“There are no traffic jams on the extra mile.”
You’ve probably heard this Zig Ziglar pearl of wisdom before. It’s a quote that entrepreneurs and leadership gurus have been trotting out for decades to illustrate how much customer service can help a business to stand out against lazy or lackluster competitors.
In today’s saturated space, with brand hype and online virality, customer service must be foundational for brands to endure. So it makes sense that this quote resonates with so many customer-centric companies. However, the part about “no traffic jams”? It’s just not true anymore.
We’re in the era of experience loyalty. The “extra mile” might have been wide open when Ziglar first made his observation, but today it’s quickly jamming up with tons of companies that know delivering next-level customer experiences is the best way to stay competitive and win loyal customers.
So, how can you shine above the rest when all of the brands in your space are taking customer engagement and customer service as seriously as you do? Here are three things exceptional brands can do to stand out:
Be Agile, Genuine and Consistent on Social
Customers are turning more and more to social media as their primary channel for engaging and leaving their feedback for brands—both the good and the bad. Not only that, but they expect quality customer service to be waiting for them on social whenever they have an issue. Research reveals that 72 percent of people who complain directly to a brand on Twitter expect a response within one hour—and if they don’t get one, they’re not afraid to show their displeasure by sharing it with the world. This is why Brandify focuses the core of its product offering on real-time response on Social channels.
Avoid the impact of negative reviews by having a process in place to address reviews in a timely, consistent way. Always respond, even if it’s just to apologize and let them know you hope they’ll give you another chance to make things right. Today’s review channels give brands the opportunity to take conversations with customers offline, so dismissing their reviews is more of a missed opportunity than ever. And don’t neglect to nurture the positive reviews with genuine engagement—these interactions serve as a beacon to other customers, with nearly 70 percent of consumers citing positive reviews as a reason to trust local businesses more.
Help Customers Help Themselves
Today’s savvy consumers are willing and able to do the research and troubleshoot their own problems before they reach out. In fact, 67 percent of consumers prefer self-service over speaking to a company representative, and 90 percent expect brands to provide some kind of self-service portal.
If you want to make customer service—and thereby the customer experience—seamless, have plenty of self-service options in place across all channels. Pay close attention to your customer’s journey and path to purchase. This will enable to you to find common points of friction and create opportunities to address them. FAQ pages on your location pages, featured reviews, and even customized hashtags on Social (e.g. #MyBrandFAQ) gives customers more ways to access the right solution, no matter where they’re coming from. From a Local perspective, these strategies are what help to formulate long-term engagement with customers near your locations.
Be a Mind Reader
Okay, okay—you don’t actually have to read minds. But being smart with your data is a great way to fake it. Every single interaction with your customers generates valuable data that can be used to refine and strengthen the overall customer experience. Remember Mobilegeddon? Well now, because today’s customers are multi-screen, multi-channel, and multi-departmental, the big challenge for marketers is overcoming Localgeddon—that is, connecting every data point to real-time situations and context to build a cohesive customer story. It’s the collection and analysis of this data that helps you anticipate customer needs, wants, and expectations so you can be right there to deliver the right things at exactly the right times—earning your customer’s delight along with their business.
Today’s competitive brands don’t make plans to go the extra mile for their customers—they’re already there; that’s where they do business. And it’s true for all brands in every industry, including my own. Local search and the B2B space in general is becoming an increasingly crowded marketplace. This will inevitably lead to a lot of consolidation in the industry, and it’s only the companies that are willing to go the extra mile in terms of their product and their service that will survive. After all, customer service is no longer the cherry on top of an awesome product or service—it’s integral to the customer experience that defines a lasting brand.
This article was originally posted on Business 2 Community. Read it here.