With the emergence of the experience economy, we are now competing for consumer attention and preference based on the experience we create. Customer experience is the lynchpin to create real differentiation and sustained defensibility.
So when does customer experience happen? It’s not only when your customer receives your promotional emails, or visits your website, or makes their first purchase. Those are each individual experiences. But the total customer experience is each and every one of those touchpoints strung together over time. Every interaction. Every conversation. Beginning with the first interaction, and then every time after. It’s cumulative, and it’s constant.
Building that kind of relationship with your customers over time – meaning they keeping coming back – is likely very important to your business. By considering each conversation and interaction is a building block to the overall relationship, you strengthen your opportunity to create a positive experience for your customers.
Aspire to Build Personal Relationships
I think it’s important for us to be reminded of some of the fundamentals of a genuine relationship, in person and in the digital world.
First and foremost, healthy relationships require 2-way dialogue. They can’t be one-sided. We can’t only reach out when we need something or want something. We have to be available and reciprocate when the customer needs something from us.
Second, there has to be an exchange of value. We can’t always be taking from our customers, we also have to give to them. It’s an exchange. We do that by delivering meaningful value to customers through content and other interactions. It doesn’t require grand gestures – little things count, like a quick thank-you for visiting the blog or attending a webinar, or delivering a surprise discount code as thanks for sharing feedback.
Lastly, relationships are about knowing and recognizing your customers. The last thing you want is for any customer to feel like a stranger to your brand. By learning about them through your interactions, you build knowledge and context for your relationship. And when a customer comes back, wherever that interaction takes place, you’re able to engage and connect appropriately and thoughtfully.
Think about this for a minute. Imagine you meet someone, you have a great chat, maybe grab a coffee. Then you see that person a few more times, and every time you see them you have to re-introduce yourself. They don’t remember anything about your previous conversations – and this happens again and again. It makes for a very awkward experience. And after a while, you probably write that person off. You might even think to yourself how selfish and inconsiderate they are. It’s not much different when your brand is building relationships with your customers.
When companies fall short of creating this type of personalized experience, they too become selfish and inconsiderate; and risk becoming the annoying friend nobody takes seriously or wants to hang out with.
Want to hear more about how to build strong, personal relationships with your customers? Check out our recent webinar “Open Marketing: What Every Marketer Needs to Know.”