enough. Rather than feeling like another cog in the machine, the client will form the impression that you really care about them.
Make no mistake, this feeling can be incredibly powerful.
Clients will have a much harder time leaving someone they have a strong personal relationship with. In fact, this can often matter more than the quality of your product or service. As long as the customers feel they’re important to you, you can expect them to be loyal.
4. Not Learning to Sell Without Selling
What does your sales process look like? Do you give your salespeople a script that contains multiple pitches?
If this is your strategy, you need to know that this is an outdated approach to sales that won’t contribute to long-term satisfaction… And can actively hurt the customer experience.
You see, customers don’t like it when salespeople throw a canned pitch at them. Even if this were to result in a sale, it likely wouldn’t get you a happy repeat customer.
You might be able to get away with this when the economy is thriving and many people can afford to buy from you, but as soon as a recession hits, you’re going to have to rely on existing clients. The process of creating repeat buyers starts with your first sales meeting or call.
Since purchasing decisions are emotional, people tend to rationalize their decision only after buying. If they’re not happy with what they got, cognitive dissonance kicks in as a result of conflicting thoughts. The customer may come to regret their decision, and you can forget about them buying from you again any time soon. Their doubt and regret have soured the entire customer experience.
Therefore, you need to reinforce to the client that they made a good purchasing decision. A great way to do this is to sell without actually selling.
You can achieve this on the first sales call by asking clients about their needs and educating them about your product. This means that you don’t go into it pitching or talking about how awesome your offer is. Instead, you supply the information and allow clients to come to the conclusion on their own (something easily achieved with the right questions).
Not only will sales become easier, it will also make people more confident in their decisions. This readily translates to a boost in long-term happiness.
Focus on the Long Term Customer Experience
Here’s a simple question that ties all of these things together:
Do you focus more on what happens before or after the sale?
I’m willing to venture you already know which is more preferable. Although you must close deals and make sales to stay in business, those are the short-term benefits. They are often highly dependent on the economy.
To become more immune to market conditions, you must secure and lock in your customers. The best way to do this is to keep them happy for as long as they’re with you.
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