Every business’s goal is to develop an unshakeable customer relationship that defines the best possible customer experience (CX) and represents a customer journey that’s second to none. Getting there requires great customer relationship management that must account for such things as:
- Understanding the essence of CX for developing a solid customer relationship
- Structuring customer service so that CX can be as good as it can be
- Consolidating customer loyalty (i.e., the epitome of customer retention)
- Minimizing customer churn to fortify a customer relationship strategy
- Obtaining customer feedback affordably
- Using customer segmentation effectively as a useful customer relationship tool
- Optimizing customer satisfaction
- Using customer journey mapping to compete in difficult markets
The customer experience consists of numerous touchpoints from end-to-end. The idea is that the touchpoints don’t divert the customer from eventually buying the product or service, using it, and keeping it. For that to happen, each touchpoint must energize the customer relationship forward, not stall them or cause them to abandon the journey.
When your company is into customer relationship management, there’s an implication that you know each touchpoint intimately. A touchpoint may be visiting your website, or it could be going into a store to try the product on for size before buying online. Perhaps it’s a phone-in to customer service for technical advice or information about warranties. In a B2B situation, it may be the buyer counseling engineers or the IT department. Indeed, it may be a zig-zag process over a considerable time. Whatever the case is, touchpoint insight is crucial to controlling a customer relationship.
A question that frequently arises when a customer is lost is, “Which touchpoint killed the sale?” All too often, managers shrug their shoulders in a “Who knows?” gesture. The rest of this article describes a strategic approach to customer relationship management and a way to stay in touch with your customers’ touchpoints.
Customer Journey Mapping
Imagine the customer journey as similar to a car trip where you are traveling from Florida to NYC. You plan on many stops that include gas stations, a motel, restaurants, and restroom stops to help make the journey as comfortable as possible. A customer journey may work the same way, with CX touchpoints all along the way.
Suppose there are one or more touchpoints that obstruct the trip in any journey toward a brand purchase. In that case, there’s a troubled customer relationship ahead. It’s management’s role to anticipate customer moves in the CX journey and focus on making the path forward as smooth as possible.
Customer churn is a devastating blow to any company. According to a Forbes study, USA organizations pay a massive price for inadequate customer service — a mind-boggling $62 billion annually. They might as well say that it’s the result of mismanaged customer touchpoints in a defined customer relationship journey. The stark reality is that it only takes one flawed interaction with a customer to implode the whole relationship. We suggest that in this arena, management adhere to the following guidelines:
- Track customer journey maps as far as possible and note the relevant touchpoints.
- Look into each one for all the pluses and minuses.
- If not obvious, collect customer feedback.
- Compare your touchpoint proficiency to your competitors.
- Begin customer relationship staff training to fill in the touchpoint gaps.
- Appreciate that different market segments take unique customer journeys.
- Create a focused customer journey map for each segment.
- Stay alert for volatility in the market place that can splatter CX directions quickly.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a standout example of this last bullet point. It put remote working front and center, whereas before it took a backseat. It caused B2B business to shift to team decisions, with less emphasis on designated buyers. Online eCommerce kicked brick-and-mortar retailing to the curb, and technology streamed in, giving the digital era in business a rocket-boost.
The lesson here? Don’t rest on your laurels, assuming that a customer relationship once fixed via touchpoints, stays fixed. Customer journeys change, even if the end destination is the same. Customers will stay with brands that adapt their touchpoints to these changes and leave those that don’t.
The takeaway is that there’s hardly any tolerance for mistakes. For example, nearly 60% of customers said that they would wait just a minute or less on a customer service call before they hang up. It makes you think. How many customers are you losing because of long delays? Timing is only the beginning. Other crucial issues include the agent’s politeness, technical knowhow, efficiency in answering the question, and ability to damp down complaints.
Customer Segmentation & Customer Feedback
In the mapping section above, I noted that most businesses have more than one mainstream customer segment they’re chasing. Each one demands a focused customer journey map with its unique touchpoints showing the way to a conclusion. Customer relationship management draws on this kind of power to stay ahead of the curb.
There are no two ways about it; the more you know about your customer, the better. Customer segmentation — especially at the behavioral and psychographic levels — will help you get into the hearts and souls of your customers. When you have insightful data into your customers, then potential touchpoints can really be discerned. The two mentioned segmentation categories explain why customers behave the way they do, thus considerably enriching touchpoint management.
This brings us to another critical aspect — customer feedback. Feedback can be collected through various methods including surveys, interviews, focus groups, and probes like the Likert scale. One way to gather extremely penetrative feedback is through testing customer loyalty with an NPS one question survey. In such a survey, you’d ask, “How likely are you to recommend our brand to a friend or family? Rate it on a scale from 1 to 10 with ten being the most likely.” Of course, you can build on this with follow-up questions to delve into deeper motivations and define if you are on the right side of customer satisfactions.
Making Customer Relationship Management Affordable
Many facets of customer relationship management must come together for success. The most challenging aspects are:
- Obtaining feedback along the lines of industry-best practices.
- Developing a customer segmentation strategy.
- Defining touchpoints and plotting out a customer journey map.
- Preparing counteractive plans for negative touchpoints as they occur.
- Team training in customer relationship nurturing.
The summary of customer relationship management actions intimates that an expert partnership with specialist advisors is necessary to get a one-stop solution working for your company. I recommend SoGoSurvey because its resources are broad and in-depth. As a result, they have the right feedback templates, segmentation models, and personal advice to take you through the process affordably every time.
If you are a company experiencing unusual customer churn, stagnant customer retention, or questionable customer loyalty in any of your targeted markets, connect with SoGoSurvey today.