Customer experience should be at the heart of your digital strategy. Even if you’re not selling products or services online, you should institute digital customer interactions to build and enhance relations with your customers so that they keep coming back. As a CEO, you want to listen to your customers’ feedback and ensure that your company is serving your customers in the best way possible.
Sales Numbers Are Not Enough
You should not solely rely on your sales numbers to gauge the customers’ experience. Customer satisfaction levels may be disguised. Problems with a newly released product, inferior customer support, a less than optimal quality service, or other issues may take time to affect sales. It could become too late or too costly to correct these issues.
Finger on Your Customers’ Pulse
Monitoring your company’s vital signs is the only way to stay on top and ahead of disastrous outcomes. In addition to internal metrics, CEOs need continuous real time data confirming the health of their companies from their customers. An effective way to do this is with client feedback. Here are three ways to do it.
A good instrument to achieve intimacy is to administer an online survey after every sale or service is completed, or when an invoice is sent. Ask your customer for input repeatedly to the point of annoying them. They can always ignore your request. Each time you request their input, you are telling them that you care about their opinion and their satisfaction.
Another instrument is to implement online reviews. You can do that with Google, Yelp and many other local search sites. Online reviews enable social proof and expose your customers’ opinions of your products and services.
Lastly, social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are an exceptional place to interact with customers and build intimacy. By design, they are casual two-way communication mediums for soliciting reviews, input, reactions, and interactions, all important to building intimacy.
Adopt Online Surveys
Online surveys should be an integral part of your digital strategy. With SurveyMonkey and SurveyGizmo, online surveys are so easy to design, dispatch, collect responses, analyze results and save for future reference or reuse. After designing the survey, you can forward the link in invoice emails, client emails, or post online for client response.
For your online survey to be meaningful, it has to go out to the majority of your customers, if not all of them. Therefore, you need to have your customers’ email addresses. Surveys posted on social media or your website do not limit feedback to customers-only.
If you have a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool in place with your clients’ email addresses, you are good to go. If not, institute a campaign or a process to entice your customers to provide you their email addresses and follow up by entering their information into a database. Emails will be the vehicle that you will use to solicit input directly and only from your customers. Without email addresses, the task will be much more difficult and costly.
Inexpensive or Even Free
With SurveyMonkey, you can have up to 10 questions and 100 replies with their freemium subscription. If you need to ask more than 10 questions or send to more than 100 people or require more advanced features, subscriptions fees are affordable.
It no longer takes weeks or months to execute a survey and collect results. With online surveys, you can design your survey in the morning and have ample replies delivered and compiled into a professional report on your desktop by early afternoon.
Easy to Complete
Your clients will find it easy to complete your survey online. Today’s solutions cater to all desktop computers and portable devices, including mobile phones. Once your client gets an email or finds your survey link on social media, one click and they are inside your survey. A few clicks later, the survey is completed. By making it easy, replies are a lot more likely to occur, significantly increasing your survey’s response rate and value.
Easy to Store & Compile
All the results are stored in the cloud on your account and will remain there as long as your account is active. You can generate reports or simply export the results for other use or further analysis. The survey can also be copied and reused in the future with minimal changes.
Figure 1 Example of Survey Question and Results
Visitors Leave a Forensic Trail
With online surveys, responders leave a digital forensic trail (IP address) enabling you (in many instances) to determine who they are. You can also draw strong conclusions from the timing of the survey response, input, or comments left behind. Contact all respondents that express less than a stellar experience so you may remedy any issues and turn them into your best fans.
Integrate with Invoices & CRM
Use your CRM to email survey requests on a regular basis. When you gain a new client, send a survey. If you lose a prospective client, send another survey. Engage most of your customers after each sale to solicit input from them. Integrate the survey into your fulfillment and invoicing process and automate their dispatch. Every order placed and invoice sent should include a survey.
Survey replies are often accompanied by positive testimonials. So publish the results in a press release and quote your clients’ feedback. Good survey results are also a great topic for a blog post, email newsletter, and for lead and client nurturing emails. Email the press release to your clients and news outlets. Provide it to your sales staff to send to prospective clients. It’s okay to blow your own horn loudly, annually. You will be surprised at the positive energy and goodwill that’s created with your employees and clients.
When you identify the clients that gave you fantastic feedback, contact them and request their permission to use their words and quote them on your website. Use their name and company name. In return, offer a backlink to their company’s website or LinkedIn profile.
Use in Your USP
Is delivering quality a unique selling proposition (USP) for you? Everyone talks great service and quality but very few can back it up with numbers! With your survey results, you can back up your claims with actual numbers enabling you to prove your uniqueness. This positioning will help you expand barriers to entry.
