Marketing is broken. At least in the traditional sense.
Focused on customer acquisition, promotions and sales volumes, traditional marketing views customers as “targets” to be arrowed.
Bigger, bolder and flashier campaigns are launched to attract their rapidly diminishing attention while carrots like discounts, freebies and lucky draws are dangled to coax them to open their wallets.
The thing which perpetually puzzles me is this:
Why are we spending so much time, money and effort to attract new customers while we hardly do a thing to impress our existing pool of customers?
Don’t we already know that a loyal customer can be far more profitable than a new one, especially if he or she can also be our advocate?
Rather than pursue “shiny, bright customers” who may exit just as quickly as they arrive, why don’t we invest in building our current customer relationships? After all, loyal lifetime customers yield a lot more value than flash-in-the-pan new ones.
To do so, let me introduce a 7 point plan revolving around the acronym FACTORS, ie Feel, Acknowledge, Care, Timeliness, Ownership, Relate and Share. With this acronym in place, companies and their staff will find it easier to incorporate these values in their service processes and standards.
First, you need to make an effort to understand how your customers are feeling. What are the emotions welling through their hearts as they interact with your business or your brands?
Is your customer likely to be in a positive state of mind after transacting with you? If not, how can you improve the way you engage them?
Nobody likes to be ignored, especially a customer parting with his or her hard earned cash.
Find a way to show how much you appreciate his or her patronage. Beyond flashing a megawatt smile, learn as much as you can about them – their names, interests, quirks, favourite colours/flavours, etc – and give your service a personal and direct touch.
You’ll be surprised how powerful a personal greeting can be!
Demonstrate true customer care by eliminating pain points. This can be as simple as reducing the number of steps needed to complete a transaction to extending credit to a trustworthy old customer.
Caring for one’s customer also means pointing out that a product may not be suitable for him or her even though he or she is at the point of purchase (for example, an ill fitting dress or a gadget too advanced for a tech newbie). Yes I know that this sounds counterintuitive, but trust me, your prospect will appreciate you for that and find ways to return the favour.
There are several interpretations of “being timely” in the context of customer experiences.
While we should reduce the need for queues to order food or make payments, there are certain instances where customers may actually desire more time in your premises (for example, while having a romantic dinner with his significant other). When this happens, you could perhaps extend greater flexibility to them subject to your operational constraints of course.
Ownership requires one to demonstrate empathy with what one’s customer goes through. It means designing systems, processes, and environments with the customer’s comfort in mind.
Ownership also means visualising what one would like – or dislike – as a paying customer and ensuring that negative touchpoints are minimised or eliminated.
Lastly, ownership requires one to take personal responsibility for any issues faced by one’s customer. It means finding a satisfactory solution in the most expedient manner.
Find a way to weave positive stories into your customer interactions. Develop little narratives around your company mission, values, history and products in a way that your customer can relate to.
Even better, make positive customer testimonies a part of your story by capturing and immortalising these encounters on your communication channels.
Finally, make it easy for your customers to spread the word around. This can be as simple as creating a “share” button on your website or Facebook page, to giving little coupons that customers can pass around to their friends and family members.
You can also encourage them to “like” your business – either online through social networks or physically through compliments written on a guestbook.
Start paying greater attention to how your customers interact with you today. Make every encounter a memorable and delightful one which extends beyond the cash register.
You’ll be surprised how these simple FACTORS can make a huge difference in your marketing and customer care efforts.