$41 billion per year. That is how much U.S. companies are losing due to poor customer service.
According to the 2015 Global State of Multichannel Customer Service Report, 97 percent of global customers surveyed report that “customer service is somewhat or very important in their choice or loyalty to a brand.” Unfortunately, 62 percent in the same group said they have “stopped doing business with a brand due to poor customer service.”
Some entrepreneurs may think that they can always get new customers, especially if they have built an online presence. But according to the authors of Marketing Metrics: The Definitive Guide to Measuring Marketing Performance, the probability of selling to an existing satisfied customer is up to 14 times higher than the probability of selling a product or service to a new customer.
Organizations or businesses that have provided good customer service to their clients, on the other hand, should not simply maintain their efforts. Almost 60 percent of consumers surveyed stated that they have higher expectations for customer service now, compared to the previous year.
These statistics prove that customer service plays an important role in the success of a business. But how can companies ensure that they truly provide excellent service to their customers which will result in increased loyalty? How can businesses better address concerns of existing customers?
These days, it would be a good decision to get customers actively involved. Getting customers to talk positively about services or products is the best way to increase sales. According to Moz, 67.7 percent of consumers are influenced by online reviews. So, why not partner with customers to improve your product or service?
What every business needs today are customer champions.
What is a customer champion?
A customer champion is more than just a conduit between customers and a business. This individual, sometimes known as a consumer champion, is part of a team and he or she can represent customers and their experience in discussions within the company. They’re a customer service winner, who is focused on putting the customer’s needs first and is vested in improving the customer experience at every phase.
Customer champions and customer champion programs have been around for some time. Some examples of companies that have developed these programs are Marketo that launched its program in 2011 and Brainshark that launched its program in 2012. I’ll go into more detail on this later on.
Recently, other organizations have renewed their interest in these programs.
Business owners have realized that to ensure they are able to provide support for customers, they have to create a team of people who will not only speak for the customer but will be able to work across the organization. By doing this, the business will be able to listen to and act upon any concerns that the customer may have.
In effect, both customers and employees are champions. Customers invest money in choosing to do business with a company. Employees, on the other hand, know and believe that their success is linked to the success of the company. When both groups work together, they experience mutual success.
9 characteristics of a great customer champion
1. They’re an excellent communicator to customers, as well as individuals within the company
An effective communicator can help identify potential problems in an organization and helps management to implement the best solutions. They can also empathize with customers and help address their concerns.
A customer champion makes sure that the organization and employees understand customer feedback and what should be done to improve customer experience. As for the customers who provide feedback, they can expect more effective solutions to their concerns which lead to improved customer experience and ultimately increased customer loyalty.
2. They’re a creative, innovative problem solver
A customer champion is a creative problem solver. Creative problem solving involves more than just brainstorming; it’s a distinct process that helps you with identifying the problem up to the implementation of solutions.
A customer champion ensures that the team remains motivated and understands that no problem is too difficult to solve. Since they’re a creative problem solver, the probability that your company will develop an effective solution to improving customer experience is higher, and it follows that customer loyalty will increase.
3. They pay attention to detail
A customer champion is always accurate in carrying out tasks. They are able to address all issues the first time, allowing no room for error when dealing with customer concerns.
A customer champion will be able to identify even the smallest problem and will make sure that the necessary corrective actions will result to delivering what the customer wants. Since they pay attention to detail, the customer does not have to keep repeating concerns several times.
4. They motivate co-workers and customers
A customer champion is a motivator. Motivation is necessary to keep employees and customers satisfied.
An effective customer champion supports your team to deliver, particularly if there is a lack of rapid results. Similarly, customers are encouraged and expect that there will be improvements to their concerns and such improvements will be delivered quickly.
5. They have strong organizational and interpretation skills
A customer champion is organized and has excellent time management skills, and can balance different duties and responsibilities.
A customer champion can facilitate working across the organization and is able to provide effective solutions to problems, and is focused on the customer journey instead of the internal functions of the organization. This leads to faster resolution of customer concerns.
6. They understand and develop processes on the job
A customer champion is able to develop processes from customer data collected to process metrics and KPIs. This enables effective management of the business.
Since a customer champion aligns KPIs with customer needs, this leads to a better partnership between the business and its customers.
7. They’re both a team player and a leader
A good customer champion is able to work effectively as an individual and as part of a team. They can handle office relations with ease and professionalism and provide excellent customer service at the same time. They make sure other members of the team are clear with their roles and that each member has an effective and rewarding role in the business.
Along with their teammates, a customer champion is able to deliver results and improvements at a faster pace.
8. They’re a good negotiator
A customer champion is a good negotiator. They are persuasive and make sure that customers will have repeat business with the company. A great customer champion does not have to resort to hard-selling and is able to share advocacies without pushing anything on customers. They are able to end conversations with customers in a way that makes them feel that everything has been taken care of.
9. They’re adaptable and willing to learn
A customer champion is not fazed by any type of situation, able to adapt, and is constantly willing to learn new processes. They want to continue improving procedures in the company to ensure improved customer experience.
Since a customer champion strives to consistently raise the standard of customer service which results in better customer experience, customer loyalty is also increased.
What are the benefits of using customer champions?
Your organization gains a team of well-versed and motivated advocates
Your customer champions speak with credibility because they know the benefits of your products or services inside and out. They are able to provide information to anyone who may want to inquire about or purchase your product or service.
Your business has ready references
Your customer champions are willing sales references that you can use when you are trying to close a deal. They are also more likely to lead to new business referrals compared to other customers.
They can provide first-hand testimonials
Positive word of mouth testimonials from customers who have used your products and services are a great way to increase your sales.
A wider reach for sharing content
You can share your site’s content to more consumers via your customer champions’ social networks.
Enhanced product development
Your customer champions can also help you gain feedback and insights through quick surveys, product beta programs, and focus groups. They can help you greatly in improving your product or service.
Examples of successful customer champion programs
Most organizations want to be focused on providing excellent customer service. But based on statistics cited at the beginning of the article, some businesses are still lacking in this area.
Customer champions can help your business by gathering the customers’ feedback and showing these customers that the company will go to great lengths to use the data to improve customer satisfaction and increase customer loyalty.
One example of a company that has been successful in using customer champions is Brainshark. Brainshark is a “sales enablement company” whose goal is to help “businesses harness the power of content to drive sales productivity.”
According to Joan Babinski, Solution Director (then, VP of Corporate Marketing) of Brainshark, the organization had a strong group of customers and employees who loved the company. Babinski and her team reminded them to spread the word on social media.
To be able to do this, they developed the Brainshark Champions program. The program makes use of gamification and badges as a way to reward participants for their efforts.
The Brainshark Champions program also provides exclusive training and other opportunities to employees and customers to learn more about the company’s products.
As a result, the program increased Brainshark’s social media presence by 106 percent. This, in turn, made them win the 2013 Forrester Groundswell Award in the B2B Social Depth category.
The importance of a customer-oriented culture
Lots of businesses want to be customer-focused because entrepreneurs know the importance of having this kind of culture to their bottom line. But the reality is, few have truly succeeded in creating a customer-oriented culture.
Organizations need to make extra effort to achieve this. Creating a customer champion program that focuses on listening to and acting upon the customers’ concerns as well as communicating back with them will help businesses receive the best customer feedback.
Customer satisfaction will increase when a business improves its product using data provided by its customers. Ultimately, customer loyalty will increase when patrons see that their input is valued. This proves that the company is genuinely interested in customer experience.
As customer loyalty increases, repeat business will take place along with referrals to current customers’ family and friends. The end result for the business will be increased sales, leading to increased profits.