When the traditional, paper-based annuity application forms didn’t arrive at the time promised, the client called to find out when to expect to see the forms. “Sorry about that,” was the reply. “You’ll have the forms later today or tomorrow.” When application packet arrived, the client’s name was spelled wrong and part of the street address was missing.
The advisor came recommended from a friend, but the client ended up choosing another advisor, due to a lack of trust.
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That, of course, is a fictional example, but similar situations are all too common.
Hands down, customer experience is today’s Number 1 marketing hot issue — and for good reason. Up to 82% of customers who leave do so because of a bad experience. While businesses keep trying to plug up the customer experience holes, it’s never enough.
There’s a lesson here: it’s over and done if trust isn’t established as early as possible. Without a reservoir of goodwill available to recover from a bad customer experience, customers bail.
Even though winning sales is the goal, the first objective is winning customer trust. Credibility matters since the doubt meter is always running with prospects and customers. This is why bulletproofing customer relationships is the number one task. Today’s customers don’t automatically trust brands, businesses, or salespeople. It’s earned by actions, experience, and attitudes that develop over time. And here are 13 ways to establish it:
1. Follow through.
When contacting a business, a lack of follow through may be customers’ greatest fear. Allay their worries by acknowledging how they feel: “I know how important this is to you… I’ll be back to you about 3:00 pm today.” or “You have my word… but should you want to contact me here’s my email address and cell number.”
2. Solve problems fast.
“Will-they-or-won’t-they take care of it?” is what every customer is thinking when they have a problem. What they’re looking for is a clue as how a business will respond. Surprise them by letting them know you understand and will take care of it now. If you can’t do it, change the policy!
3. Be candid.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” are words no salesperson wants to hear from a customer. It happens because there’s often a wide gulf between what customers think they want to buy and what’s going to best serve their needs. To assure satisfaction be candid with them to make sure they will be satisfied.
4. Encourage feedback.
Companies may say they want to hear from their customers, but make it difficult, at times nearly impossible, to do so. If you’re serious about getting feedback, make it easy for customers to contact you and then respond promptly.
5. Personalize content.
And not by dropping in the customer’s name a couple of times. Imagine having a cup of coffee with someone and keep that picture in your mind as you write. It’s how you say it — with empathy, openness and understanding that makes it personal.