The formula to business success starts with the customer. Without them, no matter how good the product or service, the business will never continue to grow. With increasing competition that’s oversaturating the market, how can your business stay ahead? Always remember to put the customer first.
Companies that focus on customers as being the top priority usually always have a dedicated following. Take Zappos, for example. The online retailer isn’t recognized as being the cheapest marketplace for brand-name shoes and clothing, nor is it recognized for having the fastest shipping or best packaging. Zappos remains extremely competitive because they’ve mastered their company philosophy: knowing that customers are the priority. If customers need service, they can call in, email and live chat at any time.
Zappos’ customer-centric mentality goes round-the-clock, delivering stellar customer service without any hassles. Wrong size, wrong color or “I just don’t like it” are all welcome and valid for the 365-day, hassle-free return policy. So although the company chooses never to compete in a price war with other competitors, Zappos will always win with customers.
Companies are exploring new and relevant ways to stay in touch with customers. After all, every day is a new opportunity to gain sales. Staying in touch could mean selling through email newsletters, social media posts and now, directly chatting through Facebook’s Pages Messaging.
Customers love the convenience of being able to connect with a company on-demand — getting information such as business hours, directions, what’s in stock or even return policies, simply by chatting with the business in real time.
Ultra convenient for the customer, having friendly and knowledgable staff to answer questions in real time sets the tone for how valuable the company is. Secure a competitive advantage by offering real-time support, connecting with customers who are actively looking for your business right now.
It’s inevitable that growing businesses will suffer from growing pains. With required improvements in infrastructure, companies need to take control of their costs. Companies that started with the home-grown approach — being flexible to attend to customers at any time — will find it increasingly harder to do so as the business grows.
One way companies can continue to affordably offer round-the-clock support for both email and real-time chat is to utilize cloud call centers. In addition to providing support throughout the day, cloud call centers offer benefits in streamlining customer support.
Call centers can completely take over the company’s customer service line or can be added as secondary line of support, for when in-house agents are off the clock. Call center agents are professionally trained and often times staffed with customer service veterans. And most importantly, call centers are invaluable for scaling business, offering flexibility in adding (or removing) agents to meet customer demand.
It’s evident that companies who focus on customer service and satisfaction will always be right with the customers they serve. Regardless of industry, focusing company core values around the customer is a smart investment that pays off as a competitive advantage. Smart businesses will find new ways to connect with customers while maintaining costs.
Apple won Interbrand’s Best Global Brand ranking for the third year in a row this month. The ranking factors in financial performance, impact on customer choice and ability to command a premium price. Not coincidentally, Apple also leads this year in the laptop, smartphone and tablet categories of Brand Keys’ Consumer Loyalty Engagement Index.
What makes customers like some brands more than others? A closer look at leading brands reveals some qualities that smaller companies can emulate.
Apple maintains a 90 percent brand retention rate, research shows. How do they do it? One is Apple’s history of successful firsts. While Apple did not invent the first MP3 player, smartphone, or tablet, it pioneered the release of successful products in each of these markets. Apple also sets out to design and make better products, and won’t enter a market unless it feels it can outdo the competition. Taken together, these qualities have established Apple’s reputation as a leader, and people follow leaders. One lesson for smaller companies is to do what you do best in order to outpace the competition in your customers’ eyes.
Virgin Group founder Richard Branson says the key to delivering superior customer service is setting realistic customer expectations and then exceeding them. One company that has excelled at this is Amazon, which won Brand Keys’ Customer Loyalty Engagement Index ranking in the online retailer category. Amazon’s customer service has not only set customer expectations, but now sets the rules for what customers expect.
Amazon has achieved this firstly by paying close attention to customer data and what customers want. This customer awareness starts from the top down, with CEO Jeff Bezos regularly reading customer emails. On a company-wide scale, Amazon gathers large volumes of customer data from transactions and uses analytics tools to process this information.
Amazon then leverages this data by delivering what customers want in such key areas as speed, selection, service and competitive pricing. Companies can emulate Amazon in these areas by paying attention to their performance in these areas. For instance, can your customers order with one click or phone call?
