Posted on Jan 4th 2017 under Customer Loyalty
The internet has brought many changes to society, but marketing has probably seen some of the most dramatic changes of all. From billboards and TV ads that insist you must buy this product now, we have moved on to a digital world where customers are not passive entities waiting for our message to be delivered, instead they are pro-active knowledge seekers, researching online to find the best products, services and deals for their needs.
Once a customer finds a limousine or transport company that provides the service they want at a price they are comfortable with, they are very likely to use that service. If the service lives up to expectations and they treat that customer right, then why would they look elsewhere? Chances are, that is a repeat customer.
Not only would they be a repeat customer, but someone who has found this fantastic company and service themselves are far more likely to tell everyone they know about it, with word-of-mouth promotion that really is invaluable for any business. When they tell their friends what a fantastic service they have received, the nature of social media today means that message can spread, quickly, and to hundreds, even thousands of people.
However, to enjoy any of these benefits, you need to ensure that your business is focused on increasing customer engagement and customer loyalty.
There are many definitions of customer engagement, but the reality is that they are mostly just different ways of saying the same thing. Customer engagement is all about the relationship between your company or brand and the customer, how they view it, how they are treated by it, and how they interact with it. That can mean many things, from direct personal meetings, conversations on the phone or, more frequently these days, interactions online, whether via your website, blogs, social media or online ads.
Some like to think of today's customer engagement as we used to think of a call center, where customers can contact the business and get both the information they need and any queries answered, solving their problems and meeting expectations. This is of course, the core of customer engagement, however I the digital world it happens a little differently:
- In the modern marketplace, customers come from all over the world, in every time zone, and as a group they are online every day of the year, and every hour of the day
- Customers are also looking for assistance no matter where they are, with surveys suggesting as many as 78% of consumers have used a mobile app to access customer service solutions in the past
- Customers tend to be the driving force in any communication with business, seeking solutions actively rather than passively waiting for them
- Customers also want that help on their own terms, through the medium that best suits, where and when they want
To meet that kind of customer expectation, customer service needs to be an integral part of every aspect of your Limousine or transportation business, rather than some added on afterthought.
You may not have a 24/7 phone center, but you can still use your website to provide solutions to common problems and questions via an FAQ on your website, and the same applies to a broad range of information your customers may want access to. Interaction with your customer base can be efficiently managed via social media accounts, and this combination of online, and when needed a personal solution via phone call, can help you meet customer expectations and manage your customer service solution and customer relationships very effectively.
It is important to remember that customer engagement is not just a single encounter, instead it is an ongoing conversation, with the desired goal to build a continuing relationship with each customer, because surveys show us this is incredibly beneficial to any business.
Customers who are actively engaged with a business spend on average 30% more than others, and rank as much as 33 points higher on the Net Promoter Score, a measure of customer loyalty.
Whether you have relevant website information, a full time customer service solution via phone or web chat, or a mobile app to fulfill the service, providing your customers with that always accessible contact and answers not only gives customers exactly what they desire, and more frequently today expect, but every time they engage with that service, it builds loyalty with your business.
This is often referred to as customer retention, and is essential for the long term health of any business. This is because customer loyalty and retention are the power behind referrals, the relationship with these customers is much easier and far less costly than creating new relationships with new customers, offering significant savings and driving up revenues. There are some factors that illustrate just how important customer loyalty is:
- For a given 4-year period, reducing customer turnover by as little as 5% can increase profits by as much as 25%
- It costs your business 5 times more to gain a new customer than it does to retain an existing one
- On average, 5% of your customer base will account for 80% of your revenue
- You have a 60% to 70% chance to sell to an existing customer, compared to between 5% and 20% chance of selling to a new potential customer
Customer loyalty used to be much easier to gain, before the internet information was more difficult to find, and people tended to use the nearest service to their work/home, so a customer uses you, as long as you provide a good service, that was that. Today, competing brands are not just a once a month ad in the newspaper or a sign over their store, they are all over the internet, easily accessible, and actively looking for customers, providing them with choice. That means you need to work hard to give your customers a reason to remain loyal to your business.
Just being the nearest or most convenient is no longer enough, online ordering means that a car arrives when the customer wants, and they don't really need to know where it came from, the main office could be in another state, the car still arrives on time, and that is all the customer sees. Customers can also quickly compare prices, look at online reviews, even compare vehicles and other aspects of the service, quickly and easily, and that is why ongoing customer engagement is essential to retain loyalty from your customers.
Losing your loyal customers can have a dramatic effect, and as revealed by a KissMetrics report recently, there are many ways to lose them:
- Poor treatment received from the business accounts for 63% of customers leaving
- Dissatisfaction with the product or Service accounts for 14% of customers leaving
- Customers simply moving on to a competing business accounts for another 9%
- Customers who look for an alternative to the provided service account for another 5%
- The final 4% are lost through death or leaving the area
Also noted by Kissmetrics, 71% of consumers claim to have stopped dealing with a company due to not being happy with their customer service, and in the US, that poor customer service has cost business as much as $83 Billion. However, even with these stark figures highlighting the importance of customer loyalty, many businesses still plough all their marketing efforts and funding into finding new customers and fail to build relationships with the ones they have. For success, you really need both.
Achieving high levels of customer engagement and loyalty
There are many strategies you can adopt to promote customer engagement, and gain customer loyalty and retention from it, however there are three main areas that business should consider for customer engagement, understanding your customers' needs, providing quality service and offering meaningful recognition and rewards.
