No business—small-, medium-, or corporate-sized—stays on top by being complacent. Increasingly and across many sectors, elevating revenues and income means more than just providing better goods or services than your competitors.
Key is communicating your brand’s expertise clearly, efficiently, comprehensively, and immediately—with updates and tweaks—to customers whether they are consumers, retailers, or wholesalers. That’s where the Internet has proven to be an incomparable resource to reach and teach a buyer or potential customer that you have the best product offer.
Since 2007, J.D. Power and Associates has ranked the 12 largest U.S. credit card issuers in customer satisfaction. American Express has topped the list each year.
Doris Daif, vice president of global digital customer experience, says that achieving and maintaining digital customer trust and respect is continually upgraded at American Express. Those tweaks can be modeled by entrepreneurs in other industries to upgrade their own businesses.
American Express, which has highly engaged customers, uses social media to solicit Web-tweaking suggestions and feedback. The card company receives more than 20,000 responses per month and roughly 75% take time to comment on their experience. In late 2011, AmericanExpress.com began beta testing its own upgrade.
The company simplified navigation, enhanced the search capability, and made the page more user-friendly. “It all begins with service. It is always about the customer. The entire thing goes back to being available 24/7, as customers won’t wait around, and [customer] decisions are made at lightning speed,” says Daif. Be aware that customer involvement drives and informs the interactive process and experience.
Daif shares American Express’ knowledge about how to keep customers:
1 Remember to go slow, to go fast. Companies must know as much as possible about their customers’ product or service needs, buying power, and what they really want to do. That insight will determine whether your business succeeds or fails.
2 It’s not enough to simply hear what customers say, you must actively listen. Digital feedback has to be sought and captured continually. If possible, customer satisfaction survey requests should be made within 48 hours of their purchasing a good or service and need to be as brief as possible to make it easy for users to respond. Place a very visible button on the site for customers to express their opinion.
3 Discard the perception that phone calls have more of a personal touch. Today’s customers interact digitally where information and feedback should be fast, firm, and flawless. They are increasingly using the Internet and mobile devices to access information as well as digital offers and to make buying decisions.
4 Do not outsource your company’s connection to customers. Small business owners must know who they are, and be intimate with their users and what they want. Also, a company’s website must reflect the spirit, philosophy, knowledge, research, and mission of the company. Personalize your interaction with customers.
5 Invest as much in the back office as in the online design. The back office is where your company has data and insight on its customers as well as the technology required to make interactions fast and friction-free. Your website may have bells and whistles to attract customers, but once they click, what information, goods, or services will they find useful?
Here Are Some Easy-to-Use Customer Feedback Tools
SurveyMonkey.com is an online survey tool that allows you to collect data via Web link, e-mail, Facebook, or embed on your site or blog. You can also create customer surveys to post on your site. Price: free to $65 per month.
GetSatisfaction.com provides an app to build online communities that enable customers to offer feedback, ask questions, share ideas, report problems, and get help with a product or service. Price: free to $99 per month.
Feedbackify.com is a website widget that allows you to create a custom form to receive feedback from website visitors and to get information on your customers. A dashboard lets you view feedback in real time. Price: $19 per month.
Facebook.com is a tool to initiate a dialogue with followers using your status update. Through the Facebook Developers platform you can install a comment box plug-in on your site, providing customers with an immediate space to give feedback. Price: free.