Originally written January 27th, 2020. Updated November 20th, 2023
Part 3: Embrace Me
In the third installment of our thought leadership series, Loyalty Iceberg: Creating Human-Centered Experiences, we discuss ways to Embrace your customers and make them feel appreciated. We will also touch on how this is more possible now than ever as AI allows us to individualize these experiences.
We’ve set the stage for this step by first recognizing each customer as an individual and starting to understand them on a personal level. Now it’s time to really make sure customers feel the love, because thoese who feel appreciated are the ones who make more purchases, spend more per purchase, refer new customers, and are less likely to seek out your competition.
Below we provide five tips to show your appreciation in ways that don’t involve a coupon or promotion, but an authentic and memorable experience. Sometimes these things have a much bigger impact on the minds and hearts of humans than anything else.
- Company-wide customer focus. In the quest to provide great products at low prices, the actual customer experience can be overlooked, which is a problem: for 82 percent of customers, the experience a company provides is as important as its products/services. To keep in line with consumer expectations, the single-minded focus of your company must be customer experience. As Shep Hyken, customer experience guru, explained, “Customer service is not a department.” In keeping with this notion, everyone on the payroll from the janitor to the CEO needs to embrace his or her role as a customer service employee.
- Create a community forum. Establishing an engaged online community has benefits far beyond simply giving your customers a platform to interact with your brand and other customers. These communities increase brand exposure, provide insights to you and your team through your an authentic dialogue. They have also been successful in reducing customer support costs for many companies – by as much as 10 to 25% per year!
- Engage on social media. Not only should your business have social media accounts to reach customers, actively interacting with those who mention your brand, respond to your posts and share your content, allows for a personal connection with your followers. When done right can foster feelings of loyalty and create a lasting emotional connection.
- Love your haters. While it’s unpleasant to hear bad things about your brand, the complainers are a blessing in disguise, as each problem is an opportunity to impress. A quick response, a heartfelt apology, a fix of the problem – or the promise to explore the need for change if there is a need to brand self-reevaluation – all show your customers that you care. Haters also have the potential of becoming your best customers, as those who have received responses to complaints will spend more on average with the offending company. Finally, you should keep in mind the words of Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel: “The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference.” The simple fact that someone took the time to complain indicates that she cares enough to engage, giving you the chance to make it right.
- Be transparent. In this era of “fake” news, data breaches and privacy abuses, consumer trust is at an all-time low. Building a reputation as a company that values truth, openness and integrity can serve as both a brand-builder and brand differentiator, with truly remarkable benefits in both customer loyalty and customer retention. When a brand with a reputation for transparency provides a bad experience, almost nine in ten customers will give it a second chance, while 85 percent will be more likely to remain loyal even after a true business crisis such as a data breach or scandal.
Automate your appreciation
As ironic as it may seem, this is where the magic of AI and machine learning comes into play. Large Language Models can automate personalized engagements with customers, making them feel seen and valued by your brand.
By harnessing the power of AI, businesses can take personalization to the next level. From suggesting tailored products and services to crafting personalized messages and offers, AI can enable brands to create authentic and memorable experiences for each customer. As we've explored the various facets of the “Embrace Me” portion of the iceberg, AI serves as the facilitator, ensuring that customers feel the love and appreciation that transcends the transactional aspect of their relationship with a brand. Through automated personalization, businesses can build lasting emotional connections with their customers, fostering loyalty, repeat purchases, and word-of-mouth referrals. With AI, every customer can receive the individual attention they deserve, ultimately solidifying their allegiance to your brand. Embracing the capabilities of AI is the path to not just meeting but exceeding customer expectations and creating enduring loyalty in today's competitive marketplace.
When the company culture is focused on the customer experience, it can transform all business operations for the better. It takes time and dedicated effort but will pay off in the end.
Next, we cover more ways to refine your operations as we seek to Remove the Friction, eliminating things that could be standing in the way of stronger relationships and better customer experiences.