Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
We hear it all the time: Businesses are more digital than ever before, and this continues to affect almost every aspect of how things are run within a company. But even in a “post”-Covid-19 world, what is something we will (hopefully) never replace with digital? Human interaction.
Connecting with others remains crucial to pretty much any successful relationship, business or otherwise. Strong customer relationships are the crux of just about every business out there — that one-on-one relationship helps them to know what their customer needs and anticipate problems before they arise. It’s one of the only things that really separates a company from its competitors, especially as new ones seem to pop up every day.
So what techniques do businesses need to be implementing so that they continue to foster personalized relationships in the midst of all things digital? Here are three questions every business owner should be asking themselves.
Question #1: Do we have a single, comprehensive view of our customer data, interactions and information that is shared across the entire company?
To begin, you need to assess where your company is at when it comes to having a single view of the customer and their journey with your organization. All internal teams that ladder into each customer relationship should have information that is in real-time. You need to not only know which products they are using but also any problems they’ve had, what their ultimate goals are for their organizations and their communication preferences — anything and everything. Further, once you have all of that information available to you, everyone needs to access it; your sales, marketing, customer support and operations folks all need access to the same set of data.
Recently, we surveyed 500 B2B sales, marketing, customer success and operations professionals from mid-market organizations to find out how teams are leveraging CRM for a better customer experience. When asked what their strategic priorities were for the year ahead, only 17% cited aligned departments as a top priority, yet 55% cited improving the customer experience.
What many don’t realize is you simply cannot have one without the other. Real-time feedback and aligning your business’s data and departments have a direct effect on customer experience and of those surveyed, the businesses that reported the best customer service were 2.5 times more likely to report significant revenue growth. Simply put, a focus on customer experience makes a huge difference.
Question #2: How can we go deeper with our personalization tactics?
Once you’ve got your data from real-time feedback that has been shared across all internal departments, you’re ready to get personal. And in case you’re not caught up, personalization in sales and marketing today has gone way beyond using a customer’s first name in an email campaign.
Personalized interactions and service will allow for those exceptional one-on-one relationships mentioned above. How can you possibly serve your customers with exceptional service if you are not addressing their very individualized wants and needs? You need to know what their pain points are, what their successes are and what they need most in order to make things happen.
In short, do your research, then craft your personalized outreach. Note: There is no shortcut here. The calories you burn doing research or merging data will result in better outcomes.
Further, personalization can help mitigate any tone-deaf missteps in communication. If a customer is having an issue with something, the last thing you want is your marketing team sending them an email with an offer or an upsell. Plus, you should always be procuring and incorporating as much direct customer feedback as you can — field surveys, post questions and polls on social media and ask direct questions. One tactic is to have your customer service team host quarterly business reviews with customers. A 30-minute meeting once per quarter can mitigate issues before they snowball, while also looking for upsell opportunities. Once you get the answers, as mentioned earlier, that data should get shared across internal departments so your employees can continue making personal interactions.
Question #3: Are we taking every opportunity to have a human touch?
When we do have a chance to share our human sides, we should excel at it.
Virtual backgrounds were all the rage early on in video conferencing because they presented a neat, homogenized view of every caller. Guess what? That’s boring, and it could be a missed opportunity for a better, deeper connection. Let your clients see your real background. Is that a guitar? A piece of art you admire? A plant that you are tending to or a book you’re reading?
How can we use these cues to start real conversations and connect as humans? While there were likely some exceptions early on in the pandemic when people rushed home to haphazard and makeshift workspaces, today’s remote worker will likely have a space that reflects his/her personality and can add value to an interaction.
Another place to be more human is LinkedIn. If I’m going to do business with you and I visit your LinkedIn profile, what will I see? A laundry list of your qualifications is good, but I’d love a short story as to why you chose this field, what successes you have had and where your passion lies. Don’t miss out on these chances to inject humanity into the digital world.
By implementing these tactics within your organization, you will be better poised to foster successful customer relationships as things continue to move more and more towards digital, because let’s not forget what’s most important: human interaction.