This is the second of two articles written by Tony Young about keeping your customers satisfied.
Does going the extra mile really cement the customer experience? Can one angry customer potentially damage the livelihood of a business? 96 percent of bad customer service experiences are from people how do not vocalise directly to the business. They are actually more likely to never use that business again rather than send a formal complaint. Some SMEs do not have the financial standing or HR backbone that large organisations have in order to recover from reputational damage and therefore need to be particularly careful about how they engage with their customers. In Part One of ‘Getting Customer Satisfaction’ AAMI discussed how to establish your customer base and to effectively engage with them. But how does a small business owner maintain the unique product or service experience to ensure that their customers feel appreciated? Sometimes, all it takes is a little loyalty.
Making the customer feel unique
You’re the reason we fly is the latest interactive advertising campaign run by Qantas airlines. It features television commercials and interactive adshel displays in Sydney’s subway. When customers download their application they are able to view their image and name on a 3.5 wide interactive display when they are in front of them. This latest campaign is an attempt to evolve the pre-existing relationship that Qantas has with its customers after a series of security scares on their airline.
The personalisation of the digital adshels and addressing the customers directly with the words ‘You’ and ‘You’re’ distinguishes and acknowledges the contribution of each individual customer and makes them feel appreciated. Obviously Qantas is in the position of having a budget to roll out a campaign like this, however, on smaller turf and with a fraction of their budget, a small business owner can create a loyalty program which gives incentives back to its customers and thanks them for their engagement with the company.
Loyalty can be as simple as posting regular customers a 10 percent discount voucher in the mail. When they feel like they are valued they will, in turn, return to the business to follow up their next sale using their discount offer. If you are stuck for ideas for a loyalty program think about the companies that you are also a loyal customer for – FlyBuys, Myer One, Woolworths? What type of membership do they offer? Do they send discount offers in the mail? How often do they contact you with information about new products and services? You will then start to take notice of your own spending behaviours and formulate your own ideas about what is a good loyalty program.
A good customer service experience
This is when a business owner needs to prioritise between service and selling. Of course, daily budgets and ongoing KPIs are going to have more focus in a business situation than updating your Twitter account, but driving the customer service focus home will ensure the budgets and ongoing KPIs are met; less customers = less sales. Good customer engagement involves:
Listening to the customer
Apologising when necessary
Encouraging feedback – surveys, online polls and email is recommended
Dealing with complaints quickly
‘Going the extra mile’
Displaying manners and a sense of empathy
Making first impressions count – body language, attire, tone of voice etc
Bad customer service
Typically, a business only hears back from four percent of its’ dissatisfied customers. It sounds like a small figure but think of it in terms of how many people vocalise their product or service experience to everyone else but your business.
In March 2010, filmmaker/actor Kevin Smith was removed from a Southwest Airline as he was deemed as too fat to sit in his chair. Angered at his far from glowing experience, Smith quickly jumped onto Twitter to recount the matter and within hours news of the event went viral. The airline apologised to the filmmaker but by this stage the story had already tarnished Southwest’s reputation.
Beyond closing the sale
We know that a bad customer service experience can travel faster than an angry #Bashtag campaign, but what about the good stories? Many businesses still receive letters complimenting a good product or service experience, but the problem is that these are the stories you never hear about. We tend to focus on the bad publicity rather than the good publicity. Any positive feedback received by the business can be used as part of future marketing campaigns or publications, such as annual reports as they make for successful commentary and galvanise the strong customer service side of the business:
‘I feel so lucky to have discovered your product. I have been searching for years to find something like this’
‘Every time I enter your store I feel valued and appreciated as a customer’
‘I will be telling all my friends about this’…etc
Remember how far good customer service can travel and unite this knowledge with your engagement strategies when you’re thinking about great customer service between your SME and your consumer.
This article is presented by Australian Associated Motor Insurers Ltd (AAMI, ABN 92 004 791 744), the issuer of AAMI property insurance products. AAMI disclaims that small business operators should obtain their own compliance advice prior to commencing any customer loyalty or marketing program.