Business success depends on satisfied customers. 78% of consumers have ended a business relationship due to bad customer service. It's also estimated that it costs a company six to seven times more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one.
In many ways, customer service is the new marketing. 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated. Excellent customer service leads to brand loyalty, a huge competitive advantage to companies. On average, loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase.
So how can companies build brand loyalty? Author Gary Vaynerchuk answered this question in his book, The Thank You Economy:
"It's very logical: There is proven ROI in doing whatever you can to turn your customers into advocates for your brand or business. The way to create advocates is to offer superior customer service."
Here are four steps to creating brand advocates through customer support:
1. Make Information Accessible
According to a recent study, 55% of respondents indicated easy access to information and support can make them fall in love with a brand. This provides a welcome opportunity for businesses. Self-service support sites enable customers to answer their own questions anytime, anywhere.
Also, when executed properly, self-service leads to a more personalized and profitable customer experience. Create a space, like an online community, where customers can easily access the answers they are looking for. Also, build a knowledge base that addresses popular questions and encourage customers to engage in Q&A with your brand (and fellow customers). Odds are many prospective customers have the same questions so why not provide a consistent answer on your site?
2. Anticipate Customer Needs
68% of organizations are using branded communities to offer customer support. However, building an online community isn't enough to ensure customers become advocates. Organizations must implement a customer-centric approach. They must position their communities as a resource where the audience can find relevant content, ask questions, and benefit from engagement with others.
As a best practice, listen to what your customers have to say and create a community using that insight. Once you understand their interests, pre-populate support sites or communities with frequently asked questions, and update your knowledge base to ensure customers leave with a satisfactory support experience.
3. Be Consistent
American Express reported that customers will spend 14% more with a company they believe delivers excellent customer service. One excellent support experience isn't enough to create brand advocacy; customers should leave happy every time they come to a support site with a question. To consistently deliver a valuable customer experience, monitor keywords being searched or questions being asked and expand your knowledge base accordingly. Ensure no question goes unanswered and the same question does not get asked more than once. The goal is to constantly improve the customer experience through an effective and informative online community. The more your knowledge base expands, the more your SEO improves.
4. Solicit Feedback
Happy consumers become loyal customers. To maintain high customer satisfaction levels, remember to keep the conversation going with your audience. For example, send email surveys regularly to understand the challenges and questions of your customer base. Or, ask customers to rate the effectiveness of your support site or online community. Let them guide you in your efforts to create an enjoyable customer service experience.
Customer support presents an opportunity beyond increasing sales. Effective customer service can turn one customer into your brand's greatest, and most loyal, supporter. When creating a support strategy, consider why customer loyalty is important to your business and how you can create an experience that transforms new and existing clients into brand advocates.
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