You may not be able to control what your customers say about you, but you can certainly influence it.

October 18, 2019 5 min read

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Every time someone from your company speaks with a customer, that customer receives an experience that falls somewhere between “exceptional” and “exceptionally awful.” Get it right, and customers will talk to their friends about you. Get it wrong, and they’ll talk even louder.

Findings from Temkin Group discovered that consumers talk about both great and horrible customer experiences — but in every situation, they spread the bad more than the good. Even when customers stay silent, they’re more likely to keep a “very good” (34 percent) customer experience to themselves than a “very bad” one (27 percent).

You may not be able to control what your customers say about you, but you can certainly influence it. The key? Authentic customer interactions. Follow these tips to turn every customer engagement into an authentic conversation.

1. Use informal language.

What many entrepreneurs consider professionalism comes off to consumers as blandness or stiffness. Consumers want to be spoken to like people, not wallets lined up at a window.

Related: How Brand Personality Shapes Customer Experience and Decides the Bottom Line

Digital marketing provider SEMRush suggests relaxing even the smallest snippets of content. Instead of encouraging email-list sign-ups with phrases like, “Share your email address for the latest news,” try, “Get your head in the huddle” or even, “Want the latest deets?” Rather than request customers “Leave a product review,” consider a comment box on each product page that says, “Tell us the truth” or, “What did you think?”

2. Personalize interactions to cut through the clutter.

Customers are exposed to between 4,000 and 10,000 marketing messages per day. Before blasting out that marketing email, ask yourself: What makes mine worth reading? What’s going to catch the customer’s eye? Enriching content with personalized details not only drives customer acquisition, but it also boosts loyalty with current customers. Kevin Erickson, partner at management- and technology-consulting firm Credera, suggests personalizing interactions using relevant data with the customer’s name, length of service and latest purchase. Lean on information that’s already been collected to maximize your investment and increase the ease of interaction.

3. Take the burden of action off the customer.

When customers call in with an issue, it’s typically after they’ve tried to solve it themselves. The last thing they want to be told is that they have more work to do. Make the process less frustrating by putting the burden of correction back on the company.

Often, this is a matter of phrasing. SuperOffice CRM’s guide to authentic service recommends language that shows positivity and proactivity. By saying things like, “If you can send us X, we can complete the process for you,” you can help customers see that your brand is willing to do the work to make them happy. SuperOffice’s guide includes suggestions to communicate empathy, patience and friendliness, all of which create a more authentic customer experience.

4. Minimize the fine print.

Whether they do business by phone or online, companies in spaces like real estate and health insurance have to deliver a long list of disclosures. Although you shouldn’t break the law, do realize that customers see legalese as inauthentic at best and “gotcha” opportunities at worst.

First, ask an attorney what text truly needs to be there. Online, present information on a page that’s one or two steps down the path to purchase. It shouldn’t be the last thing a customer sees, but it also shouldn’t show up below the “Buy Now” button. By phone, encourage reps to read at a “Goldilocks” pace that’s clear but not rushed. In both cases, explain the “why.” You’re legally required to provide disclaimers; you’re not trying to pull a fast one.

5. Connect customers to one another.

There’s no better salesperson than a satisfied customer. Give customers a sense of authentic connection by helping them engage with one another, turning your brand into a conversational conduit instead of a focus piece. Fortunately, social media makes this simple. Surkus helps brands and event organizers turn attendees into influencers, boosting authenticity through featured engagement and spreading those good feelings through organic social reach. After all, one person’s positive experience encourages others to believe they, too, could have a great experience.

Related: 12 Passive-Aggressive Phrases That Can Destroy Your Business

Today’s consumers are more diverse than ever, and everyone cares about different things. Rather than try to appeal to everyone at once, make it easy on your brand by being authentic. Some people might not like what your brand embodies, but those who do will become your most valuable customers.

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