Regardless of what products or services your business offers, chances are, there are a million other brands selling the same stuff by running similar promotion campaigns. So how do you go about setting yourself apart from competitors?

According to an article on ISPO, 90% of purchasing decisions are made subconsciously. This means nurturing deep customer relationships is critical in taking your revenue to the next level. At any given time, a happy or disgruntled customer will opt to share their experience with the masses. With the ubiquity of social media, failure to meaningfully connect with customers will turn people off faster than they can hit “unlike.”

Ever notice how some brands just have that “it” factor? Here are some things you can do to get that same reaction and turn business “likes” into “loves.”

Keep Your Image and Reputation Spotless

Ok, no reputation is without at least a smudge or two, especially in the age of the internet. But some are certainly cleaner than others. I like to think of reputation as glass – you might be able to wipe off stains, but once it is cracked, it can never be repaired.

Image result for public relations memes

Your brand image serves as the first impression to your audience. Make sure it is sharp, vibrant and brings good vibes to your business. For example, Apple has a profound reputation of creating the highest quality innovative products on the market – and that’s about it. This image has contributed to Apple having one of the most loyal customer bases in the world.

Make Customer Experience a Priority Process

A Walker report titled Customers 2020 found that 86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience. However, you can provide a better experience to your customers only if you turn it into a relentlessly improving, omnipresent business process.

If you want your customers to see value in your product or service, make sure it is obvious that their interaction with your brand at every touchpoint is a top priority. Bear in mind, you’re selling much more than just a product or service: you’re selling an experience, a journey from A to Z. In 2017 and beyond, this experience is built brick by brick, by

  • interacting with customers on multiple channels and platforms of their choice
  • enabling problem-solving with the use of technology, both hardware and software

Going forward, the importance of quality multi-channel service will only increase. Creating an awesome consumer experience is more than a one-man job and cannot be done overnight. It requires careful inter-departmental coordination.

Luckily, there are a lot of great tools out there to help with these types of complex processes – WorkZone is one of my personal favorites. It can help marketing, sales or customer care teams complete cross-project tasks and communicate across departments, with auto-generated, personalized to-do lists to help them stay focused on priorities.

To-Do List - WorkZone project management software

All the while, managers can see progress in percentage terms and provide appropriate real-time feedback.

Don’t forget that “tools” are now synonymous with “apps.” Smartphone use has skyrocketed over the past few years and customer expectations are doing the same. Flurry reports that Americans spend 90% of their mobile time in apps. This means making UX as simple and easy to navigate as possible in terms of browsing, seeking testimonies, buying options, and support.

Therefore, looking ahead, investing in mobile customer experience needs to be your top priority. The best example is Uber, which since its inception in 2009, has essentially re-written the act of taking a cab. This is due to its unique but simple customer experience. It solves a fairly common problem and turns it into a convenience. So much so that “the Uber of …” has become somewhat of a cliché.

Be Transparent and Trustworthy

One of the most difficult tasks in business is having to re-establish the trust of your customers. In Understanding Customers, Ruby Newell-Legner reveals that it takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one negative experience. You read that right: 12, 1.

Consistently keeping customers in the loop about changes to products, services, or policies is a great way to build trust. Generally speaking, customers do not like surprises in business, regardless of whether they are good or bad.

The value of honesty and transparency in today’s marketplace cannot be overlooked. It is critical to do everything you can to build and preserve a trustworthy relationship with your customer base. Patagonia, for instance, does a great job of with their “Footprint Chronicles” project. They’ve made detailed videos of their production that show the great lengths to which the company goes to ensure that no harm is being caused at any point to the environment or community.

Patagonia also encourages customer feedback on ways it can improve. At the end of the day, this type of good-natured transparency is what keeps the people coming back.

Invest Time and Efforts in Creating Engaging Content

Customers like to feel “connected” with the brands they interact with. One of the keys to getting the masses to view your brand as an elite is to produce content that leaves a lasting impression. This goes beyond just pushing your product or service.

And it is far, far easier said than done. A lot of good brands lose their edge simply because their content fails to connect with consumers. The process of creating loyal customers and brand advocates starts with the ability to speak their language. If your brand was a person, what would they be like? How would they act? What are their core values?

Most importantly, have a clear vision how the content you create will address customer’s priorities and challenges while creating awareness and deeper understanding of your product.

While there are tons of brands who’ve cracked the content code, one of my favorites is video conferencing and webinar service GoToMeeting. Their content strategy is closely aligned and crafted around the problem their product solves – meetings. GoToMeeting has a video series on YouTube called Meeting is Believing, which does a great job in capturing and showcasing the values they hold and the message they want to send to their customers.

Again, there are a lot of great tools out there to help in this process. Apester offers a lot of different options in terms of content format, including polls, quizzes and interactive video, to help shape your storytelling abilities and engage your audience on different levels.

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The name of the game is to humanize your content as much as possible.

Encourage and Act on Feedback

One of the biggest sins you can commit in business is failing to listen to customers. Two-way dialogue is one of the many great trends brought on by the digital age. Your customers are the heart and soul of your operation.

Another shining example here: NASCAR has made a significant comeback in recent years owing in no small part to its efforts to incorporate the fan-base into operations. Having given a reverberating voice to its community by establishing an Official Fan Council, NASCAR has truly become one of the most fan-centric sports brands on the market.

If you haven’t started listening to customers yet, it isn’t too late. There are tons of ways to gather consumer feedback:

  • Social Media
  • Email Marketing
  • Customer Service
  • Focus Groups
  • Forums and Communities
  • Reviews

The question is, what do you do after you receive feedback?

Showcase reviews.

No surprise here. Customer reviews are incredibly powerful: a recent survey found that the buying decisions of 9 out of 10 consumers were influenced by reviews.

Zendesk - has reading online reviews impacted your buying decision

Use good feedback to your advantage and showcase it on your digital properties to bolster your online reputation. Customers who’ve engaged with your brand can have a huge say in bringing more buyers on board.

Incorporate feedback into the big picture.

When it’s all said and done, customers are the true experts on your product or service, as they are the ones using it in their day-to-day lives. Make it a point that their feedback is a driving force in determining the future of product as well as your brand. Willingness to actively listen and act on customers’ ideas will not only boost your profits, it will also show that you truly care about them.

Reward customers.

Customer karma is a real thing. If a satisfied shopper took time out of their busy day to give you quality feedback, be sure to return the favor. Discounts and perks are a great way to say you value their insight.

As already stated, customers like to feel engaged with the brands they support and buy from. A simple “thank you” goes a long way!

The Last Word

The age of the customer is in full swing. There are innumerable brands out there competing for the same custom. How can you think outside the box to put yourself above the rest? Developing a strong customer service foundation is the answer to this crucial question. Consistently finding ways to create and increase the value you provide to them is a surefire way to gain the love of customers everywhere.