Every year before our LiNC conference we ask our customers to submit entries for ‘The Lithys” Lithium’s Social Customer Excellence Awards. There were seven different categories this year, ranging from Excellence in Customer Satisfaction to Best Community Design, giving us the opportunity to recognize and reward our customers that are changing the game in the digital and social world. While there is only one winner for each category, it goes without saying that all of the entries uncover tried and true methods and customers who were willing to push the envelope and take risks to deliver the best customer experience. Over the next seven weeks we will go through the different Lithy categories and submissions (60 entries in total, view them here) and summarize the key points that have gotten our customers where they are today.
A good place to start is the Excellence in Customer Satisfaction category. After reading through the submissions, we identified two key factors needed to achieve excellent customer satisfaction- engagement and intimacy.
Any good relationship requires a certain level of intimacy. Obviously, you don’t have to go around hugging all of your customers but it is important to get to know them better.
Let’s use an example: You have an aunt who lives across the country. She always remembers your birthday and sends you a card with some money in it. You will be grateful for the thoughtful gesture but chances are you two aren’t close and neither of you make much of an effort outside of special events. She doesn’t know you well so you get a generic gift, an appropriate response to a birthday but not a meaningful, personal one. Your parents on the other hand will probably get you that thing you’ve always wanted because they have taken the time to get to know you. Through that intimacy they know what you like and how to make you happy because you have built a bond of trust.
Now let’s apply this to a company. You will do just fine if you act like an aunt. You are responding to customer needs and requests in a timely manner but if someone were to ask you more about the customers - who they are, what motivates them, what are they trying to solve etc… (Basically, the questions all companies are trying to figure out to drive their business)- then you are likely to be met with a blank stare. No one will wag their finger at you in disgust, but chances are customers would rather spend time with someone that knows them more intimately.
To know the customer, a company needs engagement and intimacy. This isn’t easy on a large customer base, which is why the Lithy submissions for this category are so powerful. You drive intimacy through listening and responding, user surveys, contests, events, Q&A sessions etc… that way you understand the trends of the community, the needs of your customers, and you can react to the information. No one is asking a company to parent 100,000 followers. Some will be more open and willing to interact than others and naturally, those are going to be the ones who reciprocate your efforts and meet them with their own.
TELUS, the 2014 winner of this category, launched the TELUS Neighborhood to help the growth of superusers and brand advocates. Scotty Jackson, Sr. Strategy Manager said, “[Our] engagement strategy was putting customers first with our goals of delivering strong social experiences.” By delivering these strong experiences, their customers were more willing to advocate for the brand due to a deeper, personalized connection.
By making customers feel valued you have built a circle of trust. Without the need for interrogation methods!
Trust also comes from engagement and intimacy. When there is trust, people will open up and begin to share more. In the majority of our submissions, companies also talked about opening up their communities to their customers. The customers shared their knowledge and provided valuable content to the communities. By enabling customers to interact with each other and the brand, a mutual trust is formed so if anything negative comes along your brand advocates will happily back you up. Free of charge!
Darren Choo, AVP of Social CRM at StarHub defines this process. He says, “In creating a new platform, it was crucial that it be instrumental in cultivating brand advocates where in times of need, users could step in to defend the brand on our behalf from the ‘bashing’ conducted by others.” StarHub trusted their customers, gave them a platform to actively engage with each other and in turn built a relationship where the users were loyal to their brand and defended them when necessary.
Getting to know your customers and building relationships with them is not easy. But, being the best never is. The key to excellence is to go above and beyond and take the relationship one step further. In doing that, you will be one step closer to achieving excellence in customer satisfaction.
Stay tuned as we uncover more best practices from our Lithy submissions.
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