Three Unconventional Ways to Become More Customer-centric
A host of tips and ideas exist for how best to communicate with customers, and the crux of many, if not all, is connecting with prospects on a level that goes beyond buyer and seller. Loyalty programs and special offers work, but if you really want to achieve the one-to-one connection that Jeanne Bliss, president of customer profitability and loyalty consultancy CustomerBLISS, calls customer-centricity, consider implementing the following three tips, and set yourself apart from the masses.
1) Bring down the silo. According to Bliss, there’s no better way to show you recognize your customers and appreciate their business than by giving a face to the oft-anonymous president or CEO of your company. During her tenure as a customer advocate at multichannel marketer Lands’ End, Bliss recalls creating a specific and unencumbered phone line to the president’s office to give customers access to the person whose decision-making process ultimately affects them the most.
2) Make apologies your best policies. One of the most overlooked forms of damage control simply is recognizing a problem and apologizing. Bob Blinick, principal at integrated marketing agency PowerPact, recalls a time where he personally was the unsatisfied party, and the errant company in question could only offer a discount on services. “I didn’t want money off,” he says, “I just wanted somebody to apologize.” He stresses the importance of making amends to his clients as an essential part of the overall understanding of a customer’s experience.
3) Seek out criticism. “Your best friend is the person who is telling you what’s wrong,” says Debra Ellis, president of Wilson & Ellis Consulting, an organizational and management consultancy. Paying close attention to customer service calls with unsatisfied parties to unearth the reason for their disastisfaction as well as reconnecting with lost customers to determine why they defected are two ways to avoid complacency. Because, after all, “If you’re not hearing anything’s wrong, then you get to thinking nothing’s wrong. And something’s always wrong,” Ellis says.