It’s a customer experience manager’s job to keep an eye on the big picture of satisfaction: the various programs in place, the ever-updating customer data and information, and the overall strategies to attract and retain customer loyalty.
But when any given customer walks through your doors, calls up your customer service, or engages with you online, what they’ll notice is all the little things your business does to make the customer experience better.
And when those customers talk to their friends and family, they won’t be waxing poetic about strategy and data, or using words like attrition and retention. Instead, they’ll be highlighting all those little things they’ve noticed as compelling reasons to choose your business.
Think of it like this: you can buy your spouse the most expensive gifts, lavish them with compliments, and profess your undying love with a big romantic gesture, but it’s the little day-to-day effort and attention that keep the romance alive and serve as proof of how much you value them.
You can probably think of a few little things your preferred businesses and brands have done to earn your repeat business. Here are some examples of small but significant actions your business and staff can take to drive customer loyalty:
- Adopt an attentive attitude.
It doesn’t matter how stressed, fatigued, bored, or otherwise distracted a customer service representative may be – a genuinely friendly greeting and undivided attention go a long way in making the customer feel valued. If the rep has to interact with a computer or device to provide service, eye contact becomes even more important to reassuring the customer that they have your attention. No customer likes being made to feel like an inconvenience.
- Be prompt and personal.
Customer service requests come in from all directions – in-person, by phone, by e-mail, by web form or chat service, and even via social media. Customers expect you to reply promptly on all of these channels. An automatically-generated “We have received your request and will get back to you shortly” message is the digital equivalent of being put on hold, but even that is better than a customer sending an email into a black hole “info@company” inbox and never getting a reply.
- Surprise them.
The previous two items on this list represent customers’ baseline expectations of service, but to really earn points with them, go above and beyond the basics. At one hotel, a customer called to reserve a room for a visit during which she’d be undergoing cancer treatment, and mentioned in passing that she’d always wanted to go whale watching. Imagine her surprise and delight to find a stuffed whale on her bed at check-in!
- Give ground.
A customer who brings an issue, complaint, or concern to a rep’s attention wants to walk away feeling like they’ve won, even if the concession is small. This might mean issuing a discount or coupon, cutting a unique deal or waiving a fee, or delivering a heartfelt and personal apology if the issue simply can’t be addressed or was unavoidable. These gestures show customers that you care about keeping their business and will do what it takes to stay in their good graces.
- Make every customer feel like a regular.
Through customer data, you likely know who your most and least valuable customers are. But the customers themselves want to feel equally valued from the outset, rather than feeling they have to earn your attention and care. First-class or coach, regular, intermittent, or first-time customer, “rewards” member or not, they deserve the best service you have to offer.
Remember, customer loyalty starts at home, within your own walls. It’s hard to create a memorable experience that influences customer loyalty without a company culture that supports it with engaged, enthusiastic employees. Give them a scratch behind the ears, too, while you’re at it, and watch the goodwill spread to your customers.
How do you know what’s working? Listen to the Voice of the Customer. The open-ended options on customer feedback tools are the perfect place to look for comments on these little things that customers appreciate (or find lacking). A strategic VoC program empowers you with knowledge of the key drivers of customer loyalty and satisfaction.