Customer loyalty is an increasingly important consideration for businesses, as the cost of customer acquisition rises. Customer loyalty comes from many things, but loyalty primarily develops from customers interacting with a company that always has their best interests at heart. Many companies wonder how they can develop loyalty in this way, through becoming more customer-centric.
What most people fail to acknowledge is that customer centricity is not simply the result of one action. Rather, it is an engrained value in the organization’s culture, mission, and values. Providing a strong customer experience at all touch points is a great way to start building towards a customer focus, but the emerging field of micro customer experiences should also be given some consideration.
Micro customer experiences are small-scale interactions between a customer and a brand that serve to resonate with your customers on a deeper level. Our Experience Academy founder, Michel Falcon, believes that micro customer experiences must be small, subtle, affordable, and memorable touches that will stick with your customers for years. It’s all about building trust, confidence, goodwill, and, ultimately, loyalty.
Micro customer experiences, to be effective, must be genuine. Take Warby Parker for example. A Warby Parker retail location in Atlanta got a lot of media coverage recently for effectively carrying out a micro customer experience for a loyal customer. When one of their customers, who was in the store picking up a pair of glasses, told the employees that her car was stolen earlier in the day, the manager asked for her address. A week later, she received a personalized card from the store in the mail, along with a $20 gift card to the customer’s favourite local craft beer bar.
Stories like this go viral, so often, because companies rarely treat their customers like their closest friends. Micro customer experiences are a fairly low cost, but extremely effective, way of building a strong bond and increasing loyalty with customers. Despite this, very few companies bother to create a customer experience strategy that adequately considers these micro interactions as a core part of the overall strategy.
Why do companies not value customer relationships on a deep enough level to invest more in their customer experience? It’s because, on the surface, customer experience is not always tangible. Investing in marketing can yield radio ads, newspaper spreads, or television commercials. Customer experience? It’s a lot more subtle, and not always noticeable on the surface, but much more effective than traditional marketing activities in increasing customer loyalty and retention. There are three things a company can do to start producing micro customer experiences.
Add it to the budget
Most companies do not allocate part of their budget to improving their customer experience. One of the best things you can do, to help micro customer experiences take off, is to create a distinct budget for such actions. Ensure that your frontline employees are aware that such a budget exists to help fund these micro customer experiences, and empower them to use it at their own discretion. Not only will this allow each employee to focus on providing the best service possible, but it will help create stronger bonds with the customers you serve.
Don’t force it
Micro customer experiences should not be forced. To effectively convey that you care about your customers, you must be genuine about how you interact with them. A monthly gift card giveaway, or only having one micro action that is repeated for every customer, is more calculated than genuine. Your frontline employees should be able to make their own decisions in determining how to provide a micro customer experience that the customer will love. These micro customer experiences don’t have to happen on a consistent schedule; the important thing is that you show a genuine appreciation for your customers.
Track customer information
All companies should have some way to track information about their customers, either through using a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution or some other tracking platform. Customers often have very personal conversations with your employees, and a lot of that intelligence is lost because it is not tracked. So why don’t more companies track this personal information to create a longer-term connection, and build a stronger rapport, with repeat customers?
An example of a simple micro customer experience, that would not cost your company anything, is to make note if a customer mentions that their dog is sick, and then ask them how their dog is feeling the next time they visit. Or if you run a travel company, and a customer mentions that they are recently engaged, you can send them a special offer by email or mail to congratulate them on the upcoming ceremony and offer them a discount on booking the honeymoon of their dreams. It’s all about taking small actions that are memorable and personalized to the customer.
At the end of the day, you will only get out of micro customer experiences what you put into them. You have to make your customers your top priority and integrate customer-centricity into your company’s DNA. Not only will this build loyalty, but it could even help with organic growth when these satisfied customers spread positive word of mouth about your business and refer their friends. Companies that are dedicated to building a strong customer experience, such as Warby Parker and Apple, are continuously being recognized as some of the most innovative companies in the world. Customer experience isn’t the next battlefield; the battle has already begun.
Are you providing your customers with powerful and genuine micro customer experiences?