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Insights

Try a little tenderness… It’s a relationship.

14 February, 2015 - Source: Else

From advice to purchase - how to ensure the consumer experience is personalised and more cohesive.
The products we engage with are becoming ever more complex. We seek advice to ensure we make informed decisions about life choices be it a mortgage, a car or wedding. We’ve become dependent and with that, vulnerable. 

 

This vulnerability makes us nervous when seeking advice and we want to ensure we are making the right decisions for us. Why have you invested in your business, assigned values and established a tone of voice? It’s to make more profit. The customer is all too aware of this and importantly they don’t mind. In fact they’ll give you more information or money if they know, like and trust you. There are many components to ensuring this, yet it happens on a much deeper level. A personal level.

 

Like any relationship you learn by making mistakes and responding effectively to them. So what are some of the mistakes we could be making and how can we address them?

 

To create a fulfilling relationship requires time and effort, give and take. 

 

Making the first move or giving something away is always difficult. 

On an individual / business level you will ask, ”What’s in it for me?” yet, being the first person to offer something can enrich a relationship. In the case of a business it can be reviews or information that help people make an educated choice.  By concentrating on your relationships you gain trust and this will lead to the exchange of information and effort from both parties. It is from this investment that a brand can truly personalise a service or product. 

 

Users are reluctant to hand over their personal details when interrupted. If trust hasn’t been established they will run a mile, just think every high street and all the Chuggers! Similarly, they will be reluctant to invest time in a brand if they don’t feel valued by them.
Brands that build up trust in their customers can begin to request details from their users in return for a tailored solution. Aside from monetary gain, the brands can benefit from honest feedback, a loyal customer base and the ability to distinguish valued customers from the chancers. 


Be honest and trustworthy - Keep secrets

Firstly, reassure customers that their details will not be sold on. Explain how the users details will be used to improve their experience. If you are a brand that is harbouring customer data for a rainy day - stop it. There’s no need for such digital hoarding, data quickly becomes outdated, you have a responsibility to store it safely and users resent parting with information as it is time consuming and makes them suspicious of the brand's intentions. With so many people taking the option to tie up their social media accounts when signing up to new services they need to be sure you are going to look after them and do not ask for more privileges than you need.


Own up to your mistakes - Hell hath no fury than a consumer scorned

Mistakes happen. It’s drummed into us as children ‘everyone makes mistakes’. Hiding mistakes will only make you look twice as bad when people find out very publicly via social media. Instead, own up, fix it, learn from it and move on. Twitter and Trip Advisor are two platforms that are used to complain in explicit detail directly to companies. Consumers have wised up to telephone switchboards. To get your attention they’ll go after your reputation. The remedy, simply treat them well and continually question if you did everything possible and could it be better.

 

Know when to bend the rules - discretion, integrity and compassion

It is infuriating when companies read from a script and are given no authority to bend the rules or make exceptions. Many rules are put in place to protect the risk averse company from the minority who will try to abuse the system. 

 

It’s important to hire frontline staff that can think for themselves and then empower them to enrich the customer experience. This comes from knowledge and integrity. Rules are a framework and if you trust your people to make the right decision then customers can be considered on a case-by-case basis with discretion. Understanding, compassion, empathy and small tokens of value will go a long way to retaining customers, but more importantly it will build up the customers trust in the brand. 

 

Keep in touch, show you care

If you stop investing time and energy into the relationship eventually it will cease to exist. This is true for brands too. If a company continues to work on their offering at each point the customer engages with then their customers will be less open to the messages of enticement from competitors. 

 

The key is to keep working on the relationship from the first sign up to even after the customer has handed over their cash. It’s important to touch in with customers but not just with the intention of upselling and cross selling. This is short sighted. Little touch points after a user has had time to use the product / service could lead to really valuable insight about your product. For the user, the trust in the brand is strengthened as they haven’t just been sold to and dumped.  

 

Remain attractive - invest in yourself

Highlight what you’re doing well, there is no harm in reminding the user why they chose your brand in the first place. Don’t be afraid to point out what the competition offers, it’s not like your customers won’t be aware of it anyway, just ensure you’re one step ahead and highlight why you are doing it better.  

Customers will compare you to your competitors. Its inevitable. Don’t save all your good products for your new customers, make sure your champions are getting the best deals. Inform them of better products when they arise to increase customer retention. A long term customer is more valuable to a business as they trust you, and are more likely be an advocate.

 

Show you care and know when to give your customer space

With the rise in popularity of the smartphone, and the ability to converse with customers through a variety of platforms, it has never been more important to remember your manners. Just like in any relationship, if you become too intense and pushy you quickly become annoying and will eventually be ignored or worse discarded. Communications in the form of push notifications and daily emails will drive people to delete the app, they'll unsubscribe or move to a different service if you cease to add value.

 

Commitment

If your users feel they are being rewarded for using your products and service you can ask them to increase their commitment to your offering.

 

In turn, you gain more feedback about your product. The more time and effort users invest into a product or service, the more value they place on it. Known as the ‘Ikea effect’, users increase the valuation of self-made products as they have invested more time and effort building a wardrobe and will deem it more valuable than the same type pre-assembled.

 

Conclusion

You can only ensure your consumer experience is personalised if you know your users and they know, like and trust you. You can gain this trust by helping them when they are most vulnerable. Don’t be selfish, as companies are always taking more than they put in, it’s just called profit. It’s important companies utilise the information they have requested making it a priority to nurture a 1-to-1 relationship. 

 

Users should feel valued to the point that going elsewhere is incomprehensible not just less hassle and brands should value their committed users. Retention of customers is ultimately cheaper than acquisition. Companies that don’t invest in personalisation have no option but to segment their audiences and target them on mass. 

 

You’ll find it’s the little things that make the big difference and you can find these out by investing in the relationship to personalise your service.

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