From customer engagement to Customer Marriage

Hello everyone, hope all is well at your end. Today I completed my 10K run between the early morning breezes, lovely flying birds & wonderful sunrise and soon after I started writing this article. Now what the heck customer marriage is?

In our day to day business, we do talk about customer engagement but why don’t we take this to the next level ‘customer marriage’ and deepen the relationship further?

customer marriage_eBusiness IndiaFigure: Various phases of online customer

Lots of Indian e-Commerce emerging portals offer massive discounts to attract more customers. Later they bleed in losses and shut down (this we have seen happening with many players). You can afford to do so if you have money & muscle power like Amazon India. Do not forget best businesses strive hard towards profitability and customer retention. Strategy should be how you could be different & customer driven?

The days are gone when business owners used to play with discounts OR a celebrity used to come during TV commercial break appealing us to use the product for which he/she was paid to promote. Customer maturity level has gone up and they expect better relationships. Let us look at few examples:

Apple- Any apple product such as iPhone, iPad, Macbook sells at almost double price compare to any other brands. They do not sell products they sell dreams; they sell master pieces of functional art, they focus on perfection at every touch point with customers.

Let us take another extreme example- I am sure few of us are regular Shell customers. Why we pay more at Shell petrol bunk for same quantity of petrol compared to other petrol bunks? Because they do not sell petrol rather they sell trust and happiness to customers. They achieve this by ensuring premium product, speedy response to customer queries, excellent customer service, and safety first, convenience, well behaved staff & customer delight.

So what is common in between the above examples? They all focus on creating values in long run & ‘get married’ with the customer.

“Loyal online customers have- almost double visit to carts, almost triple conversion rate, 10% higher cart value” –Source: MarketLive Performance Index

At starting point, ensure that a customer has a first sight crush on you through the usage of right set and means of communication & methods. Once a customer is impressed, he/she wants to taste your offerings. During customer engagement, ensure you give best first time experience of your offerings and customer gets comfortable with you. Now it is time to convert them to Married Customers. Married ones buy more from you with better longevity, refer their friends, willing to buy products from your other categories & help you with genuine feedback to improve. Loyalty of online customers fosters the long-term profitability of online stores. At the same time, it is cheaper than finding a new customer. Few of the key elements of online customer’s marriage:

  • Do deliver on your promises, always.
  • Offer a fair & genuine price for your offering (not cheap price).
  • Have a clear differentiator (not limited to product only). E.g. shopno47.com an Bangalore based online mobile shop where they deliver your product within 1 hour 47 minutes guaranteed, ‘hate to wait’ is their tag line.
  • Innovate in business model, customer service & value delivery system. E.g. Caratlane.com offers you try-at-home option for diamond jewelry to provide touch/feel factor. eBay India’s Paisa Pay feature to fuel the trust. Fashionara’s online customers can order several apparels for a free home trial and many more examples.
  • Keep your customer informed if there is an issue with their online orders related to product unavailability, product color/size, delivery delay etc.
  • Design your personalized campaigns through intelligent customer data mining & analysis. Do not forget to wish your customers on their important dates (Birthday, anniversary etc.). Have personalized messaging based on online buying patterns & create exclusive online customer groups with the similar interests.
  • Ensure you get to see continuous feedback & satisfaction matrix, on time. Here is one method I recommend to all http://bit.ly/NetPromoterScore.
  • Communicate company’s vision to your vendor, staff & customer care team regularly, who will have direct/indirect impact on your customer experience.
  • In today’s fast paced communication world, customers want to communicate when, where and how they want? Hence it is imperative that we constantly monitor & optimize over various touch points (social media, online forums, email & phone). And ensure speedy & appropriate responses.

Note: Above examples are not to promote any brand, just a personal opinion relating the topic.

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