Customers have become more connected than ever through the ever-evolving avenues of online feedback: 92% of consumers conduct research online before making a purchasing decision. This makes acquiring customers more complicated than taglines and billboards.
In today’s reputation economy paradigm, customer experience (CX) is the most defining factor in businesses’ future success. Several platforms have recently made crucial CX intel accessible to businesses. To build and retain a loyal customer base, all businesses must leverage these newly available insights and tools, putting customers first and working backwards.
1. Solidify your brand identity. To best serve your customers, you need to clearly establish your value. What is your company vision? What do you provide, and how does this benefit your ideal customer? These answers build the foundation required to scale your business successfully.
2. Know your customers. Create a customer profile–this goes beyond simply age, gender, and marital status. While these traits certainly come into play, depending on the product or service provided, what customers actually want often transcends demographics.
Be sure to understand:
- What will impress them vs. what will confuse them: There’s a difference between cutting edge and excessively overwhelming. You want to prove how your business is unique, but do so in understandable terms that customers who aren’t experts can relate to.
- What state of mind they’re in: A customer has a different attitude when scheduling an oral surgery than they do when shopping for a new car. Know where your customers are coming from so you can meet them there.
Define your customer base and research them thoroughly. Only by knowing expectations can you exceed them.
3. Know your competition and their customer insights. Identify your closest competitors, then study them. What are they offering, and what do their customers like about it? What do their customers dislike? Where could your business earn a leg up? Knowing your competition allows you not only to learn from them, but to differentiate yourself from them.
4. Provide an outstanding customer experience. Delivering a great experience to each and every customer should be top priority. First, understand the difference between customer service and customer experience. Customer experience surrounds the basic business transaction, encompassing all moments before, during, and after a service.
- Can potential customers easily find information about your company?
- Are your employees well-equipped to thoroughly answer customer questions?
- If any complaints followed a transaction, were they promptly addressed and resolved?
Use the insights you’ve gained through researching your customer base to build an experience catered to their specific wants and needs, and leverage customer feedback to adapt and grow your business accordingly.
5. Retain existing customers with a strong online reputation. Keeping the customers you already have is the most cost-effective way to acquire new customers. Do this through:
- Online reviews: Positive or negative, customer reviews are invaluable–92% of customers research a company online before making a purchasing decision. Ask all customers for feedback. Leverage positive reviews as free advertisements on your website and social channels, and take swift corrective action on negative reviews.
- Social listening: Interact regularly with your customers on social channels, sharing relevant information, announcing sales, etc. This builds the familiarity and trust crucial to nurturing consumer relationships.
- Loyalty incentives: Offer exclusive deals to previous customers to let them know you value their business. Be mindful not to bombard customers with irrelevant offers; create promotional content based on customer segments, if possible.
When you’ve set these crucial steps in motion, you’re off to a great start, but it’s just the beginning. To keep customers coming back, you’ll need to improve each step on an ongoing basis.
Listen carefully and watch closely, because customer experience is determined in the blink of an eye.
About Naveen Gupta
Entrepreneur, innovator, executive with experience building startups and managing $100M+ P&Ls at Fortune 500. 2011-2013 at RingCentral. 2010-2011 at Monster. 2005-2010 at Yahoo. 2000-2005 at UTStarcom, fastest growing company, pre-IPO startup to $2.9B revenue in 5 years. Today Co Founder and CEO at BirdEye. Find him on LinkedIn.
With BirdEye, it’s easier than ever to get new authentic customer reviews, building trust that leads to more sales. In today’s reputation economy, BirdEye provides the eyes, ears and algorithms necessary to create the five-star customer experiences that keep your business at the top.