As e-commerce becomes an increasingly overcrowded marketplace dominated by a handful of major brands, businesses are having to think of new ways to stand out from the crowd and attract new customers.
Previously it was commonly assumed that price was the best way to beat the competition, but that just results in a self-defeating race to the bottom.
Instead, businesses are now focusing on the customer experience as a way of differentiating themselves. It's a subject our CEO Ashely Friedlein recently debated in a post looking at whether CMOs should actually be aspiring to become chief experience officers.
And a new survey from Oracle adds weight to the argument that the customer experience is of paramount importance online.
Call it delight, caring, innovation or service, some companies set themselves apart by earning the durable preference of their customers.
If your view is that "life is too short for standard results" then here is what I've learned from business leaders who know how to earn the involvement and loyalty of great customers.
These loved firms grow faster, maintain stronger margins, and navigate downturns better than those firms with customer relationships based on toleration and transaction. And, it turns out, there are patterns to how companies become loved.
The old adage “the customer is always right” applies just as much in a global digital economy.
A recent survey by American Express of international customers found that almost two-thirds were willing to spend slightly more money with a company which provided better service. Others say they expect “excellent service” as standard, and it’s essential to gaining repeat business.
Yet it can be particularly tricky when marketing online, especially across different markets and languages.
Here are seven ways to make sure your customer service isn’t lost in translation:
Acquiring new customers is an expensive process for businesses, so it’s vital that some of them become loyal to the brand and return for repeat purchases.
This not only helps to drive revenue but also could ultimately lead them to become brand advocates, which in turn could help bring in more new customers.
So what helps to drive brand loyalty? This infographic from Zendesk shows that consumers rank quality (88%) and customer service (72%) as the two biggest drivers of loyalty.
However delivering excellent customer service can be difficult in a multichannel world.
Customer service is an area of focus for many companies today, and for good reason. Thanks to the rise of social media, when a company pisses a customer off, they have the ability to tell the world.
That's precisely what Andy McMillan did when he found himself in "Paypal hell."
Those brands that have embraced customer reviews are now starting to look at how they can drive increased engagement with their customers by facilitating, embracing and in some cases participating in customer to customer conversations, to drive sales and advocacy.
With 89% of consumers reading reviews before some or all purchases, most now see reviews as a must-have for brands.
According to a recent Forrester study, only about 37% of brands scored "good" or excellent in customer service reviews.
As customers move more and more online for their primary sources, some brands are struggling to create single-view profiles of their customers, and customer satisfaction is dropping.
Companies like Barclays may be a primary example of those who promote themselves as being digitally forward (especially as it moves into the mobile payment space), but are falling behind in their traditional forms of customer service.
American Eagle (AE) was founded in 1977 and now has over 1,000 stores in the US, Canada, Asia and the Middle East. As more and more customers are moving online, AE has been adopted a strategy of bringing offline to online and vice versa.
When you have a store front, it's much easier to get your offline message out to the customers who love your product. They are already coming in to buy so you have a chance to integrate that experience with an online one or just make them aware you have one!
Order something online from your favorite retailer only to receive the wrong product? Stuck at a crowded airport after multiple flights were cancelled?
In a perfect world, the common occasional mishaps that are to be expected when engaged in commerce wouldn't be such a big deal. They'd be resolved appropriately and quickly with little effort. Unfortunately, we don't live in a perfect world and such mishaps are frequently just the start of a major headache that is caused by poor customer service.
Last year we wrote a post on why customer service is broken, and some of the stats in this infographic from drumbi tell the same story.
For example, 60% of US comsumers don't think companies have tried to improve their customer service, while 80% have abandoned a transaction thanks to poor service.