Finding Customer Success at the Intersection of Mobile and Loyalty
Originally published by Loyalty 360 on June 1st, 2015.
Ask any CEO about his or her most important asset, and he or she will tell you one thing: the customer. In order for a business to thrive, or even survive, attracting and retaining customers is crucial.
That means that, above all else, we need to be in the business of making customers happy. We’re all in Customer Success. Yet somewhere between the corporate hierarchy and the 5,000 marketing messages with which a customer is bombarded each day, things can get a little muddled. The customer, a company’s number one asset, is demoted from a human being to a data point with a dollar value assigned.
It’s at this point that brands fall out of touch with their customers, and it’s at this point that neither party is successful.
Of course, there’s a reason why so many companies stray from the path of customer success: it’s seen as an added cost. Each time you make yourself available to reactively listen to your customers, you’re spending support dollars – in time and energy spent responding to support calls, emails, and tweets. In contrast, each time you talk to your customers – each time you send a push or an email blast or a display ad – you’re presumably generating sales. It’s no wonder, then, why so many companies make brand communication wholly a one-way ordeal, particularly in the mobile and online environments.
Relegate customer success to an automated loop of FAQs and templates, and you can free up resources to focus on those activities that actually generate revenue.
Think about your favorite retailer. Go into any of their stores, and you know exactly what to expect – exceptional service and some sort of conversation, whether it’s in the form of a greeting at the door, an offer of assistance, or just a friendly smile.
Leading brick-and-mortar retailers realize the importance of exceptional service and set themselves apart from their competition largely on the basis of the customer experience they provide. Ask anyone why they’re loyal to certain stores or restaurants, and you’ll hear an overwhelming number of responses pertaining to feeling engaged and cared for on a personal level, answers that are transcendent of both product and price. Customers want exchanges that treat them not as a transaction to be made, but as a genuine, meaningful relationship to be fostered.
Yet, how many can say they have similar emotional ties to a website or mobile app? The reality is that most brands are missing the mark when it comes to mobile. They’re myopically focused on building a truly exceptional in-store experience, but that experience ends the moment the customer walks out the door.
I believe there’s another way, a better way, to handle the digital experience – one that transcends the traditionally impersonal nature of technology, and one that turns ‘talking to’ (or more precisely, ‘talking at’) into a two-way ordeal. A conversation.
In order to inspire real and reciprocal loyalty, a company has to be invested in keeping the conversation going and listening to and engaging the customer. And this means being available at a time and place convenient for customers.
Fortunately, with the ubiquity of mobile, creating and managing a channel for this sort of open communication has never been easier, more affordable, or more scalable. We’re already seeing hordes of mobile apps and e-commerce sites leveraging in-app and online customer feedback and communication. But what about the average business? Why should a company that traditionally has neither a strong digital presence nor a particularly strong aspiration for digital care about mobile customer communication?
To address this point, consider this: The average American checks his or her mobile device an incredible 110 times a day.
That’s 110 opportunities to engage your customers where they already are and 110 opportunities to spread customer success.
Regardless of how important mobile is to your business strategy, it is important to your customers. From researching, to ordering, to processing returns, to redeeming loyalty program rewards, your customers expect to use mobile at each stage of their journey.
What’s even more powerful is that customers prefer to communicate with their favorite brands from the simplicity of an app. They’re seldom more than a few feet away from their mobile devices and expect to be able to solve or report any customer issues with a few taps rather than dealing with a call center or flagging down a manager.
Take for example one of the world’s leading hoteliers, who I am fortunate enough to call a delighted Apptentive customer. Since their earliest days in mobile, their guests expected the company to be present and available this space. Just a few weeks after we started working together, while learning about how they were using our in-app communication tools to communicate with their customers, they shared the following story:
A guest had interacted with a hotel concierge and felt, at the end of the exchange, that the concierge had bilked them out of $100. As you might imagine, the guest was livid and very close to becoming a “lost customer.”
Because the guest had booked the reservation through the mobile app, this was where they chose to voice a complaint. There, inside the app, the customer was presented with a “contact us” button, which brought up a field prompting guests to leave feedback for the hotelier. The guest explained, in great detail, the events. This message quickly found its way to the hotelier’s support team, who reached out directly to the customer. After apologizing and assuaging the customer’s concerns, they made the situation right and ended up creating a deeply loyal guest.
Because they were available on the customer’s device, the hotelier was able to listen, understand, and take action to remedy a customer’s issue where and when the customer desired.
Can you say the same thing for your brand?