What kind of customer would you want to have? Of course a loyal one, one who is committed to the company or brand, who buys again and again and is ready to recommend you to their friends too. This goal is surely shared by the majority of companies, but how many really invest in creating and maintaining a strong customer relationship? Or is communication with customers mostly the same kind of mass communication, regardless of which stage of the customer lifecycle they are at?
Recently I shopped at a particular online store. The purchase itself went fine, but exchanging the item dragged on painfully. I often had to check with customer service about status of the situation before the item in the right size was finally at my disposal. At the same time, the company in question sent me a couple of times a week new sale messages, which in this situation mostly irritated me. The company clearly didn’t take notice of me as an individual and didn’t make use of the data they possessed to create a better customer experience.
Many companies have selected the customer experience as their competitive advantage and are now investing in its development. In this case, it’s important to understand that the customer experience is not limited only to the purchase itself – as fundamentally important as it is – but instead covers all communication through the entire customer lifecycle. Customer commitment to the company occurs is in fact after the initial purchase.
It’s important to understand that the customer experience is not limited only to the purchase itself but it covers all communication throughout the whole customer lifecycle.
Well-planned and meaningful communication makes the customer feel important and enhances their commitment to the brand or product. In practice, this requires a deep understanding of your customers, systematic marketing planning – and automation.
Increase customer understanding by analysing the data we have about the customer. In addition to the purchase history, demographic data is usually available, as well as information about the customer’s behavior on our web pages: which pages or products they’ve browsed, for how long, what they seem to be interested in. This understanding can be deepened further through analysis of customer feedback.
There are many systems available on the market with which individualized customer service dialogues can be created using of the above mentioned data. In my own example, this would have meant that the incomplete exchange process would have been noted and I would not have been sent any new offers before the existing matter had been taken care of.
There are numerous ways to approach a customer after a purchase and subtly get them committed to the brand. After an order confirmation, the customer can be welcomed with a special message that shares more details and features about the product and for example, offer links to related sites, discussions or videos. The customer can be asked for their feedback and product evaluation later. It’s worth tempting the customer to make additional purchases in an individualised manner instead of basic spam: for the new bike owner - winter tires are offered in the autumn, or for the new skis owner - ski maintenance is offered in the spring.
The customer must not be seen as only a row on an e-mail list. There is no point in collecting data if it’s not used. Instead, meaningful and individualized communication increases the value and profitability of the customer relationship. Tools and methods for this exist. Each company just needs to envision how they want to handle their customer relationship and do so with determination, learning all the time.
Many competitors already do.
Marko Filenius (MBA) has nearly 20 years of experience in the electronic business field. His perspective on customer relationship management has been deepened by experience in the media field, development within mobile services and development within the marketing and analytical technology field. At the moment, he is responsible for the medium-sized ecommerce business, Descom Ltd.