Like any commitment, customer relationships are a two-way street. Take marriage as an example, most people accept that good ones are based on strong bonds of trust, shared positive experiences and a mutual understanding and a willingness to work through any challenges in good faith. Often, couples begin their journey into married life by agreeing vows that shape and guide that relationship as it grows, in many cases returning to renew those vows as the relationship grows.

Customer relationships aren’t marriages, of course, but there are definitely parallels and lessons that businesses can learn from them to understand the idea of ‘customer commitment’ – a much abused term in the marketing lexicon.

Start with a plan

Much like marriage vows, by defining what you want your customer experience (CX) to be in a clear vision statement, you will create a reference point for employees that will guide them on their journey with the customer. As a result, everyone will know what is expected from them when it comes to ensuring customer satisfaction. The easiest way to create a customer-centric vision statement is by focusing on key expectations from customers. By understanding who your customers are and what they expect, through research for example, you will be better-able to create a guiding vision for the future. 

Build Trust

More and more elements of the contact centre are becoming automated with artificial intelligence (AI) able to manage low level tasks. As a result, agents are dealing with more complex issues and so providing training to ensure they’re confident in talking and dealing with customers is essential – both to their professional development and to build trust with customers. No customer wants to feel ‘processed’, and how agents respond to someone that is angry or upset is crucial, especially in the early days of the relationship. 

Show you value the relationship

Customers don’t think in channels, they expect to access a business in the manner they find most convenient. It doesn’t matter if it’s talking face-to-face, by phone or email, via social media or live chat, customers expect your business to be there when they need you. If you’re not providing an omnichannel service experience and expect your customers to interact with you only on your terms, then you are not demonstrating customer commitment. Your customers will soon stray to a competitor that does.

Listen to your customers

In any relationship, open and honest feedback is vital. Feedback loops are a great way to listen to and learn from your customers. Creating a systematic approach to collecting feedback gives your business the opportunity to hear what your customers think of the CX you provide. Used effectively, this means you can optimise your customer service to ensure it’s as personalised as possible. A well-integrated CRM can also help you implement automated tools such as post-call surveys that provide even more insightful feedback.

Learn and grow

Listening to your customers and understanding the CX they require is only part of the process.  The key to growth is putting that feedback into action, which means your customer profiles must change and adapt. Consistently reviewing your customers’ preferences ensures you keep offering a personalised experience. It’s crucial to keep learning and building knowledge so the insight you glean can be used to develop increasingly personalised interactions with your customers.

Be human

There’s no doubt that chatbots and automated self-service technologies have redefined customer relationship management. At the same time as offering businesses scalability and speed, they empower customers who demand 24/7 access. Yet despite the benefits, agents still hold the advantage over machines in the most important area of managing the customer experience: forging positive relationships.

Most chatbots run on rule-based code. This means they use a list of pre-set rules to handle queries and can only respond to simple requests; as soon as a scenario goes ‘off script’ or the situation gets emotional or complex, machines struggle. In such situations, chatbot-to-agent escalation paths are the only way to make sure a real person can connect the dots in your customers’ omni-channel journey.

Bringing it all together

This advice is all very well, but it only works if every point of contact with the customer works together seamlessly. For example, if you use Salesforce to manage your customer relationships, you’ll need a way to effortlessly transfer interactions from digital to voice. As an omnichannel contact centre solution fully integrated for Salesforce, Vonage will seamlessly integrate all your customer contact channels with your CRM data, providing the capability to personalise conversations, regardless of location, device, or channel.

And this is the key. By first understanding your customer, then continuously listening, improving and valuing their business you demonstrate true commitment and allow the relationship to grow.  Isn’t it time you renewed your vows to customer commitment?

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