Your customer is the single most valuable asset your company can have and without them, your business does not exist. So, ensuring they feel valued to encourage loyalty to your business should be your top priority. In this article, Tim Morris, the MD of Cymphony, a communications provider helping to build customer relationships from the first interaction, gives his expert advice to franchises on how to make their customer feel valued.
If you would classify your customers as merely satisfied, your business is in trouble. Every customer should feel special, understood, valued, and unique. A genuine connection can help to inspire customer loyalty, as customers who feel valued keep coming back to use your service. In a world where some companies are more concerned with closing a sale than with the happiness of their customers, genuine care is essential. It goes a long way toward establishing the company as a “customer first” entity. So, here are my five top tips to make your customer feel valued:
1. Create a personal relationship
We all know that communication is an essential part of business. Quite simply, if you cannot communicate with your consumer, you cannot do business. A business needs to communicate responsively, clearly and with understanding. Even AI development needs a human in the loop. So, why is it that so many businesses are happily handing over their communication to chatbots and automated systems? The benefits of having a trained enquiry-handling professional are numerous for a business: they make the company more approachable, allow you to maintain a brand personality and, perhaps the most important one for me, it alleviates stress for the consumer.
At Cymphony, we believe in the ‘power of the personal’. What does this mean? It means that unlike most communication providers, we believe that enquiry handling with a personal touch and forming a relationship with consumers is the most important thing. We do this by being personal, human and genuine – making first impressions count for businesses. That could be anything from answering with a friendly tone, giving helpful information, or something as basic as not missing a call. These are all things that are invaluable to building those precious customer relationships which bring repeat purchases over the long term.
2. Give your customers what they want
Giving your consumers what they want when it comes to providing customer service is vital. In fact, in a recent survey, it was revealed that 86% of people prefer to interact with human customer service agents1. A trained human operator is preferred because they can answer a multitude of questions and enquiries quickly and efficiently. This is something that chatbots struggle with, especially when facing a complex and specific enquiry.
Human operators also provide a welcoming voice, giving the perfect greeting to put the consumer at ease. It is often obvious you are dealing with a pre-programmed chatbot due to their inauthentic responses that prevent you from feeling truly understood. When a customer feels worried about a service, they need a reassuring voice at the end of the line, not an automated one. Using chatbots can lead to your customers feeling frustrated and annoyed, two words you do not want associated with your franchise.
Remember, there is no better way to show you understand your customers than through your tone of voice, branding and marketing, and even the best customer service can be undermined by the wrong tone of voice. The words used or how they are expressed can say a lot about how customers perceive your attitude. A human operator can help your business get this right from the off.
3. Make it easy for people to use your service
When a customer contacts your franchise, they most likely do not have the time or patience to go through a long-winded and complicated process to fulfil their enquiry. So, making life as easy as possible for your customer is vital.
In today’s digital world, customers rely on having diverse touchpoints with a brand during their customer journey. By having a multichannel, also known as omnichannel customer service, you will be able to provide a seamless, consistent and personalised experience to your customers on the channel or device most convenient to them.
According to a study by Accenture, 89% of consumers experience frustration in repeating their questions to multiple representatives – so eliminating this is one of the most effective ways to improve customer service2. With today’s advances in technology, companies can do this by integrating all their online and offline communications into one omnichannel platform. By uniting text, social, and website under one roof, you will guarantee consistent, quality service from the right team member, no matter how the customer chooses to get in touch.
4. Be responsive
Customers are no longer willing to wait days or even hours to resolve a query. According to research from Forrester, live assist channels and engagement tools achieve much higher satisfaction ratings, and companies are increasingly using visual engagement tools to deliver the real-time service people crave2. I understand that answering phone lines and responding to emails quickly can be a struggle for busy franchises at the best of times. When you add to this the difficulties of reduced staffing due to sickness, people working from home and a higher level of customer enquiries, it is no wonder teams are stretched.
However, taking calls and responding to messages is crucial. A survey of 1,600 businesses from BT found that, on average, a missed call loses a UK business a massive £1,2002. Remember, in many cases, if you do not respond, customers do not take long to find an alternative through online recommendations and reviews. So, you can alleviate the possibility of your franchise missing enquiries by prioritising responding to messages within a minimum 12-hour window, by simply outsourcing your work to a communications provider.
5. Show your customers empathy
Because some consumers will be incredibly shy, anxious, and even nervous when it comes to approaching your business with a problem or concern, it is important to show empathy. Consumers will be contacting your franchise for a variety of reasons, so ensuring you have an operator who can be empathetic to their problems is important. The last thing a customer wants when calling with an issue is to be stuck on the line with a set of automated options. Sensitive situations require a personal approach. Whether someone is calling with a query, complaint or problem, speaking to an untrained call handler or an automated system usually results in an extremely frustrated person who is reluctant to use your services again.
The personal approach to enquiry handling has numerous benefits for a franchise looking to increase customer satisfaction. Making sure that your service goes the extra mile for customers by providing a more personal customer service is what will set your franchise apart from the rising number of companies looking to adopt automated and, quite frankly, impersonal systems of communication.
About the author:
Tim Morris is the MD of Cymphony, a communications provider helping thousands of clients to build customer relationships from the first interaction. Cymphony’s vision is to provide an exceptional inbound customer experience for all businesses in the UK.
1 CGS, 2019, CGS Survey Reveals Consumers Prefer a Hybrid AI/Human Approach to Customer Service.
2 Cymphony, 2021, The real cost of missing a customer call