10 Sep With The History Of Lies In Customer Service, How Do You Build An Authentic Customer Relationship?
A history of lies makes it hard to build a lasting relationship. That applies to businesses and customers, not just families and friends. How do you build an authentic customer relationship in a business climate known for manipulating customers?
Authenticity and Transparency
You’re not doomed by the customer service cycle of lies, but you need to understand how to evolve your customer experience to build an authentic customer relationship.
These two concepts often get mashed together. They aren’t the same thing.
Authenticity is a truthful presentation of self/brand. Your customers want to know who you are and if your values are in line with theirs.
Inauthentic is essentially fake:
- Saying one thing then doing another. Claiming that you value your customers, then treating them badly
- Misrepresenting your company
Authentic is when your words and actions match:
- Saying your customers are important and valuing them at every touchpoint
- Stating your brand beliefs, vision and backing it up with your practices
Survey’s like Stackla’s 2017 Consumer Content Report indicated 86% of consumers think authenticity is important in deciding what brands to use. Their 2018 report increased that stat to 90%.
Pam Moore observes one of the problems with confusing transparency and authenticity: “They often end up in a branding cycle,where they never feel comfortable sharing. So they just end up sounding like corporate speak 24/7 – or they might do the opposite and share everything…”
Transparency is being able to see what is going on. The opposite of that is unclear, obfuscated. Examples of obfuscation:
- Hiding expiration dates, limitations and exclusions in the small print or overly long terms
- Omitting important information
- Ambiguous business practices and/or partners
- Using excessive legalese or confusing language
- Not disclosing how customer data in obtained and used
Transparency is the flipside of this:
- Fully informing the customer so they can make a confident decision
- Making business practices and partners public
- Obtaining consent from the customer to collect their data and detailing how it will be used and stored
This points to your brand voice. What is your company’s personality? This doesn’t mean you have to be a warm and fuzzy brand. Just be clear about who you are and back it up with how your business runs and behaves across the board.
You can have a playful voice and still prioritize sustainability in your business practices, like fashion line Zero Waste Daniel.
A brand that makes cost saving for both their business and their customer the main driving factor may have a practical voice.
It isn’t about right and wrong, healthy or unhealthy. Consumers want different products and experiences. Some people want six pack abs, a lean diet and no distractions. Some people want full fat, straight up indulgence at each meal and love a good laugh. Who is your customer? Knowing that answer helps you build an authentic customer relationship.
It’s great to be inspired by other brands with great personality, but be clear about who you are. Don’t try to copy a voice not authentic to your brand. You won’t be able to sustain it and will come across as fake.
Branding requires a unified voice. Make sure the people working on your website copy, social posts, press releases, product packaging and any other brand text all understand how to write in your brand voice.
Companies see a customer need and fill it. They do this with more than just their product. The customer experience of a brand can be just as satisfying as the product itself. Then a brand can kill it in the marketplace.
In Brand Watch’s report analyzing 17 million real customer conversations over 240 brands Olive Garden came out as one of the top brands in the eyes of consumers. One of the reasons they were in the top three was because of their responsiveness. It was nearly five times higher than the average for their industry. The restaurant chain used social to respond to both positive and negative customer posts. Their appreciation of positive customer mentions came with a friendly vibe and offers for free product.
This kind of in-depth customer experience is a chance for a brand to make a real impression on customers. The Olive Garden annual Never Ending Pasta Pass sold out in seconds this year. If the brand can keep it up, it has the potential to build long-term relationships. This is the power of consistency.
This kind of in-depth customer experience is a chance for a brand to make a real impression on customers. If the brand can keep it up, it has the potential to build long-term relationships. This is the power of consistency.
All of the above needs to be consistent across platforms and products for maximum effect. This is especially true when your brand is just beginning or going through a rebranding. Make sure your brand voice and values on your social posts match your contact center practices, your website and all other platforms.
If you have a very corporate voice on your website, and an irreverent, funny voice on Instagram it doesn’t match. Your customers will notice this inconsistency.
This impacts the numbers. According to a LucidPress Report, brand consistency results in an average profit increase of 23%.
In the End It’s All About Trust
All of the previous points lead to trust, a backbone to long-standing customer relationships. Trust is built and strengthened over time.
As we discussed in a previous blog, problems will arise. Owning your mistakes helps maintain and rebuild trust, so does empathy.
You have the opportunity to create trust at every touchpoint with your customers. How you talk to them is as important as where and when.
Tools, like CSAT.AI, assist your customer service agents in providing consistent, empathetic customer support. Schedule a demo to find out how CSAT.AI can help you with your customer relationships.