Customer expectations center around emotional engagement, another key to getting customers to like you. The NFL is a brand that has mastered the art of creating emotional excitement, walking away with a victory in Brand Key’s major league sports category.
Brand Keys’ analysis of individual NFL team loyalty rankings, led by the Patriots, Packers and Seahawks, identifies the qualities that go into the NFL’s success recipe. These include history and tradition, fan bonding, entertainment and authentic team performance. The NFL reinforces these qualities and engages fans emotionally by promoting events such as its annual Thanksgiving Day games, which bring tradition, family bonding and entertainment together in an emotionally charged, competitive environment. The NFL sums up these elements in its current ad campaign with the slogan, “Football Is Family.”
Game-day excitement spills over onto fan discussions on sites such as Dish’s The Dig, which in turn fuels fan emotional engagement. Smaller businesses may not be able to whip up the level of excitement generated by a game-winning turnover, but you can still tap into your customers’ feelings by treating them as family in the service you deliver.
A quality that ties all the above customer loyalty elements together is how well a brand delivers customer experience. The success of Starbucks, which tied Dunkin’ Donuts in Brand Keys’ out-of-home coffee category this year, illustrates the centrality of customer experience. Sure, Starbucks has a ubiquitous presence and high-quality coffee, but what really sets Starbucks apart is the experience of going to Starbucks. Smaller companies should focus on improving the experience they deliver to boost the likability of your brand.
Branding is critical when you do business online. To promote your business and build a reputation, you need to be able to create your own online identity and separate your brand from the sea of other competitors trying to stake their claim on the same customers. A distinctive logo, a powerful message, innovative marketing campaigns and even product packaging can all help you create a presence in an industry that might already seem like it is flooded with too many players, but sometimes it is the mistakes that matter most. Even one small mistake can make a huge difference in terms of customer acquisition and retention.
Here are 5 simple brand-busting mistakes you need to try and avoid so that all of the efforts you are putting into the process will pay off.
You have to know the power of your brand before you can actually define it. The problem is that many small business owners do not fully understand what constitutes a brand, and this makes online brand building exponentially more difficult. You should never just invest your attention to one individual piece of the brand. The logo is what the public will recognize and associate your company with, but so many other items will work in tandem with this. Your website design, the design or layout of your marketing materials and the tone of your message in YouTube videos all count. Do not have a one-track mind.
A tagline is meant to be a recognizable phrase that presents value and benefits your brand. It can be humorous, but it needs to develop the brand and emphasize the image you are trying to create. Some of the larger retailers in the world have memorable taglines that are used are powerful examples of the difference that a tagline can make, but remember where you are starting. Do not feel like a tagline is a must. If you put pressure on the tagline, it may not feel organic. Wait until you come up with a compelling one.
Professional digital marketers can cost a fortune to hire, but there may come a time where hiring the pros to do small tasks is the best choice. You can plan, develop, and design your entire marketing campaign, but if you take on every single task you will not be able to service the new clients that you are generating. If your goal is to reach an international audience with your online marketing, you need to appreciate the advantages of having professionals subtitle the videos you publish online.
Quality subtitling services ensure that translated information is free of errors and relays the right message. By hiring pros and not just trusting that YouTube’s automated service will translate without error, you can easily optimize your website with headers that have the right keywords and a message that is not being left up to interpretation.
It might be tempting to use special effects when you are working on a logo or to use that graphic you have been trying to incorporate somewhere for years. Unfortunately, many business owners over-complicate logos or web design variables with different characteristics that become very hard to decipher or to blend together as one. If you want a lasting brand, you should always aim towards clean elements that will be remembered.
There are thousands of companies that consumers can choose to do business with, but not each company can create a unique customer experience online. Since all companies can find a way to beat your pricing, you need to give your customers a reason to do business with you. The reason should be part of your promise to the customer. By focusing on customer experience during your planning process, you can develop a brand promise that you can stick by.
When you are branding your company, you must be flexible. If something is not working, you need to be able to fix mistakes or revamp. Make sure that you are aware of the brand-busting pitfalls that can have grave consequences, and avoid them at all costs as you build your reputation.