It’s Not Just the Product Anymore. It’s a Relationship!

Just trust me.

You’ve heard it before — maybe in a movie scene, or from a partner in crime, or an especially tough coach. Just-trust-me!

In today’s marketplace, products may be a dime a dozen, but trust — well, that’s worth its weight in gold. In fact, statistics suggest that a landslide 83% of customers are more likely to recommend a trusted company to friends, and 82% will be more inclined to use that brand more often.

It’s a relationship.

People — real people — are increasingly important to the identity of any product. And while those people are CEO’s, founders, creatives, brand experts, designers, and sales representatives, they’re also the support teams just on the other side of every customer interaction.

That’s a big job.

Every customer support moment — each call or chat or message — has the opportunity to build a real relationship with the human on the line. It’s a chance to win trust, and that can translate to big wins for your team, even if it all comes in tiny moments.

How can we get there?

Do Something Extra

Each conversation is a new opportunity to do more. As e-commerce support specialists, we, at Influx, see it every day — memorable, personable, thoughtful service impacts guests and customers well beyond an immediate interaction. It sticks with them long after you’ve moved on to help someone else.

We love stories from folks like Warby Parker’s co-founder and joint CEO Neil Blumenthal, who’s made it a point to build a team that’s constantly communicating. From making short, personalized videos for customers to picking up on pop culture chats, they pay attention to personal cues — and go the extra mile to connect whenever they can.

We like to think of it as “stickiness.” How can you go on to support your customers and exceed expectations? What can you do to turn a customer interaction into a genuine conversation? Brand buy-in needn’t always be bought; it can be won. Engaging customers throughout their lifetime, and working well beyond the sale builds lasting trust and authentic, organic relationships.

Listen for Real

It’s safe to say that automated messages and robot-speak are, well, past their prime. An immediate “Thank you for reporting an issue.” auto-trigger will get you nowhere, and it’s no wonder: while the response provides a pleasant placeholder, customers can tell that no one has really heard them.

Kirsty Traill, the VP of Customer at Hootsuite, can’t emphasize the importance of a real voice enough. Having spent the last 10 years building teams with a fully integrated and genuine brand voice backed by clear, company-wide guidelines, Kirsty has seen the effects of genuine customer conversations firsthand.

“There is so much opportunity to take customers, make them into loyal raving fans, and then use those loyal raving fans to advocate on behalf of your business to drive more demand back into your business,” she celebrates. “This prevents you from spending all of your dollars on demand generation because you have got this incredibly loyal fan base who can continually refer people to your business.”

These conversations always begin with one very serious skill: listening.

For example, we know it’s always best to truly listen, and ask for a public review from a customer at the right time. Are they engaged? Happy? Enthusiastic? That’s the moment in the conversation to channel the good vibes into great feedback with lasting impact. According to a recent study on good listening in the Harvard Business Review, the best conversations are an active, two-way street.

– Good listening means asking questions.

– Dialogue should always be engaged and curious.

– Great listeners intentionally create positive experiences.

– Good listening creates an environment where both parties (hey there, customer!) feel supported and safe.

– Cooperative conversation is more memorable and makes people feel heard.
We couldn’t agree more.

Let’s Give Them Something to Talk About

Who loves referrals? Quite literally, EVERYONE. Customer referrals, word of mouth, positive reviews, social media likes: we want to get people talking. Companies who can manage to swing a high NPS score display a direct correlation to growth, and growing is another thing that every brand loves.

An NPS, or Net Promoter Score, achieves a technical calculation of what may seem immeasurable: the likelihood that a customer will recommend your service to their social circle. It groups respondents on a numerical scale and yields a resulting number that’s been deemed essential to everything from measuring brand perceptions to indicating future growth. While it originated in the business world, breaking out a “scoring” system for customer experience has proven key to strategy in countless industries the world over.

It’s a nice tool. Lots of folks use it. But what we really want — well beyond a survey score — is that idle chat. When someone you trust offers a recommendation, you listen. And we want those conversations. How do you supercharge that referral potential for your customers in their day-to-day?

Ask. Request reviews. Provide opportunities for open comment. Survey. Check in throughout the process. If you want to connect with customers — and make them feel involved — ask them to join the conversation!

Keep in touch. A lasting impression comes from a complete experience. Every step in the customers’ journey with your product counts — be there for it, and you’ll have forever fans.

Be the solution. Problems happen. If you can provide solutions, your team wins the kind of trust that gets people talking — and keeps them coming back for more.

Conclusion

People want the real-real. By approaching the work as we’d approach a personal interaction, we can give customers genuine conversations and actual brand relationships. It’s important, it’s valuable, and it’s the future of great (repeatable!) business.