For businesses to develop strong customer loyalty, they need to cultivate active and insightful business-to-customer relationships. As is true in any relationship, good communication is the key. Everyone likes those who stay in touch in meaningful ways. They especially appreciate it when someone consistently adds value to the relationship through relevant conversation.
But nobody likes the kind of fair weather friend who only occasionally calls because they need a favor. That’s why it’s vital for businesses to engage customers not just at the point of sale – but with ongoing dialog that nurtures deeper rapport.
Consider, for instance, the immense value that customers represent in the design and development of new products and services. When the customer is involved throughout the developmental phase, retroactive adjustments – or disappointing product failures – are minimized or eliminated.
Customers constantly guide the creative R&D process and provide invaluable data and insight. Instead of imagining what the customer may want, businesses learn exactly what the customer does want. Using that approach, the product or service can be custom-designed as the ideal solution to the customer’s well-defined, real-world problem.
Those customers are naturally more engaged, interested, and personally invested. They aren’t merely clients any longer, because they have become success partners. They are inspired and motivated to see the product or service succeed, and they act as spontaneous marketing ambassadors.
They spread the word, providing more robust market penetration. Better still, their marketing is supported by the unique credibility and compelling influential power of word-of-mouth recommendation. That kind of advertising, which is simply an organic byproduct of collaboration with the customer through conversation, is priceless.
Businesses in conversation with clients know that the consumer prefers the convenience of online payment portals and smartphone apps. They also want the reassurance of state-of-the-art security through technologies like encryption and tokenization. Plus they want to be rewarded for their loyalty.
Starbucks listened and responded with a mobile payment app option. Customers no longer have to wait in line to pay for their coffee, plus the app integrates an attractive rewards program. The customer is pleased, while Starbucks reaps the benefits of faster payment processing. Meanwhile employees can focus on serving coffee, versus spending valuable time at the cash register.
Some conversations can be longwinded, however, and that includes the ones businesses engage in with customers. For that reason it is wise to prioritize. By leveraging artificial intelligence, for example, it is possible to delegate less productive conversations (such as answering FAQs) to technologies such as chatbots. The customer still feels that their voice is heard, but the business can provide answers without tying up limited human resources.
That’s critical, because actual conversations with real people still rank high on the list of consumer expectations. According to a Google survey, 61% of mobile users still call businesses before finalizing a purchase, especially for high-dollar items. Those are conversations businesses do not want to neglect or miss because they are too busy answering more mundane inquiries.
The best news is that the same technologies that help to facilitate valuable customer dialog also help reduce the workload. That frees-up employees to concentrate on the high-value, personalized conversations that drive sales, grow market share, and fuel revenue growth.