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Customers are the essence of your business. What they may not know is that strengthening customer relationships determines a company’s economic value.

As brands, product names and trademarks become less and less valuable, the value of companies is increasingly linked to the number and quality of existing customers and their loyalty to the brand.

Big brands like Whole Foods and spice company McCormick have already started using social media stats (number of followers, levels of customer engagement) rather than traditional metrics like sales and turnover, as a measure of the value of its brands.

Are you fascinating your customers?

So how do you keep your customers coming and increase your brand value? According to experts, to achieve customer loyalty, it should not focus on reducing prices or increasing the product line. Rather, it should focus on delivering outstanding service. Consulting firm Walker predicts that by 2020, customer experience will be the first brand differentiator – staying ahead of price and product . The trend is already very evident: Bain & Company says that the customer is 4 times more likely to go to a competitor if the problem is service-related than a price or product issue.

So how can you improve your customer service, retain more customers and make your brand more valuable? We have 5 tips for you:

Spread the word in your company

Has your customer service made your company-wide priority? Or wrongly believe that only the sales force should care about customer service?

Customer service must become an integral part of every aspect of your business – not just the marketing department or the sales team. Putting customers first across the company encompasses very different aspects: for example, information should be easily accessible and understandable on your website and in stores; be honest and clear (ie don’t hide delivery costs on your website, don’t have complex return policies, don’t have surprise fees); it is essential that communication channels remain open under any circumstances, at any time, at all levels.

be available

Social media analysis company Socialbakers says that, on average, companies answer only 30% of the questions they receive via Twitter. In contrast, 7 out of 10 customers expect an answer to the questions that companies ask via Twitter. Of these, 53% expect a response in less than an hour. How do we interpret these statistics? Companies typically disappoint and annoy at least half of the people who come to them through social media. This is a considerable amount of your customer base, especially considering that when we don’t respond to questions or complaints on social media, all customers will see – not just the ones who posted them.

Social networks are an excellent way to keep in touch with your audience: communication is immediate and offers a more personalized experience with the brand. It pays to interact with your followers: A recent Rosetta Consulting study shows that people are 7 times more likely to respond to promotional offers from brands that interact with them in a meaningful way.

Above all, personalized and fast communication on social networks has become the benchmark of a service: it cannot afford to have customers waiting – or worse, feeling ignored.

All feedback is positive feedback.

When customers send you suggestions:

All feedback is positive feedback

  1. Take some time to consider them (after all, these are the people who buy your products and use your services; as such, they know what they are talking about)
  2. Immediately discards them (after all, they buy your stuff but what do they know about running a business?)

If you answered “2” – well, your company is in trouble. Smart brands accept feedback from their customers, both positive and negative, and use it to improve their products and services. Implementing customer suggestions has two major benefits:

  • You can improve your product and service lines;
  • It can turn your detractors into your biggest fans.

Swiss supermarket Coop has found that its most loyal fans are not, as you would expect, customers who have never had a problem with Coop’s services. Surprisingly, the most loyal supporters of this supermarket were the customers who filed complaints and had their problems resolved. Dissatisfied customers can be a driving force behind your company: don’t belittle their opinions.

Rate what they say about you on social media

We’ve already discussed how you can use social media sites to interact with your customers and promote your brand. Social networks are also great places to measure the pulse of customers.

More and more, the modern customer shares their purchases on social networks, making these networks precious windows for people’s tastes and preferences.

Look at references and interactions with your brand and analyze the information: What time of day are your customers most active on social media? How many comments convey positive or negative feedback? How many comments are generated by a bad customer experience in person or online? What do your followers and customers like them like to talk about and share?

Amplify your presence on social media to find out what consumers really want – and be the first to satisfy them.

Offer valuable content

To create real engagement on social media, you need to offer valuable content to your customers. Look closely at your social media accounts and ask yourself: what do my customers do do they gain from it? Are you giving them something valuable, like useful content, special incentives, exclusive information or polls that influence their decisions? Or are you just sharing images, products and ads promoting your brand? If you’re just using your social media sites to act as a megaphone for your products and marketing activities, you’ve got to change your strategy – now.

Are you running the customer-oriented business? If not, it’s time to change direction and bring added value to your brand.

Original from the LS Retail blog.