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How to Build Long Lasting Customer Connections
It is becoming increasingly important for businesses and brands to build a connection with their customers on a personal level to better understand their needs and create long term customer retention.
To personalise the customer experience and increase customer engagement opportunities, this can be easily achieved by businesses collecting the right customer information. This could be achieved from using implicit data which is where information that prospects do not provide intentionally such as customer actions and behaviours eg. across your digital platforms. Or explicit data – where data is provided intentionally via a survey or registration form containing where the customers are from, demographics, what are their interests or website browsing behaviours. This also allows for businesses to develop the right tailored content and/or marketing campaigns to encourage customer engagement.
The success of personalisation and creating customer connections will only be as good as the accuracy of the customer’s data and cleanliness of it. It is therefore important for businesses to regularly cleanse their data at least a couple of times each year. This could involve removing bad data such as duplicate names, numbers, spam, dormant contacts from database warehouse and checking systems to improve the quality of the data capturing process.
The important step for businesses is to know what and how to use this data to create improved and emotional connections with their customers. Here are my top tips to create customer connections:
1. Not one-size-fits-all approach
Customers all have different needs, so businesses need to develop a tailored marketing approach to make customers feel their needs are being met.
Customer segmentation is key for businesses to achieve a tailored marketing approach. Typical customer segmentation software such as Experian's Mosaic, SproutSocial and Qualtrics' CustomerXM can help with this. Some CRM systems with marketing automation also do include an inbuilt customer segmentation tool, such as Braze, Hubspot, Active Campaign and even Mailchimp.
Utilising these tools allows businesses to create a more segmented and personalised 1:1 approach in their messages and x-selling/up-selling opportunities. Paid digital media and traditional advertising is important to make customers feel as though the advertisements are directed at them and not to everyone else. So using a segmented approach is critical.
2. Promptness to bad customer concerns
The faster a company can respond to any bad customer concerns, the higher the customer walks away feeling happy with their overall customer experience and will ultimately return. This is basic 101 in customer service! If it is poor customer experience and unresolved it will turn customers off for life, including the flow on effect through word of mouth.
Businesses need to also keep a handle of their overall response times, poor customer service ratings and the negative impact this can have on their brand’s performance. The measuring of customer service metrics is important to see where improvements can be made and should be done monthly.
3. Managing customer expectations
If all of the above steps have been followed, it should be easy for businesses to better understand what their customers are looking for to create the best experiences. A big part of this, is anticipating their customer’s needs through propensity and predictive analytics to understand buyer behaviours and what their next step might be.
Predictive analytics such as using standard statistics, machine learning and AI to look at previous data patterns and predict what will happen next. Companies can use predictive analytics to determine prices for their products or to send offers to customers. Some popular predictive analytics tools include SAP Analytics Cloud, SAS Advanced Analytics and RapidMiner.
This can also be done from feedback on customer survey and using that small sub-set of data to then develop and test hypotheses on a larger population group.
4. Utilising marketing automation tools
There are options for businesses to use a standalone marketing automation tool alongside a CRM system or they can use the CRM that already includes an integrated marketing automation platform to implement personalisation for all their customer touch points. Standalone marketing automation tools include Adobe Marketing Cloud and HubSpot Marketing Hub. CRM platforms with integrated marketing automation tools include Microsoft Dynamics 365 Marketing and Oracle Marketing Cloud.
These type of CRM tools, can automate the sending of SMS/push notifications to customers, or producing targeted media ads utilising customer segmentation and preferences as well as email marketing and social media engagement. This is by far the best approach vs. manual intervention such as sending out emails one by one. The result is that businesses build trust with their customers through consistency and relevancy of communications.
Marketing automation software also enables businesses to track through the funnel leads, drop offs and the lead nurturing communications (emails/SMS). It is vital to know this to optimise and mitigate losing potential prospects and therefore improve the overall performance of the engagement opportunity.
5. Customer personas and empathy maps
Incorporating empathy in your customer strategy, enables businesses to improve communication and personal connections with customers. When a company uses empathy to understand how the customer feels, what makes them upset, what they value and how they want to connect, it can use the information it learns to strengthen customer relationships.
Here is an example of an empathy map below. As you can see it is visualisation tool of what a company knows about its customers and is broken down into what a customer says into 4 quadrants: says, thinks, does and feels. Companies can then use these empathy maps to create a visualisation of what they know about the customer, to better understand their needs and help with decision-making. A visual of the customer is placed in the centre of the visual map to give the company a complete view of each defined customer persona. This could also be over-layed against customer segmentation modelling developed.
Says: This could be what a customer says about the brand: “This new product upgrade really meets my expectations to do what I need to do."
Thinks: This is what the customer may think, "Why am I not understanding how to work this product?"
Does: This is the action the customer takes e.g. "Using the comparing prices and product tool on website."
Feels: This is the emotional feeling and could be an adjective plus a short sentence describing why they feel a certain way, e.g. "OMG this is taking ages to purchase this product online and is frustrating.”
Businesses should continually revise and adjust empathy maps to keep them up to date.
6. A simple thank you
A simple “Thank you” with no strings attached (such as trying to upsell a product or service), can go a long way to making a customer feeling appreciated. And as we know, if a customer is happy this in turn creates customer advocacy, through word of mouth via family and friends, thus ultimately improving a business or brand’s reputation.
This could entail a simple thank you via email or direct mail or a strategy involving contacting customers regularly and promoting their accomplishments on social media by using personalisation of messages.
Customers are sharp so it’s important the message is not generic and is customized and personalised to the customer (eg. using first name, date of first purchase). This could be a birthday or anniversary for being a valued customer by giving a special gift or coupon using a discount code. Companies can use a corporate giving platform -- such as Sendoso, Alyce and Gift My Client -- that offers API integration with the company's CRM system, gift tracking and customization of gifts to customers.
7. Focus on face-to-face interactions
Face to face interactions will reduce any customer miscommunication and in turn creates and increases a more meaningful connection vs. customer calls, emails or texting chatbots. Face to face could be achieved through physically meeting a customer face to face, video conferencing or hosting a webinar.
DataClique Marketing can help your business further refine and develop the right customer connection strategies by getting in touch with Leeann Ellison, Founder/CMO. Click below.
Author: Leeann Ellison