In the quest for better analytics, improved efficiency, and lower costs, many companies have forgotten why their customers shop with them. The shopping experience is critical to long term relationships. Customer loyalty begins with positive interactions between your customers and employees.
Technology cannot replace a warm smile, heartfelt “Good Morning!”, or personal email. (There is a difference between “personal” and “personalized”. Fill in the blank, merged emails are personalized. Genuine one-to-one emails are personal.) Efforts to minimize human contact can quickly move from customer relationship management to customer relationship madness.
The failure to connect with customers crosses departments from marketing to operations. On the marketing side, people are grouped into segments and then mass mailed with little regard to their preferences. Most companies honor customer requests to be excluded from their promotions, but stop there. Customers and prospects that opt in are fair game for every mailing, telemarketing campaign, and email blast.
Catalogs can be recycled, emails deleted, and telemarketing calls ignored, but when there is a problem with an order or product, the customer has to initiate contact. Corporate efforts to reduce costs by redirecting calls and emails alienate customers and reduce lifespan and lifetime value.
One best practice is to use technology to match marketing and service with personal preferences. When possible, allow customers to choose their marketing patterns. It will improve your return and reduce attrition. Always provide live support without the hoops for customers with order and/or product challenges. It improves their confidence in your business without significantly increasing costs if your online documentation and support is accurate and detailed. Most customers try to resolve their issues before contacting the company.
Using technology to streamline processes so your employees spend more time one-on-one with your customers is another best practice. Electronic tools are ideal for information management. People are ideal for relationships with each other.