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Build your customer base by keeping it real

The local e-Commerce market, which has evolved from the humble blogshops to online retailers and massive online marketplaces, is expected to be worth S$7.5 billion by 2026, according to a Gov.sg report in 2016. Consumers are given access to a wider range of products at lower prices, with the added convenience of having purchases delivered right to their doorstep. Digital disruption is creating empowered, informed consumers who shop anytime and anywhere.

Between increased competition and discerning customers, how can your business stand out? By having a stellar customer experience.

Businesses are often so focused on growing their pool of clientele, that in their quest for new customers, they may tend to neglect their existing customers. However, Invesp found it costs five times as much to attract a new customer, than to keep an existing one.

The importance of customer experience as a competitive advantage continues to grow. Brands have to master the balancing act of building loyalty among current customers and offering services that brings new customers in the door. Here are five tips that can help maintain the equilibrium.

1. Humanise your brand
People trust the people behind companies. If you aren’t showing the human side of your brand, you aren’t giving potential customers the opportunity to build trust and loyalty with the people and ideas that make your business a reality.

Connect with your customers on social media, and be consistent with your engagement. Commit time every day to monitor your social media accounts and respond to brand mentions and enquiries. Smart customer responses can help improve your online reputation.

If you’re unsure where to begin, why not consider Facebook Live or Instagram Stories? Videos can help put a face behind products and services, which help customers relate on a more personal level with your brand. On Instagram Stories, you can even add a “Swipe Up” function with a call to action or to direct the consumers to your website.

2. Share a cause
In recent years, consumer preferences have shifted towards socially responsible companies. 64 percent of consumers in Asia Pacific are willing to pay more for products and services provided by companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact, with 51 percent of Singaporeans more likely to recommend a brand that gives even a small portion of its annual profits to charity.

This trend is even more pronounced among millennials, who will soon be the dominant generation in terms of buying power. Instead of keeping causes a separate part of your life, make them part of your business and be open about it. Your customers will have a more positive image of your brand — and that can make them more willing to do business with you.

3. A personal touch
A Bain & Company study found that 60 to 80 percent of customers who describe themselves as satisfied do not go back to do more business with the company that initially satisfied them. Often, it’s due to a lack of connection. Consumers today demand instant relevance and gratification, and a demonstration of how you can add real value in a credible and authentic manner.

Singapore is the only country in SEA that shops more after working hours. Singaporeans continue to shop the most until 2 am, placing the highest amount of orders at 10 pm. Engaging with your customers quickly is important, but it doesn’t mean that you have to stay awake until 5 am responding to all the purchase orders. Ensure that you are responding in a timely manner (within 24 hours works), and have an automatic response in place to acknowledge receipt during non-working hours. For example, a simple automated thank you message addressed to the individual customer, after every purchase with a request for feedback can make people feel more valued, as opposed to just another customer.

4. Managing customer data
Vast amounts of personal data are collected every day, regardless if the consumer is conscious of it. Managing customer data comes with responsibilities such as adhering to privacy regulations and security concerns, especially when dealing with credit card and payment information.

Be sure that your business complies with local laws, and allow your customers the ability to manage their correspondences. For instance, they may opt out of receiving event invitations or being contacted by third-party for surveys. Doing this not only shows you care about your customer, but also gives you indispensable information as to what your customer base cares about. At the same time, help ensure that your site is secured (it starts with HTTPS!) to help protect your customers’ data during transmission, especially when dealing with monetary transactions.

5. It’s not personal, it’s just business
Customer feedback is not usually personally about the sales or customer representative, but rather it is about a business issue that the customer needs resolved.

According to the Amex 2017 Global Customer Service Barometer, Singaporeans are among the most demanding consumers in the world when it comes to customer service. For two-thirds of Singaporeans, two or more bad experiences with a company will cause them to take their businesses elsewhere, while a third said they would switch companies after just one negative experience.

No matter how they choose to reach out for customer care, the level of service you provide in return can determine whether or not those customers come back. When customers “trigger” you, take some time to cool off before you create customer responses. Avoid raising your voice to match their anger, speak softly and slowly, but also remain firm and alert. Doing this shows that you have listened to their issue and have the situation under control, which can help as you are dealing with more challenging customers.

60 per cent of customers who have had a bad experience aren’t telling the brand concerned, but they are telling everyone else. Keep your eyes peeled on social media to listen to what consumers are saying about your brand – thank them for the positive feedback, and act on the negative complaint in a courteous manner. Through relatable yet professional engagements, you can encourage customer loyalty and repeat business. Remember, don’t take it personally, it’s purely business.

Roger Chen

Roger Chen is the Vice President for Asia at GoDaddy.