Embrace Online Reviews ★★★★★
In addition to online surveys, CEOs may choose to establish a more transparent feedback process that engages clients online. They can achieve that by embracing online reviews on Google, Yelp and other local and national directories.
Google My Business
Every company should claim its business on Google My Business. By doing so, you reap many benefits. The number one reason is allowing Google to give your website an additional search engine optimization boost when searches take place in the surrounding area where your business operates. Your content will show up on Google searches ahead of competition that may not have that local presence.
On top of the extra SEO boost, clients will find you on Google Maps and can seek directions or call your company’s office. Google keeps track and will report the number of views to you, direction requests, website visits and phone calls that occur monthly.
Additionally, clients can leave a review online indicating their level of satisfaction or dissatisfaction with your service. Take the time to review their feedback and reply to as many as you can, particularly the ones that are not flattering. You want to build a reputation of transparency and responsiveness.
Take ownership of your business listings on authoritative local and national online directories. Many of these sites offer your clients the ability to learn about your company, review products or services and offer feedback. There are online tools, like Moz Local that will enable you to do so and keep all directory listings consistently maintained for a small annual fee. Moz Local will facilitate updates when needed by dispatching them electronically to all listings from a central place. This maintains a consistent brand and message across all the legit directories.
Interact on Social Media
You’ve taken the time to build your digital content and publish it on your website. Why not share that content directly with your customers online via social media? Each blog post, press release, white paper, webinar, video, podcast, promotion and eBook should make it to your social media walls and groups.
Social media is the perfect place to casually interact with your customers including purchasers, influencers and end-users. Many tools are available to help you in that process, most prominently Hootsuite, Zoho Social and HubSpot. By using these tools, you can schedule and automate campaigns and postings, get notified when a review or a comment is posted, integrate with your CRM (customer relationship management) and CMS (content management system), and get reports and analytics.
The three top social media platforms to consider are Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
With over two billion users on Facebook, you have a gigantic audience at your disposal. In addition to interacting with your followers, you can boost your postings to a targeted persona precisely and efficiently. Facebook tends to be a more effective social media platforms for B2C companies.
Facebook offers the most sophisticated integrations with 3rd party tools. This facilitates automation, monitoring, interaction and analysis.
Primarily a B2B platform, LinkedIn offers access to more than half a billion professionals. Specific interest groups are established on the platform enabling professionals to virtually congregate and discuss most current and popular business topics. You can publish articles on the platform as well as share your thought leadership content on your wall or groups.
While advertising on its platform is more costly than Facebook, the return on investment may be justified given the higher average selling price of products and services typically promoted on LinkedIn.
Twitter is another giant social media platform with 67 million U.S. based active users and 336 million active users worldwide. Twitter limits the amount of text on each tweet, but has recently loosened up these restrictions. Concise and simple, tweets promote your content through images, a brief description and backlinks to your site. Tweets tend to be more spontaneous and time-sensitive than other social media postings.
We can’t talk about Twitter (or Instagram) without mentioning hashtags and their importance in social media. A word or a key phrase that is preceded by a hashtag like #digitaltransformation or #customerexperience can be used to connect a tweet or a post to a common or trending topic. By searching for these hashtags, you can monitor all interactions on a subject in real time.
Justifiably, CEOs express concern about the amount of transparency that social media and online reviews wield. Transparency is a double-edge sword. While it can air your dirty laundry in public, it can also help you quickly identify problems and address them. In a digital age, companies should embrace transparency and adopt processes that promote it and channel its discoveries into their value chain.
Enrich Your Customer Intimacy Digital Strategy with Online Surveys, Reviews & Social Media Interactions
A good customer experience and intimacy strategy should be at the core of your operations including an analytic process to measure your customers’ satisfaction level. Sales numbers alone are not a reliable indicator. By instituting and using an objective online survey to measure customer satisfaction and track its results annually, you can stay connected to your customers with minimal effort and costs. By keeping your survey consistent year after year, you can compare results and see how your service quality is evolving over time.
So take the time to design a solid online survey that you can use for a very long time. Claim your business on Google and other authoritative local and national directories. Setup professional social media pages for your company on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. The feedback you get from your social media interactions, along with your surveys and reviews can become part of your quality management system enriching its value and empowering a continuous improvement culture.
All these activities can be part of your digital strategy, costing you minimal overhead and expense. A genuine ration of human contact coupled with mature online technologies will produce astonishing experiences for you and your customers.
Need help with building a customer experience & intimacy strategy? Request a free SCORE Mentor Today!