Good Customer Care Builds LoyaltyBy Bob Violino Print
Businesses have a huge opportunity to improve customer relationships, but failing to take a strategic approach to CRM can result in lost revenue and market share.
By Bob Violino
The way customers interact with companies is changing dramatically, largely because of the rapid emergence of social media and mobile devices. At the same time, consumers—thanks in part to the Internet—have become much more discerning and knowledgeable about service quality and market alternatives.
Companies that ignore these trends do so at their own peril. Businesses have a huge opportunity to improve customer relationships—whether it’s through consumer-driven technology, cloud services and data analytics or via new business processes that emphasize enhancing the total customer experience. By failing to take a strategic approach to building stronger customer relationships, companies can risk losing out to competitors that do.
Industry research shows that customers are more discerning about the services they receive and are open to dumping one provider for another when they feel they’re not getting good service. Of the 10,000 consumers in 27 countries surveyed online in 2011 by consulting firm Accenture, 66 percent switched companies as a result of poor customer service.
Accenture’s Global Consumer Survey, released in January 2012, shows that the proportion of consumers who switched companies for any reason between 2010 and 2011 rose in eight of the 10 industries covered in the survey. The report also found that just 23 percent of the consumers surveyed feel “very loyal” to their providers, while 24 percent said they had no loyalty at all.
In the face of these challenges, companies need to find ways to more effectively engage their customers. Social media can be a prime mechanism for improving customer relationships, and gives customers additional ways of getting in touch with companies.
are much more empowered by today's social Web, says Lorrie Thomas Ross, CEO of
Web Marketing Therapy, who develops marketing relationships via the Web. “They
read reviews and are influenced by their peers,” she says.
sites are playing an increasing role in consumers’ purchase decisions, adds
Robert Wollan, global managing director, customer relationship management at
Accenture. “A growing number of consumers—and not only younger ones—are posting
comments about products and services, trusting the comments posted by others,
and reporting that such comments are influencing their purchase decisions,” he
says. “The consumers’ cravings for personal interaction and engagement with
providers are growing, and are becoming a significant factor in their choice of
and spending with a provider.”
company Best Western International in Phoenix is rolling out a social media feedback
program to its more than 4,000 global locations. The program will enable hotel
operators to manage customer relationships via TripAdvisor, Twitter, Yelp and
other popular social sites.
understands that public responses on sites such as these affect bookings and
increasingly have a bigger impact on the bottom line, says Michael Morton, vice
president of member services at Best Western.
has been using an application from Medallia that allows it to get feedback from
guest surveys. Over the past year-and-a-half, it has been eyeing the
possibility of using data from travel review sites such as TripAdvisor and
other social sites to help improve service and draw new business. But since
many Best Western properties are smaller hotels that don’t have the resources
to analyze online travel and social media sites such as Facebook, the company
needed a way to gather such data in a central location that could be accessed
by hotel operators.
looked at several technologies that could aggregate such data, but when
Medallia agreed to develop a cloud-based application for this purpose, Best
Western decided that staying with a familiar vendor made sense.
year, Medallia had the software as a service
(SaaS) app ready, and in January 2012, Best Western began rolling it out to
hotels. Managers can now analyze customers’ reviews and reply to them when
appropriate. It will soon have the ability to compare their own hotel’s
performance with that of competitors.
“If we’re able to get their response, respond appropriately and show that
[we can] react sooner and address their concerns, it helps us from a customer
care perspective,” Morton says.
to giving hotels a direct and immediate feedback mechanism, the social media
program gives Best Western’s marketing team a tool for tracking customer
trends, which can help it shape marketing campaigns. The team can use positive
feedback from customers as part of its marketing efforts, Morton explains.
Best Western is looking into making the application available on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, so hotel managers can access the program from virtually any location.
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