10 Ways to Build Customer Loyalty and Trust

Author: 
Michael Nørregaard

When prospects are evaluating your company, they’re looking to ultimately maximize their return on investment. They want minimal downtime, support they can rely on and access to as much training as possible, so they can be in turn, as successful as possible with their deployment.

While that may seem like an obvious statement, it’s easier than you think to overlook these important items. You can have the best and most user-friendly offering on the market. But if you’re not doing as much as you can to create a customer-first culture -- one where you are passionate about your product and your customer’s needs -- you’re missing a valuable opportunity to not only set your customers up for the most success but also to ensure that they stay with you for life.

Besides the obvious benefits of high customer retention – you’ll generate more revenue and it’s more cost effective to keep a customer than find a new one – possibly the most important result of a stellar support program is the loyalty and trust you’ll build with your customers.

To get started, examine your customers’ journey within your organization -- every touchpoint they have in your company, every person they interact with. Create a holistic view and start to implement support where it’s needed. For instance, do you have a way to listen to your customers? Most companies are heads-down on product innovation or sales, and by not having a process in place for your customers to share feedback, you may be missing major red flags and losing existing customers.
 
Here are 10 ways you can offer the best support and create customer loyalty and trust:

1. Get them excited about using your product from the start. This is crucial. Ensure new customers are armed with the training they need to be successful. Creating videos is easier than ever these days. Most people would much rather watch a series of short training videos versus reading text. So hit record and tell your new clients what they need to know. They’ll appreciate the more personable approach and easily digestible videos. And don’t stop after their onboarding. Constantly be adding training videos to your library, and you’ll quickly have a robust place for your customers to reference whenever needed.

2. Listen, plain and simple. It really doesn’t get much easier than this. All you have to do is open your eyes and ears and understand what your customers need. Create a community that is their go-to place for tech support, product documentation and networking. The community could house all of those training videos. Allow them to ask questions about your product and share ideas and best practices. Plus, make sure all of your employees interact in the community, so they can answer questions in real time.  

3. Let your customers be part of your development track. One of the most popular features of our customer community is called Share an Idea. Customers can suggest a feature or changes they’d like to see in our technology, and other community members can vote on the ideas to help get them into our development process. This high-touch approach gives them a place to be heard and builds loyalty with our product. A side bonus: this collaboration in the community reduces the “ask” on your support teams.

4. Be transparent. Give them sneak peeks into your roadmap with webcasts. Customers LOVE it when you tell them the product they’ve been asking you for is in the works. Make sure they know what’s coming up by communicating with them in your customer community.

5. Tell their story and they’ll tell yours. Turning your customers into brand ambassadors is an outstanding opportunity to get your company and product name out there. Think about it this way: Yes, you’re asking them to spread the good word about you, but in the process you’re also giving them a lot of exposure. It’s a win-win. So work with your marketing departments to create compelling customer testimonials. Have customers speak about their experiences with your company at industry conferences, let them share their stories with analysts and ask them to write a guest post on your blog and do interviews with reporters (to name a few things). Make sure they’re entrenched in your company and you’ll create a deeper loyalty.  

6. Travel to them. It’s not enough to have a five-star support team based in your headquarters. You probably have customers all over the country or world. Your support should be, too. Provide support year-round on the road with a network of sales engineers. From supporting clients during deployment to keeping everything running effectively at their organizations, build a network of sales engineers that spans your customer base. They’ll appreciate you going that extra step to make sure they have everything they need to succeed.

7. Meet face-to-face regularly. Give your customers easy access to your team and the opportunity to meet in person by organizing regional user group meetings, summits and an annual user conference. The relationships and, if you’re lucky, friendships that form as a result of these events are priceless. If you aren’t able to host an event, look into local Meet-Ups or Ask Me Anything sessions on Facebook or Twitter.
 
8. Analytics are your friends. You wouldn’t make massive business decisions without doing a cost analysis. Your marketing team wouldn’t send emails and not look at the open rates. And your sales team wouldn’t call a prospect without first researching the person and company. Yes, those are obvious statements, but all that to say – Do your homework. You have a lot of metrics at your fingertips to measure customer satisfaction. Don’t ignore them. Monitor customer engagement on your community. Create your own customer support survey. On the flip side, this data will measure where customers fall off on their journeys and help you react. More importantly, the data can help you proactively prevent that from happening. It will show when customers’ usage drops, for example, and you’ll be able to help get them back on the right track before you lose them.

9. Delight customers at every turn by thinking about the small stuff. This might seem trivial in the grand scheme of things, however adding something simple to a package can go a long way. Maybe it’s a cool piece of swag (a sticker, a mug, a baseball cap or some fun socks) or a special offer. Top it off with a personalized note. You’d notice an effort like that from your vendors, right? Your customers will, too. And don’t forget about packaging. Wrap those little gifts in your brand colors.

10. Give them room to grow. We just built a new data center to accommodate massive growth in Europe. Think about taking big steps like this to show customers you’re doing everything you can to help them grow. Do you need to offer more features to help them do their jobs? Do you need to record more training videos about using your product or service? Do you need to plan more face-to-face site visits?

Creating a strong customer-first culture requires you to open your eyes and ears to new ideas, initiatives, products and services. It means doing everything you can to ensure your customers have what they need to succeed and reminding them with every action that you are passionate about helping them reach their goals.

Customer loyalty and trust is difficult to build but easy to lose. Make sure you’re doing everything possible to build deep relationships with your clients. Let them know every day that they come first. To your success.

Michael Nørregaard is senior vice president of customer experience and mediasite events at Sonic Foundry, the maker of Mediasite Video Platform.