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Marketing today can only deliver real results when business organizations are willing to take a multi-pronged approach that touches on every aspect of the customer experience.

As customer sophistication increases and more people have access to Web-based, peer-generated online reviews and opinions, businesses are feeling the pressure and adapting accordingly. One of the most important and effective ways to build brand reputation and market more effectively involves enhancing one’s efforts to drive increased customer loyalty.

Turning customer feedback into customer loyalty

Loyalty-based marketing is taking center stage. As a result, businesses are able to strengthen their online presence, becoming more equipped to serve customers whose modus operandi is information-driven and highly specific.

These same customers, whose demands appear to raise the bar for all businesses, are not just more work and bad news. Their very proclivity toward research-based consumption makes them far more active in voicing their opinions and customer feedback online and offline.

While their requirements are more defined, and they spend more time researching and selecting products and services online, they are also more likely to develop personal relationships with a brand, and are far more outspoken when it comes to brand advocacy.

The good news for businesses is that the same people that are using reviews heavily are also the ones that will leave reviews liberally.

As interactions with this growing segment increase, businesses need to shift their focus and establish policies, programs, and promotions as part of their customer experience strategy: things that foster increased loyalty, starting with sophisticated customers and hopefully trickling down across all segments.

Here are a number of business practices used by highly effective business organizations today:

Building loyalty through early intervention

What happens after a customer completes a transaction is more important than ever. For this reason, organizations that aspire to connect with their most valuable customers at a personal level have processes in place designed to reach out to their customers and capture their sentiment and customer feedback immediately after an engagement. (Read the case study: Hyundai Dealer Wants Customers to Talk Online, Even Embraces Negative Reviews)

By reaching out to a customer within a very short period of time after his or her purchase, businesses gain a variety of benefits, among them the ability to capture accurate feedback while the customer’s recollection is still fresh, as well as the potential of identifying a customer issue before the customer is inclined to submit reviews on sites like Yelp or TripAdvisor.

Finally, an early request for customer feedback allows businesses to request a review, when applicable, that will be relevant and approved by the host website. Take a look at how TripAdvisor-listed businesses use Review Express to capture high-quality customer reviews. (Check out other terrific TripAdvisor tips for businesses.)

Having tiered services

The richness of customer feedback and data available to the majority of businesses provide significant opportunities when it comes to pushing programs that optimize spend and ensure that the most valuable customers feel appreciated.

Almost any business can have some type of tiered services designed to give priority to the customers whose lifetime value is likely to be the highest. Tiered services reduce friction on subsequent experiences, and give repeat customers that little extra that may just trigger additional reviews above and beyond their first product or service review.

Ensuring consistent online engagement 

There is no worse enemy to a brand’s engagement levels than indifference to customer feedback: the voice of the customer both online and offline.

Industry leaders with thriving brand reputation are characterized by a great deal of consistency and quality in their online engagements with customers. These organizations regularly monitor their reviews and maintain a strong social presence, with two-way interactions that acknowledge the customer’s voice.

These businesses take the time to craft highly personalized responses that take into account the needs of the customer, but also maximize the opportunity by incorporating information conducive to repeat engagements and likely to persuade shoppers using review sites to give their business a try.

(Check out: 5 Awesome Tips for Improving Customer Engagement)

Shape your offering against product feedback

Strong businesses with superior reputation and consistent growth know that they can only succeed when what they offer is aligned with the customer’s needs and wants.

Taking the time to shape offerings against online reviews and other forms of customer feedback, like surveys and comments on NPS surveys, enable businesses to optimize products and services and keep customers coming back again and again.

Making a commitment to innovation

Work on giving loyal customers something to talk about beyond their first reviews. Savvy customer experience strategists have found that, in addition to having a strong and consistent product and service offering, businesses need to consistently add new features or additional products to their lineup. New experiences carefully crafted around the preferences of your most loyal customers trigger conversations and often result in positive customer feedback and additional online reviews.

Providing aspirational rewards and incentives

In addition to tiered services and customer-centric product development, brands wishing to build a strong online reputation and durable customer relationships can greatly benefit from carefully designed rewards and incentives that trigger repeat visits and facilitate added spend.

Furthermore, a well-crafted reward program that appeals to the aspirational wish list of their most loyal customers will frequently result in narrative reviews highlighting the value-add experience, thus motivating others to engage with the brand who are also hoping to earn similar opportunities.

Crystal Shuller

Crystal is the Director of Customer Happiness for ReviewTrackers. She's known around the office for E-mails that make everyone smile, and she has a bag of tricks and tips to help businesses solve their problems and delight their customers.

Discussion

  1. LucyW

    As a small business owner, I track my customers’ preferences through the computer as thy make purchases and whatnot. I’m able to send out “exclusive, limited-time” offers/sales based on their history. They love it. And it helps if you can afford to go to any lengths to get them what they want, so they won’t go elsewhere. And I find that if your pride shows in your business, your customers will also show their appreciation, be it via word of month or online reviews.

    http://www.smallbusinesscomputing.com/News/Marketing/does-your-small-business-have-a-customer-loyalty-program.html

    Reply
  2. Lisa Burner

    I work as a freelance graphic designer and I have this habit, to congratulate my clients some significant holidays with a card that I designed. They love it and keep coming back every time 🙂
    I also have to agree with Lucy – showing that you are proud of what you do IS massively important and gets recognized by clients.

    Reply
  3. Mary Rose

    Being customer’s friendly is essential to success. You can learn a lot from reviews, even from the bad ones. But, nowadays, perhaps the most important thing is to be innovative and follow trends. Trends could easily be followed simply by using google trends.

    Reply

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