How do you make decisions? When you purchase new clothes, shop for a car or decide what to order in a restaurant, you consider multiple factors before making your final decision. And, lo and behold, price is not always the main differentiator. Even more stunning – quality is not the main differentiator either. These days, customer experience is the primary reason a purchase is made or not made, according to Gartner.
A whopping 78% of consumers have bailed on a transaction or not made an intended purchase because of a poor service experience, per an American Express survey. The good news is that 85% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience, according to a Walker 2020 study.
And that goes for more than a new car or new outfit – an awesome customer experience is key in public relations, social media and digital marketing too. If you’re a PR or marketing professional – or really, if you serve customers in any industry – here are ways to ensure you are providing a top-notch customer experience for your clients:
Get to know your clients – their needs, their pain points, their goals, their dreams, their motivations, when they like to communicate and how. Understand their expectations – whether said or unsaid – and what success looks like to them. And don’t just “kind of” listen while you’re actually thinking of all the ways you’re going to meet their requests. Put your time and energy into active, empathetic listening. Then you can use that information to fuel your efforts. And listening doesn’t stop after doing it once: Conduct regular check-ins to see if your work is hitting the mark, if the goals have changed or if any adjustments should be made.
Be a partner
A lot of bad customer experiences happen when a company acts like a vendor and treats its customers as numbers. That’s a sure-fire turn-off. Approach any client relationship as a partner. You can show that you’re an expert in your field, but don’t lord it over them. Instead of “selling” to prospects, show how you can help them. Once you’ve listened (above) to what they need, you can better collaborate with them to achieve desired results. That way it becomes a relationship instead of a transaction.
Stay up on industry trends
You should be aware of what your clients are thinking about. Read industry news, and pay attention to trends. That allows you to speak knowledgeably about what’s going on with your clients’ businesses. For us in PR, it also ensures we’re ready to leverage news stories for our clients’ benefit and prepares us to roll out marketing campaigns.
From email to phone calls to social media, if a request, complaint or other comment comes in from a client, respond quickly – even if it’s just to say that you’re looking into things and will get back to them. How quickly? 42% of today’s consumers expect a response to online questions within one hour, and 24% within 30 minutes, per Ohio University.
Don’t stop “wooing” your client after you’ve gotten them. Go one step beyond what’s expected.
Then, when you hear what your client wants, do that. If your client wants to pay in a different format, or target different publications, or redirect efforts to drive people to the company’s website – whatever it is, be responsive. If it’s not something your company can do, guide them to a trusted expert that can meet their need. Or, if it’s a request that you can handle internally, even if it requires some changes in services provided, figure out how to make it work. Our clients are always worth it, and our flexibility demonstrates that we value those relationships.
Meet the goals you set
This may seem obvious, but sometimes goals are outlined in the initial proposal and then rarely revisited throughout the course of the year or agreement. Without constant alignment, the targets will fluctuate or not be understood consistently by all members of the team. Then, when it’s time to review the work done, the results probably won’t hit the originally outlined goals. Yes, you may have done 20 other things that were awesome and were outside the original plan, but if the client didn’t understand that it would affect the previously stated goals, it could be seen as wasted time and a failure to get the important stuff done.
This also applies to the small stuff: If you promise a document by 2:00 on Wed., make sure it’s delivered by that time. Or if you set a meeting at 8:30 on Tuesday morning, make sure you’re there a little ahead of time and prepared for the meeting.
Go above and beyond the call of duty
Do all the things you have promised to do (see above point), and then do a little something extra. One of our core values is to “be an active marketing partner.” For us, that means being proactive – seeing around the curves and determining what next steps should be. Providing additional value inspires loyalty and helps your clients feel appreciated. It might be an introduction to a key contact in your client’s industry, or turning a PR placement into an email or direct mail piece, or coming to your client with a new marketing strategy. Just don’t stop “wooing” your client after you’ve gotten them. Go one step beyond what’s expected.
What are you looking for in your customer experience?