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4 New Year’s resolutions to make for better customer relations

4 New Year’s resolutions to make for better customer relations

Every year, we make New Year’s resolutions, committing to them (to varying degrees) with our friends and family as witnesses. But how often do we take the opportunity to make commitments to improving customer relations?

These commitments have more in common than you’d think. To prove it, we’ve summed up the most popular personal resolutions people make year after year and show you how to apply them to your #workgoals, too.

Companies know that happy customers yield positive business results. But it’s not always easy to stay on top of customer needs in your day-to-day, especially if you don’t have the right data or tools to help you assess customer satisfaction. And not knowing what customers really think can hurt your business, its reputation and its bottom line. Sometimes, the best business outcomes boil down to the questions you’re asking of your customers.

Here are 4 resolutions you can practice every day to successfully prioritize customer experience in 2018:

While many of us personally resolve to lose a few pounds, we know that weight alone is not a reliable indicator of overall health. Similarly, customer acquisition and conversion don’t necessarily paint the full picture of customer health. You may be acquiring new customers every day, but are those same customers sticking with you instead of the competition?

Savvy customer relations departments understand that retention is a key predictor of customer health and longevity. In order to grow your base—and sustain that growth—you’re going to have to deliver lasting value so customers keep coming back and wanting more.

Make sure you’re looking beyond the surface when you assess customer health. Ask your customers questions that might not seem obvious at first, but can predict desired behaviors like repeat purchases or upgrades. For example, assess a customer’s engagement level with questions focused on their usage of specific product features or their likeliness to post reviews and feedback in social channels.

If you have a customer satisfaction survey already running, you can attach a customer health scoring model to it and determine which customers require your immediate attention. Even better, automate the process with a customer experience solution like SurveyMonkey CX, which uses the Net Promoter Score to help you identify true customer advocates from detractors.

Time is money. Whether budgeting your own personal expenses or your department’s spending, how much you save depends on which line items you prioritize. First-class customer relations isn’t cheap. You’ll never have enough time or money to invest in every customer touchpoint all the time, so spend wisely by prioritizing the experiences that matter most to your customers.

  • If your customers tend to contact support about minor issues, consider improving existing self-service content to drive down calls and support costs.
  • When prospective customers open your emails but don’t register for that webinar, solicit their feedback in your next newsletter about subjects or formats they’d most prefer.
  • Before implementing a new and unproven paid advertising program, quickly test your ad concepts with audiences in your target market to see if the messaging resonates.

You don’t have to overextend yourself or your company’s dime to access rich customer insights. Leverage existing touchpoints in your customer relations program to uncover new information. For example, occasionally rotate in a different question to a recurring customer feedback survey to pinpoint specific areas of concern.

The New York Times Bestseller list may have you itching to pick up Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”—but you could just watch it on Hulu instead. If getting your nose stuck in a good book seems like a big commitment, you’re in luck. Did you know there’s a ton of enlightening reading to be had right from your desk or inbox at work?

Customer relations experts make it a habit to consume as much customer feedback as they can, whenever possible, and from all different channels. Double check that every feedback opportunity you’ve created actually leads to prompt follow-up or follow-through. Scour the emails sitting in an obscure sweepstakes@yourcompany.com inbox from some bygone campaign, mentions of your company or product on Twitter, or customer inquiries embedded in Yelp reviews. That type of customer-generated content can have a ton of golden nuggets you might otherwise miss from official feedback loops.

Being completely in the loop on your customer relations means you have to read voraciously.

  • To get a leg up on what’s top of mind for prospective customers, subscribe to the publications they do.
  • Read up on what they’re saying about your competition and what your competition is saying to them.
  • Study how they search and obtain information, so you can effectively reach them with pertinent messages that demonstrate your deep understanding of their needs and pain points.

These are all ways you can better answer prospects’ questions—and deliver value—as they interact with your brand and products.

Be where your customers are. (Depending on where they are, you might be able to fulfill both a personal and work resolution.) It might seem obvious, but if you work in a SaaS business, you likely only interact with customers remotely. Yet physically traveling to where your constituents reside can provide rare and powerful insights, especially if you have a global customer base.

If budget allows (given all that money you saved by exercising ruthless prioritization), take a page out of Intuit’s company playbook and try your own Follow Me Home program, in which you visit customers on-site and purely observe them. According to Intuit CEO Brad Smith, the company funnels customer insights into product innovation by conducting nearly 10,000 hours of follow-me-homes a year and “observe customers where they live, work and do business—from home offices and coffee shops to rural farms in India.”

If frequent or international trips aren’t realistic, opt to squeeze in a customer meeting with every mandatory business trip. Conduct a listening tour of nearby clients every few months to keep a pulse on local communities—or bring customers to you by hosting a feedback session over breakfast or lunch at your company.

Last but not least, there’s always learning opportunities at conferences and events. Attend one that targets industries or functions relevant to your customers and get an inside look at their world.

There are a lot of options here. Look beyond the superficial level of your relationship with your customer; prioritize your time (and budget!) to focus on the biggest issues; steep yourself in the knowledge they consume; and make an effort to actually get to know them.

Remember that you start learning about your customer and their needs by asking questions. Keeping an open, inquisitive mind will go a long way in helping you understand the things that will bring you and your customer closer together.

Committing to a personal New Year’s resolution isn’t always easy—or even successful. But if you commit to improving your customer relations (with the tips we’ve mentioned here or with others) then you’re sure to get results.