Understanding your customer's needs
This is something every business think they already do well, your customers want a limousine or chauffeured transport to get them where they want to go, when they want to get there, but for a complete understanding you need to examine a raft of collected data about your service and your customers. This collected data can help you see where your customers are focusing, and how you can better match their needs by adapting your service. The areas involved can include:
- Who exactly are your customers? Age, gender and so on
- What your customers do? This includes both employment and in their spare time, what do they enjoy?
- When they need the service and why they use the service?
- The economic profile of your customers, what can they afford?
- How they like to purchase, online, over the phone or in person?
- What they are expecting from your service, how do they view your competitors?
By collecting data about your customers, age, gender, income and so on, allows you to gain insight into their lifestyles, what they want, and what they view as important. You can quickly gain basic data by having customers register for an email list to be kept up to date with your business. By presenting them with online surveys and questionnaires over time, multiple choice questions provide robust, defined data, while open ended questions can take more effort to analyze, but offer a deeper understanding of each customer.
Defining surveys takes time and effort, and retaining a standard of quality throughout is difficult but essential, you also need to have a solid analysis system in place to gain the most insight, but the results are worth the effort for your business.
Building an effective survey can be done is a few simple steps:
- Start with the objective, what you want to achieve with the collected data, and target your questions to achieve that
- The questions are everything. They need to be written very carefully, you can use focus groups to test the writing and responses to check you are getting the kind of answer you expect
- Use categories: Questions on a similar type should be grouped together, so all multiple choice together and so on. Mixing up question types tends to confuse and frustrate people
- Focus on survey management and analysis, without them a survey has no value
Setting up your own survey can be a major investment, in both time and money, however it does not have to be that way. By leveraging our expertise in the field through the RearViews customer feedback survey, we can take care of all the technical aspects of your survey, managing and analyzing your customer feedback for you. With years of experience in the industry, we know what questions need to be asked and how to ask them, and our full and detailed analysis provides you with the comprehensive, clear results you need to benefit your business.
Once you have a true understanding of your customer needs, and what they view as important, you can tailor your marketing approach to create a unique offer that provides exactly what the customer is looking for. That unique sales proposition, or USP, is the reason customers should choose your limousine business above all competition.
By collecting data on customers and analyzing it effectively, you can better identify the way your business is unique, why it stands out from the competition, and how to ensure your service remains attractive to customers.
Providing Quality Service
Knowing what your customer needs is not just about being able to create offers they find attractive, knowing what they value most about your service ensures that it is much easier to provide a quality service for them. Because quality can mean different things to different people, understanding exactly what customers view as quality means you can fine-tune your service to meet those expectations perfectly, every time. That personalized service that addresses their own needs is incredibly valuable for your customers and certain to build loyalty.
By addressing what the individual perceives as quality and providing it, you are creating a positive customer experience that will build loyalty and satisfaction. There are many forms of customer engagement that can accomplish this, and good examples of such strategies include:
- Listen: Customers usually have a lot to say, about you, your service, and just as importantly about the competition, and you need to listen to that. Social media is a great way to do this, keeping track of accounts connected to the industry can let you see those kinds of conversations quickly and easily, providing you with the information that you can use to tailor your own strategies
- Action: Listening to the things customers say about their experiences and thoughts is only of any use if you then act on it and provide real workable solutions that meet their needs. You can easily join in conversations on social media, offering useful information and solutions. Always be polite, professional and courteous, and never forget to thank people who praise you
- Honesty: Integrity online is hard won and easily lost, so always stay true to your company's beliefs to develop trust and build relationships with customers. Be honest and upfront with responses and interactions with others at all times. This is essential to build that trust, the foundation of any customer relationship
- Control: Remember who has it, the customer. They decide when these conversations happen, not you. Make sure they have the tools to start the conversation, various options depending on what they need. That can be an online form for booking a limousine, and a separate form for asking a question, try not to put everything into one place. Always make it easy for a customer to provide feedback, whether that is positive or negative in nature.
How you view customer relations is also a vital part of the success of any campaign, if you treat this as a friend-like relationship you are building, where both of you benefit, these moves to build customer loyalty are far more likely to be successful than if you view everything as a business process that you simply have to do.
Reward your Customers!
A high quality service and building trust and respect with customers is a sure way to build customer loyalty, but add in a customer loyalty program that rewards those same customers, and you make everything even more effective. Loyalty programs let your customer feel the value you place in them, ensuring repeat business from existing customers, but they also provide a real offer for new customers as well, an attractive reason to try the service.
In the past, punch cards, mileage points and so on have been the way loyalty programs have worked, but today we can do better, much better. Our LoyalRider program offers a modern, streamlined and easy to implement loyalty solution that is designed specifically for the limousine and chauffeured ground transport industry.
Using our proprietary technology platform, the system is simple to manage thanks to its integrated management tools, and makes rewarding your loyal customers incredibly easy. With a loyalty strategy focused on rewarding those that use your service, our single loyalty solution provides a diverse and versatile reward selection that is appreciated by frequent travelers, allowing you to align your brand with major airlines and market leaders in the wider travel related industry.
There are hundreds of loyalty programs available for businesses to choose from, however our tailored solution designed specifically for the limousine and ground transportation industry ensures that this is a loyalty program that matches your clients' needs and desires. By meeting those needs, this is a loyalty program that is designed to increase engagement and build brand loyalty.