Deloitte Identifies Best Practices for Connecting with Customers

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Companies’ most loyal customers use the same type of emotional language—words such as “love,” “happy,” and “adore”—for their favorite brands as they use for family, friends, and pets, according to research from Deloitte Digital.

With this in mind, Deloitte offers a number of ways for companies to build such connections with customers.

The report asserts that if they want to have more meaningful relationships with customers, companies need to approach communication as a two-way street. “Most organizations talk to customers through marketing interactions but fall down when it comes to really listening to customers and interacting with them after the initial marketing promise. This two-way relationship is fast becoming an expectation that will cause customers to leave or switch brands if not addressed,” says Timothy Greulich, experience management practice leader at Deloitte Digital.

But that is not the only customer expectation at play. Seventy-five percent of customers expect companies to know their purchase histories and to draw on that knowledge to contextualize and personalize interactions, and 57 percent expect the same of their service histories, according to the research.

The report also warns that it takes time for relationships to reach that emotional level, based on findings that 76 percent of people who consider themselves loyal to particular brands have used their products for more than four years.

The report also cautions companies on the fine line between being responsive and invasive. Thirty-five percent of consumers do not want their favorite companies to know their browsing histories, which many companies use to serve relevant ads or to provide chatbot help. Additionally, 59 percent of consumers do not want companies to respond when they post positively on social media, yet 54 percent expect a response in three days or fewer following a negative post. “Customers had a clear perspective on when they want you to respond to feedback,” Gruelich says.

At the same time, though, companies that fail to respond to negative posts within three days “risk being seen as unresponsive, and, therefore, break the trust that has been established,” he adds.

The report also highlights customer service as an essential component of building relationships with customers; a statement confirmed by 70 percent of consumers who identified “reliable, great customer service” as a key contributor to loyalty.

And it helps if that service comes from a live person, with 72 percent of consumers preferring help from live customer service agents or store associates as opposed to automated service options.

“Customer service is extremely important in keeping the brand promise when an issue arises. Just like with any relationship, there are going to be bumps in the road, and customer service is the first line of defense in recognizing the customer’s issue and resolving it. If organizations can do this in an efficient and easy way, it creates positive, rational experiences,” Greulich says.

“Like any relationship, what we found in the study is that the basis of a relationship with a brand is selling customers on the rational need for a product or service and continuing to meet the brand promise over time. Meeting these rational needs forms the basis of trust that allows organizations to create emotional, long-term relationships,” Gruelich continues. “Organizations that can solve issues in a quick and easy manner that is contextual to the customer relationships with the brand differentiate themselves among competitors.” 

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