As most of the world is seeing light at the end of this long dark pandemic tunnel, the businesses that survived it want to know one thing: how bright is that light? Will post-pandemic times be fueled by an economic boom?
The answer to that depends on who you ask. The prognosticators do not all agree. There are two certainties: 1) there is a tremendous amount of pent-up demand for what people have missed out on the last 15 months, and 2) customers, consumers, clients, guests, patients, tenants, employees, co-workers, or whatever you call your customers, are now pickier than ever with which companies they do business with.
While the effects of the pandemic have been long-lasting, many consumers are getting excited about the opportunities for social interaction. However, not everyone will be jumping back into the social rebirthing immediately; there probably will be some trepidation as people adjust to their newly restored freedom.
“Social skills are like a muscle,” says Richard Slatcher, a professor of psychology at the University of Georgia who studies the effects of relationships on health and well-being. “If we are out of practice, it will take a while to get back on the social bike, if you will, and ride it again. It has now become second nature to keep your guard up. We’re habituated to this new normal, so it will take a while to return to the old normal.”
According to Fox Business Network’s Charles Payne, there’s reason to be extremely optimistic. Over the last 12 months, consumer savings are near record highs. That, combined with government stimulus money for both businesses and consumers, means that there is a lot of money and the ability to spend it as consumer confidence picks up. The question is which companies will capitalize on the economic spike? Brands that consistently deliver superior customer experiences and a high level of employee engagement.
For many, it’s been a year they lost out of their life. Everyone feels cheated. Many experts are predicting revenge spending which could potentially lead to incredible growth over the next decade, hence history repeating itself like the roaring ‘20s.
Revenge spending is a key reason to expect economic growth in the foreseeable future. Some are predicting a resurgence of social events, such as concerts, sporting events, travel, reunions, parties, business conferences, and conventions. Payne predicts that customers will want to make up for lost time, which will be great for the economy.
Although there has been tremendous job loss and countless business fatalities, companies that are obsessed with the customer and employee experience are exploding. It is critical that leaders invest in building experiential consistency at every touchpoint in the customer journey, by ensuring customer service training be provided continuously to all existing, new, and future employees. Excellent customer service companies understand that customer loyalty is won and lost with your customer-facing team members.
According to Hubspot, 75 percent of customers “don’t accept advertisements as truth,” yet 90 percent of customers “believe brand recommendations from friends.”
Excellent customer service companies intentionally allocate their advertising and marketing budget towards their customer experience strategy. Why? Because they know customer expectations and customer satisfaction are not the same for potential customers versus retained customers.
Boosting your customer retention rate by as little as 5% can increase your profits anywhere from 25% to 95%. New customer acquisition is extremely expensive compared to retaining current customers—5 to 25 times more expensive. Loyal customers bring in more revenue, are less likely to price shop you, refer more, and are more forgiving than a new customer when things go wrong. The bottom line is the more you invest in customer service skills, the more happy customers you will have.
Make it Personal
Organizations must not let relationships (customers and employees) become mere transactions. Customers will stay loyal to the brands that help make them feel alive. The most successful companies in the world are not characterized by the best products in the world, but by redefining our expectations. Let’s face it, most products and services today are of similar quality. Excellent customer service is about delivering a personal touch throughout your entire customer journey.
Being able to build true sustainable relationships is the biggest competitive advantage in a world where automation, artificial intelligence, and machine learning are eliminating millions of jobs and disrupting entire industries, businesses, and careers. In the digital revolution, human interaction, compassion, empathy, and communication skills become a premium advantage.
With the increase in the digitization and automation of customer interactions, your employees must be focusing on building relationships with customers. The most memorable customer experiences are the ones where an emotional connection was made, where both customer and employee felt something.
John R. DiJulius III, author of The Customer Service Revolution, is president of The DiJulius Group, a customer service consulting firm that works with companies including Starbucks, Chick-fil-A, Ritz-Carlton, Nestle, PwC, Lexus, and many more. Contact him at 216-839-1430 or firstname.lastname@example.org.