We never thought we’d say this, but customers don’t want to be left alone. Which is a huge jump from the times of door to door salesmen and annoying calls that you would invariably hang up on the minute they launched into their scripted sales offering. That’s not to say they want adverts thrown at them every second of every day, they definitely don’t want that. Who does! But rather, they want contact. They want to be able to reach brands. To have conversations and be heard. Consumers buying into brands often take ownership of those brands and feel there is an inherent right, as a loyal customer, to have an opinion. You used to have to go to the AGM for that on that one day in the year, but now social media has essentially brought the AGM online, every single day.
We could sit here then and talk about Omni-channel or multi-channel all day long, but you already know that. This isn’t about what channels a brand will exist on, but rather how will they connect with their people. After all, customers are just people who are craving connection and interaction in an oversaturated digital world, and today, we want those connections from brands in ways we haven’t previously. Essentially, how do you reduce the gap between online and offline to notice your consumers?
And the gap does need to be reduced. A brand’s aim is to get everyone they want to have conversation with in the same room. That may be a hypothetical online room, but in doing so it builds loyalty and establishes relationships. A brand is no longer an inanimate object, but a beating heart with its own voice, personality and quirks. Inanimate objects don’t sell.
Naturally, creating that room will involve online channels, content, physical interactions, retail spaces and even artificial intelligence. We need to stop narrowing ourselves down to specific channels, but rather, use every single thing in the armory to create an experience for customers that brings them into the brand and provides beautiful customer experience. That could start with AI driven customer engagement tools to identify problems, to easy access online, to 24hour chat bots, to human manned social accounts, then a conversation with a sales person in store and a follow up thank you via a tweet. The possibilities are endless for brands and with so much at our disposal, the question is why aren’t more brands doing this better? We’ve got the tools to make our consumers feel more loved and cared for than our current partners are, and yet there are still so many instances of brands falling short, delivering halfhearted customer experiences when the opportunity for greatness is within their grasp.
Brands need to align their internal process to support an all-encompassing customer experience. That requires buy-in from management and ensuring you have the infrastructure in place to support what you’re trying to do. Customer service is more than a wish and a prayer, but a strategy and process that needs to be woven into the entire organisation. It does not happen by accident and maintaining a consistent experience saves lives. Okay, that may be a little dramatic, but it does save your customers and your customers save your brand. So one way or another, they’re saving your life. Because when a customer has a bad experience, as they inevitably will because we’re all humans and even the best brands make human mistakes and you can’t control every little thing. Maybe the barista in Pret is having a terrible day and they did deliver bad service, it happens, we all know this.
So, when those bad experience do happen, your ‘everything strategy’ will be the thing that retains that customer for life, as opposed to letting them go and tell all their friends what a terrible time they had in your shop. Those things eventually spread and not even the best brands can afford that kind of press. It’s time to be there for our customers, in every little way we can.