Consumers and B2B purchasers are spoiled for choice. Nearly any product or service they desire is available at the click of a button, in a 100-page catalog, or a short drive away. And they’re spending on those wants and needs. Consider: Retail sales grew 3.8% in 2016 and is predicted to increase between 3.7 and 4.2% in 2017, according to National Retail Federation. And the Institute for Supply Management predicts manufacturing revenue to increase 4.6% and B2B non-manufacturing revenue to increase 4.1% this year, as well.
But that doesn’t guarantee growth for sellers. In fact, while some companies thrive, others stall or fail completely. What do these growth companies do differently than their less successful counterparts? Businesses that flourish tend to use five key strategies to customer engagement and interactions, laying the groundwork for customer loyalty and repeat purchases.
1. Engage, Engage, Engage
Customers want to be served, but they also want to be noticed. They don’t want to feel as if they’re consumers first and people second. In a retail or B2B setting, don’t just pitch the company’s wares; strike up a conversation with the customer and actively listen to what they’re saying. Respond to their questions or comments in detail. This will give them a sense of belonging and help to build trust.
2. Be Available
You never know when your customers are going to need you. B2C businesses should have multiple touchpoints for service, including chat, social, and traditional contact centers. B2B companies will see significant benefits from monthly courtesy calls to their high-value customers, just to check in. Send customers relevant content, such as links to how-to articles, industry news, and product updates. If you’re available to your customers when they need you, they won’t turn to a competitor.
3. Take Advice
You’re never going to survive as a business if you don’t take customer feedback to heart. Feedback helps to highlight problems and opportunities that those within the organization might never notice. Being attentive and concerned, acting on customer input wherever possible, and keeping customers apprised of your actions and outcomes communicates to customers that you’re willing to do whatever it takes to keep their business.
4. Keep Improving
It’s not possible to make every single customer happy all the time. But if you continuously work to improve your customer experience and always aim for fairness and satisfaction, you’ll come out ahead. Complacency is not an option in today’s customer-driven markets.
5. Focus on the Experience
One of the biggest mistakes that a company makes is attributing customer satisfaction to customer loyalty. It’s more complicated than that. Satisfied customers often leave for a competitor that offers a better customer experience—however customers define it: better service, product, price, attentiveness or responsiveness, etc. Customers are driven by their buying experience. So, understand what aspects of your customer experience keeps them loyal to your company and continue to focus on and excel in those areas.