In the new paradigm of consumer research, customer service is just part of a larger continuum of customer experience. Where customer service was once devoted to fixing problems, customer care seeks to enhance the total experience of the customer, attempting to create a long-term, loyal relationship. Modern theory and tools are emerging to help marketers achieve these goals.
Relationship Marketing Theory
This model proposes that the central goal of marketing is to create lasting relationships between the consumer and the business. Theory holds that a positive relationship with a customer will lead to loyalty and a loyal customer will purchase your service or product. This relationship will last in perpetuity, as long as the customer is still happy, and will yield consistent revenue over the years. Relational transactions are characterized as having reduced risk, enhanced cooperation, higher trust and greater flexibility.
This is a shift from the old system of customer service with a consumer starting unhappy and the representative trying to appease within the strict parameters of the company. The new customer care model changes focus from problem solving to relationship building so that, even if the consumers are not fully satisfied, they are still positively engaged in the relationship.
Customer care has become more of a dialogue, which has led to the emergence of omnichannel marketing. Every company has a central marketing message.
Snickers candy bars tell the audience that they are not themselves when they are hungry so they should eat a Snickers. Under omnichannel marketing, Snickers’ message moves web-like throughout all of its marketing channels. The phrase from the commercial becomes iconic as people use it in ways that are not part of the direct advertising route. Consumers use the same phrases with friends when they get hungry. Variety shows use it as part of comedy skits. This improves the customer experience in a way that simple customer service did not. Where customer service was a dialogue, customer experience is a conversation.
Email, text and social media have created new platforms for discussion. Systems like Hootsuite allow marketers to push out messages via Twitter and Facebook automatically. These messages are no longer the final product of the advertising, but instead become a jumping off point for larger conversations.
Because omnichannel marketing and its associate consumer experience is multidirectional, research is finding that social media initiated customer management is having an effect on firm-level capabilities. A system of positive consumer experiences will ultimately change the way the company does business, making the company customer-centered and not revenue-centered. Many organizations are finding that they need to utilize cloud-based customer care platforms like Aspect to handle the firm structure without incurring a large cost.
With all of these marketing messages moving in every direction, it is important to close the feedback loop with effective tracking. A simple coupon campaign can have several thousand entries and hundreds of thousands of interactions. A viral omnichannel consumer dialogue can have millions of interactions that your business may want to track. Systems like Buffer and NodeXL will allow your marketing team to mine data for customer experience indicators. Like active listening in a face-to-face conversation, use social media tracking to validate the consumer’s experience.