How to delight your customers
Personalise your marketing and improve the bottom line
If you think good customer service leads directly to customer satisfaction, think again.
These days, it's all about "customer delight," says Sheri Bridges, a marketing professor at Wake Forest University in the United States. She defines a "delightful" consumer experience as one so personalised that an individual's preferences and needs are taken into account.
Known variously as customer relationship management (CRM) and one-to-one marketing, personalisation is being practiced by businesses large and small across all sectors of the economy. It relies on technology (personal computers, database-management tools, the internet) to give marketers greater access to and knowledge of their customers than ever before.
This ethos is one that cannot be "installed" at a business, says Martha Rogers, a principal with partner Don Peppers in the Peppers & Rogers Group and a leading CRM guru. It must be "adopted" as an integral part of the company's culture. For sake of explanation, a personalised approach to customer service can be broken into three steps: identifying the customer, learning about the customer, and serving the customer.
Be on target with your marketing
"The essence of good customer service is good targeting," Bridges says. The message here is simple: You don't want to lavish personal attention on customers who aren't going to reciprocate by being consistently good purchasers of your product or service." Go after consumers who appreciate the benefits offered and who show their appreciation by being willing to pay for those benefits," Bridges says.
Here are two keys to targeting the right people:
It's one thing to identify a loyal customer; it's another to cultivate that loyalty. To do that, you have to know your customers.
Knowledge is Power
"To win a customer, you've got to know this customer better than any competitor," Rogers says.
Here are three tried and true ways to learn more about your customers:
The more you know about your customers, Rogers says, the easier it is to ensnare them in "friendly entanglements" that make switching to a competitor much more difficult. Technology makes it possible for these individual entanglements to be institutionalised across the whole of a company, no matter how many business sites it operates.
She's quick to add that there's no reason small businesses can't benefit from technology as well. "There's a lot of technology that's extremely affordable, and there are always ways to [improve upon] what you're doing," Rogers says. "Think of who your customers are and what you need to do to reach them."
Be masters of your universe
In delivering the product or service that lies at the heart of the business-customer relationship, small businesses are at both an advantage and disadvantage.
"They have more of an opportunity because they have immediate control over everything. They face more of a challenge because they lack resources," Zemke says.
"They can have an idea and put it to work without it taking seven years and 42 approvals. But they can't necessarily achieve the degree of performance that a company with 8,000 branches can."
To leverage its competitive advantage in the area of control, Zemke says, a small business should pay attention to three variables:
The bottom line is that good customer service is the bare minimum needed todayCustomer service that "delights" your target audience will help your business thrive and see tomorrow.