“Treat your users as customers and not as mere email addresses.” – Anonymous
Ritz-Carlton. Trader Joe’s. Disney. Costco. Netflix. Ever wondered what these global, multi-billion dollar brands have in common?
They are “customer-obsessed” as Forbes rightly frames it. In fact, it may not be an exaggeration to claim that these companies could make it all the way to the finishing line because they focused on their customers from the starting point.
It is only natural to wonder why customer-centricity is becoming more important than say, even pricing as a competitive advantage in a lot of cases. Here are some facts and findings that will put things into perspective:
1. Poor customer service leads to a dissatisfied customer: As per research by American Express, “More than half of Americans have scrapped a planned purchase or transaction because of bad service. Plus, data also suggests that Americans tell an average of 15 people about a poor service experience.“
So essentially, for every bad customer experience, your business can lose out on as many as 16 customers – which is not ideal from a financial or logical standpoint.
2. Financial losses and poor brand image: According to the Newvoicemedia, “U.S. companies lose more than $62 billion annually due to poor customer service.” This hardly comes as a surprise. A number of factors can lead to lowered financial gains such as bad word-of-mouth publicity, increased customer churn, poor brand recall, unsatisfactory feedback and services, among other things.
Let’s take a look at what companies, particularly digital marketing agencies, can change in the customer-brand equation to create a sustainable and loyal client base.
We have three words for you: enhanced customer support. By leveraging their strong digital presence, agencies can turn the tables around in their favor. Let’s understand how having a rock-solid customer support system and in turn, a loyal customer base, benefit the agency throughout the customer and business lifecycle:
- Creation of a seamless “channel” of communication. For example, social media can double up as a platform for marketing and/or addressing customer concerns.
- Birthing a “collaborative” business environment where everyone – from the employees and customers to the leadership and investors is on the same page (literally and figuratively in this case).
- Equips the employees to handle client concerns in a real-time and swift manner.
Now that we have a better understanding of why digital agencies need to up their customer service game, let’s understand how they can achieve it:
6 Handy Tips For A Happier & Loyal Customer Base
1. It’s All About “Attention”
In today’s “Digital Age,” if driving the company’s goals is ideal, advancing your client’s objectives via an efficient support system is imperative. And to build a fully-functional and truly holistic customer support system, you need to start at the very beginning: Understand your client’s business goals and objectives.
Why is it so important? Simply because you can’t really drive their vision forward if you don’t even know what it is. So, begin your “client-first journey” by noting down and truly imbibing their business goals & objectives. You must be arguing with the screen saying “Well, everyone does that.” In response, we say that the magic lies in what lays ahead:
Based upon the business plan and business goals discussed with the client, from the start you should identify key elements such as timeliness, short- and long-terms goals, actionable insights, strategic direction, range of marketing goals, data requirements etc. Call it the blueprint or the master plan, whatever tickles your fancy. But remember that this will help your business understand what direction to forge ahead in so that the shared goals can be achieved as optimally as possible.
Key takeaway: Approaching every client with an eagle’s eye focus and meeting at strategic points to discuss the state of progress will set your agency on the path to success. The higher the attention, the better the quality of communication and of course, the output.
2. External Communication Plans for a Fast-Tracked Path to Success
Creating an external communication plan is the next step in enhancing customer support. This includes an important tool that’s taking online businesses by the storm: Chat support. Simply put, chat support can be the game-changer your business needs. Don’t believe us? Consider this: Around 62% of customers “expect” live chat services on your website, especially if they’re viewing it on their mobile.
Our suggestion is simple: provide guidance to your clients on the integration of modern-day chat support tools such as Live Chat as these offer a bevvy of advantages:
- It helps to streamline daily communication with the visitors on the website.
- It addresses any user concerns in real-time and as quickly as possible.
- It uses bots to cater to routine queries so that the team can focus on solving more complex issues.
- It offers an enriching and more personalized experience to the user, all thanks to the co-browsing and live chat facilities.
Key takeaway: If you’re not integrating and making use of innovative technology (think: Live Chat) to keep your customers happy, you will lose out on more customers and more business along the way. So, create an external communication plan and stick to it as you achieve all your business goals one-by-one.
3. Internal Communication Plans for Intrinsic Growth & Development
At this point, it makes sense to address the changes that need to be made inside the agency. First things first, you will need to assign one employee from every department as the main contact touchpoint. The same needs to be done at the client’s end. As you may have guessed, this kind of a communication pipeline will streamline internal communication between the agency and clients and reduce any scope for error.
Key takeaway: Establishing a clear and centralized communication channel will eliminate the risk of any confusion relating to agency and client goals. It will also help people to understand their roles and responsibilities in a better manner.
4. Training Programs for Smarter & Productive Employees
We all know that Digital Marketing Agencies deal with a client base that’s as diverse as chalk and cheese. Possibly because the clients come from industries across the spectrum. Surely every client will be different, and their needs, even more so.
Naturally, this can lead to a poor service quality if your team is not on the same page and doesn’t operate with the same standards of excellence. The solution? The best way to ensure that all the employees handle clients with the same quality of service is by training them. Simply, the need of the hour is to develop a “Training Program” which:
- Demonstrates expertise tips on how to tackle different kinds of clients.
- Not only trains them on how to develop social media strategies but also tactics on how to nurture and support client needs.
- Trains them to read between the lines, and truly listen to the client requirements and not simply hear them.
- Helps them to understand how to deepen client relationships that go beyond crunching numbers and data.
- Trains them to use digitally innovative tools such as live chat so that their work burden reduces instead of doubling.
Key takeaway: Conducting training programs for agency employees is no longer a choice; it is a must today so that service quality can be maintained.
5. Reporting On Marketing Performance Key To Successful Client Relationships
Reporting on marketing performance is essential to building trust and securing buy-in from your clients on budget allocation. Clients need to understand how you are optimizing their marketing investment and driving traffic, leads and conversions. Communicating marketing results using clear data visualizations allows you to:
- Be transparent with clients on how their marketing efforts are faring.
- Provide insights into specific KPIs performance and recommend what changes/investments need to be made to reach your clients’ goals.
- Deliver strong customer service through engaging with your clients on a regular basis.
- Show the integral value that your agency brings to the table.
Key takeaway: Keeping your clients informed on marketing performance via regular reporting improves communication and provides them with actionable data on which to make decisions. By showing successful results over time, you build trust with your clients which in turn helps your client retention.
6. A Feedback-Driven Approach Can Make All the Difference
Perhaps the most important part of the client service journey comes in the end: “The Feedback Phase.” What agencies need to do is create a mechanism to implement regular feedback collection from clients.
Often times, lack of time and resources is cited as the number one reason why agencies don’t engage in active feedback collection – a fatal mistake if you ask us. By getting an “outside and unbiased view” of how their business is operating, agencies can review past actions and implement changes as suggested in the feedback. If the agency is not continually learning from its mistakes and looking at ways to improve their service/offerings, they might as well shut shop.
Key takeaway: Continuous feedback collection is the only thing that can make or break your client servicing efforts. If you really wish to make the most of this tip, make sure to collect feedback before, during, and after client interactions to get a holistic view of the client service journey.
“We have the technology, finally, that for the first time in human history allows people to really maintain rich connections with much larger numbers of people.” – Pierre Omidyar
As Ken Blanchard aptly puts it: “Just having satisfied customers isn’t good enough anymore. If you really want a booming business, you have to create raving fans.” And with these handy and easy-to-implement tips in your pocket, you’ll be on your way to creating a smiling, sustainable, and satisfied customer base in no time! Or a raving fan, if you’re really up to the task!