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When you think of “winning brands,” which companies come to your mind?
Chick-fil-A? Ritz-Carlton hotels? Zappos?
Each of these brands is a successful household name with a sought-after reputation and millions of devoted customers. But what does a shoe retailer, an upscale hotel chain, and a fast-food restaurant have in common? All of these companies maintain a dedicated focus on improving the customer experience.
You might ask, “But shouldn’t my primary focus be on the product or service I provide to my customers?”
Yes, of course. But as Horst Schulze, former President and COO of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, reminds us, “Service is your product.”
In today’s economy, customers expect more from companies- in all industries, on all levels. Innovative products aren’t always enough to keep a business thriving. Experiences keep your customers coming back, and that experience will occur at every touchpoint.
How many other companies offer a product or service like yours? Both Chick-fil-A and McDonald’s offer fast-food chicken, but ask a devoted customer of Chick-fil-A if they’d be willing to get their lunch at McDonald’s if you gave them a 50% coupon and the answer would be a resounding no. Why do so many people shop at Target when they can get many of the same products at Walmart for a cheaper price? Why do they stay at the Ritz-Carlton when they could find a cheaper hotel room on Expedia?
The answer, of course, is that these brands offer a superior customer experience.
Chick-fil-A, who was recently voted as having the best customer service in America for any fast-food chain, makes more profit per restaurant than McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Subway combined…and it’s closed on Sundays.
“The word ‘restaurant’ means place of restoration”, Chick-fil-A’s founder Cathy S. Truett says, “And we think of Chick-fil-A as an oasis where people can be restored. We strive to treat people better than the place down the street. One way we do that is by remembering that we’re all people with a lot of emotional things going on that don’t necessarily show on the surface, so we try to offer amenities and kindness that minister to the heart.”
According to Forbes, it costs 5x as much to attract a new customer than to nurture an existing customer. If a company can increase its customer retention rates by just 5%, it can increase profits by 25% to 95%!
Just because someone hasn’t had a negative experience with you doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve made a memorable positive impact. They may feel neutral toward you or even like you — but to enjoy the kind of obsessive fan loyalty Chick-fil-A has, you have to make your customers love you.
Marketing author Seth Godin reminds us, “People do not buy goods and services. They buy relations, stories and magic.” When you show love to your customers by nurturing a relationship and creating unexpected moments of magic as they travel along the customer journey, you’ll make it easier for them to love you back.
Every company has a target audience. Within that target audience, your company may have multiple buyer personas. Each of those buyer personas cares about something different. So how can we figure out what they care about?
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is more critical than ever before. An increasing amount of companies are investing in using CRM to understand behaviors online. If you are not taking advantage of available technologies and resources to learn more about your customers, you are already falling behind.
Another way to get information about your customer is to listen to your salespeople. They speak to customers every day, and they hear their concerns. Take advantage of those relationships and find out when their experiences are memorable and when they may be missing the mark.
Everything that your customer experiences through your brand is considered a touchpoint. That can happen through customer service, your website, social media, customer events, giveaways, packaging, office space, storefront, and employee attitudes.
A common mistake companies make is focusing heavily on one touchpoint, like customer service or packaging, and dismissing some of the other crucial touchpoints like how the website structures content or getting the most out of the right online promotional tools.
Think about the last time you were on a website with slow loading speed. Or a time that you tagged a company in a tweet and didn’t get a response?
Both of those times, you experienced a brand touchpoint.
Take time to lay out the land. Outline the various channels that you are using to interact with your clients. If your website isn’t serving them as it could, it’s probably time for a refresh. If you aren’t using social media to interact with your clients, you’re missing an opportunity to create an experience.
Once you know where your company is touching your clients, you can start personalizing those experiences.
Random acts of kindness for your customers can go a long way by providing a unique and memorable experience. The smallest of acts that surprise and delight your customers will not only have them talking about your company but will also keep them coming back.
There are endless creative ideas to surprise and delight your customers. Something as little as including gifts in your packaging or getting lunch for your clients when they come in for a meeting can speak volumes to the customer experience. Actions that create a memorable impression of your brand will enhance their experience and develop a reputation for your company that your customers will love.
Here’s a list of simple acts of kindness you can incorporate into your business:
Communicating with your customers on social media is no longer considered “going above and beyond” as customer service. It is an expectation the same way customers call a support phone number and expect that someone will answer the phone and help them.
Every company should be using social media as a tool to communicate and engage with your customers. This is a touchpoint with a lot of opportunities to show off your brand, help your customers fall in love with who your company is, and tell them what you are all about.
Engaging posts using your company’s tone help people understand and fall in love with your brand. Responses to comments and messages encourage trust and support in your brand. Real people in your photos and videos humanize your brand.
That’s what customers want. They want to see real people behind all the logos, advertisements, and coupons. People love people.
Each time you share a positive review on your website or social media platforms, you’re showing your customers that you appreciate them. Your recognition of a review encourages others to write one and promotes your brand.
Each time you finish a transaction with a customer, ask them to leave a review online about their experience. Make sure you’re responding to reviews promptly and not just thanking them but encouraging customers visit your business again.
If a potential customer visits your website but it’s outdated, loads slowly, and isn’t engaging, why would they want to give your company their business? Imagine if they see incorrect hours online and show up at your business when it’s closed. Providing customers with a stellar online experience is crucial to not only building rapport but providing them with vital information.
By definition, a remarkable experience is one that customers and clients remark upon. What can you do to elevate touchpoints to a level that engages their heads, hearts, and hopes?
The first step is always getting to know your customer, then looking at how you can create a remarkable experience that speaks to them at every touchpoint. At PHOS Creative, we specialize in building brand awareness and helping you show customers the heart of your business.