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May 24, 2017 bjohnson

Building Trust to Generate Referrals

Customer Retention Research Conclusions

“Your call is important to us. Please continue to hold.” We have all heard this at one time or another. According to customer retention research, this automated message is listed as one of the most cringe-worthy phrases that customers don’t want to hear.

Frustrated and annoyed by spending valuable time waiting on the phone for assistance, customers will often hang up. And customer retention research has revealed that on average, Americans are nearly twice as likely to share poor experiences than good ones. With the popularity of social sharing making word-of-mouth more powerful than ever, your company could inherit a handful of negative reviews— resulting in a loss of customer satisfaction and eventually loyalty, due to subpar engagement.

“The value of any one customer does not reside only in what that person buys. In these interconnected days, how your customers feel about you and what they are prepared to tell others about you can influence your revenues and profits just as much.”
– Fred Reichheld, Bain Consultant

Building Customer Loyalty & Trust

Poor phone experiences that waste time and leave customers in the dark usually don’t lead to successful customer journeys. In the age of the customer, quality customer service is expected. Being consistent in your company’s efforts to keep your customers satisfied and loyal starts with building a relationship to understand needs, and ultimately moving beyond the basics. Customer retention research shows that delivering high-quality customer service, i.e. positive and authentic engagement, is the number one factor in securing customer loyalty. When your customers are consistently satisfied, they are more likely to become loyal.

Earning and keeping loyal customers is an ongoing effort, but next-level customer success stories happen when you exceed your customers’ expectations, generating word-of-mouth referrals with likeminded customers who often have higher retention rates. By offering beyond-basic solutions based on continuous listening, your customers’ journeys will go from satisfied to delighted. And, loyal customers are more likely to remain loyal when they’re delighted! Customer-generated referrals often happen organically as consumers are actively seeking out first-hand word-of-mouth recommendations. Aiming to provide referral-worthy services and products has a positive chain reaction: it builds confidence in the value your company delivers and gives your customers delightful experiences to talk about!

“92% of consumers trust recommendations from other people—even if they don’t know them personally—over promotional content that comes directly from brands.”
– Nielsen

The Key to Customer Referrals

So, how can your company elevate your products and services to that next level—“delight” customers who generate referrals? One may think that delighting them with rewards, discounts and other perks turns an average customer into your best marketing advocate but that is often not the case. And offering referral bonuses won’t necessarily retain them, nor will it automatically create a loyal customer out of their referral. Here is a positive chain reaction that you can keep in mind when paving the way toward delighted customer referrals:

customer retention research graphic

“The way to create advocates is to offer superior customer service.”
– Gary Vaynerchuk, The Thank You Economy

On your path to earning customer success stories, building trust is a key component in elevating your customer relationship to next-level customer delight. While top-notch customer service may retain customers, taking action to build trust can achieve more than just retention; you can also expect to generate positive word-of-mouth referrals.

Safeguarding Customer Data

But gaining customer trust is not always easy, it often requires that the company really get to know the customer by honing in on everything from their likes and dislikes, to what interests and frustrates them, to the time of day that they prefer to interact with your brand. Most companies gain these insights through customer data which is then used to develop personalized content, experiences, campaigns, etc. However, with the evolving trend of customer personalization, companies are collecting more personal data than ever – some of which is considered personally identifiable information (PII) – creating a cloud of doubt over the safety of that data. Although this evolving trend offers unique customer experiences, the data your company collects can become a liability. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) in this year alone to date, 10,159,214 reported personal data records have been exposed in the U.S. Unfortunately, no industry is immune to data breaches. Last year’s top industries targeted by hackers were: healthcare, manufacturing, financial services, government, retail, and transportation.

Unforeseen data breaches leave your customers feeling vulnerable and fearful, and can be very confusing. 70% of consumers say they would avoid doing further business with a company where they were victims of a data breach and 19% actually committed to avoiding business. Although this statistic leaves a lot for pondering, gaining your customers’ trust with their data could remedy mixed emotions and a potential mass exodus of frustrated customers.

Some companies attempt to balance this sensitive issue by publishing privacy policies that reassure customers that their data won’t be sold to a third party or re-actively offering identity protection services to customers only after a data breach occurs. But hardly any proactively communicate to their customers what would happen if data is stolen. Addressing this in your company’s privacy policy (note: privacy policy and data sharing laws vary globally, and US companies are not required by law to have one)and offering robust identity protection services before a breach occurs can set your company apart from the rest, exceeding expectations. This is an opportunity to delight your customer and foster trust, reassuring and communicating to your customers that their privacy is one of your company’s top priorities. By remaining transparent in how customers’ records are being used and how you are protecting their identity and data before a breach even occurs, you move away from communicating fear—offering peace of mind and freedom from worry that identity theft will turn into a fraud nightmare. When customer records and credit cards are compromised, identity and data protection services can mitigate a hacker’s attempt at fraud. And when your customers are better protected, this will create a sense of delight that inspires confidence in doing business with your company—which can have a powerful word-of-mouth referral effect.

 “83% of data breach victims in 2014 said that the breaches compromised the security of their identity, and 85% said it was important to take all recommended steps to protect themselves after the breach.”

Generali Global Assistance has decades of experience protecting millions of identities and has earned the trust of leading Fortune 500 companies. Our commitment to successful partnerships has resulted in a business client base that is loyal and referenceable. Identity and data protection services are an important component to our partners’ overall customer privacy and security plans, and we continue to invest in and exceed at providing superior customer service that fuels our partners’ customer loyalty and growth.

If you’re ready to provide your customers a peace of mind experience that continuously reminds them of your brand’s value, request a demo of our people-first identity and data protection product and services.

Published by bjohnson May 24, 2017