All businesses need to work hard to keep existing customers happy, but to grow, they must also seek out and win over new ones. Where that involves persuading people to switch brands or suppliers, product and marketing teams will need to give them a compelling reason to make that switch.
Hearing about great, refreshing and easy customer experiences can help cement that decision for a customer.
Consumer organisations have campaigned to make it easier for customers to break free of existing suppliers and to choose alternatives. Number portability and ‘switch’ apps now remove barriers to moving between mobile network providers and devices.
Aggregator services (for utilities or insurance) take the pain out of product comparisons and benefits transfer.
Banks will automatically copy across direct debits and standing orders if a customer transfers their account to a new provider. And customers are now more likely to choose entertainment and subscription service providers that won’t tie them to a lengthy contract. Just look at Netflix’s success.
When companies can’t rely on locking customers in, they have to work harder to be enticing, to add value and to keep innovating. Where existing customers benefit from this, they will spread the word and attract new business by word of mouth. A great customer experience sells itself.
The culture of a business matters more than ever now, too. So communicating the right values, and showing that they run right through the organisation, is important in winning the hearts and minds of new customers.
Increasingly, customers are looking to brands that take a wider view on the world and the challenges facing us all. In fact they’re now 4-to-6 times more likely to buy from, trust and champion businesses with a strong ‘purpose’, according to a global study of 8,000 global consumers.
When customers are proactively looking for a new product or alternative provider, the most likely action they’ll take is to search on the internet for the best options.
Increasingly web and mobile search won’t be just text-based but also voice-activated – so businesses may need to adapt their strategies to match their content so it can be picked up more readily by natural language queries.
It’ll be well worth it. Voice-based shopping could be worth £3.5 billion in the UK and $40 billion in the US by 2022.
This doesn’t just mean placing ads where target customer groups are active. It’s also about connecting with them in places that might have been dark spots in the past, e.g. when people are out and about in the physical world.
An intuitive and feature-rich app which regularly serves up promotions to ‘members’ is a great way to engage potential new customers. This then provides the basis for an ongoing, consensual relationship.
As long as the recipient sees the benefits and isn’t bombarded with poorly targeted messages, companies can get to know more about them. This gives them a chance to hone any offers.
They could also encourage customers to switch on Bluetooth or geolocation options with more targeted promotions (‘Let us know next time you’re in Rome city centre and we’ll send you a same-day voucher for a free pizza’). In the process, they‘ll learn more about where customers go and what they do (using AI/machine learning, for example).
When a company is a great place to work and employees have access to the latest tools and information, their belief in the organisation is infectious.
Equip staff to excel, empathise and impress. Give them the tools to access the customer insights they need to personalise advice and recommendations.
When a business supports its staff to do a great job, customers experience the benefits and need less ‘conversion’.
More formal employee advocacy can work well, too – as long as staff believe or support what they’re sharing.
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