Make new friends, but keep the old; One is silver, and the other gold

Do you want to increase sales, drive growth, and expand into new markets? The way to sustainable, long-term growth is to ensure that your customers return. Repeatedly. While making new friends, as the childhood ditty above says, is important, the truly “golden” opportunities come from “old friends” – i.e. loyal customers who keep coming back.

Loyal customers are cheaper – according to studies, acquiring a new customer can cost you up to seven times more than retaining an existing customer. Loyal customers are more likely to buy: Marketing Metrics states that the likelihood of completing a sale to an existing customer is between 60 and 70 percent, whereas it is only 20 percent for a new customer. Repeat customers spend more – up to 33 percent more per order than a new customer. 

Perhaps most importantly over the long term is that loyal customers actively advocate for your brand. A recent PeopleMetrics report showed a 61 percent rate of engagement when new customers came to a company as the result of a recommendation, whereas that rate fell to only 47 percent without a recommendation.

Today’s customers feel empowered to switch brands and companies at any time. McKinsey & Company research shows that 70 percent of buying experiences are based on how the customers feel they are being treated. So, if customer loyalty is the goal, how can you go about nurturing and growing it? 

The key ingredient to creating customer loyalty is providing an excellent customer experience at every point in the relationship, from in-store experience to post-sales customer service. Beyond just delivering a consistent and pleasant experience, customers want you to be responsive to their behaviors and preferences and they expect you to go the extra mile in order to provide a service. 

Many companies focus on training salespeople and call center representatives to achieve these goals, but what about the online experience? Can you say the same for customer interactions that take place through your website or via social media? Are you truly being responsive, knowledgeable and service-oriented when it comes to queries from the order page or comments on Twitter?

This is where humanized AI comes into play. As visual interactions become increasingly prominent in our digital world (see this report from Call Centre Helper), using virtual agents with a face and hyper-realistic human behavior can help a brand connect with its customers. When relying on a purely written capability (such as chat bots) or voice-driven virtual assistants, even those based on conversational AI, you are missing a large range of emotional cues from your customers – cues that can provide very important data.

Visual interaction allows a company to demonstrate empathy, which is essential to gain the trust and loyalty of the customer, particularly over the long term. Such human-machine collaboration is possible today with the Digital People created by Soul Machines.

Powered by cutting-edge AI and CGI technologies, Digital People can hear, see, think, understand and respond with emotionally appropriate gestures. Despite their incredibly realistic appearance and behavior,  they are not intended to appear totally human;  rather, their purpose is to foster meaningful interactions. As a fully integrated part of the customer experience, they can augment the human workforce and even serve as brand ambassadors.

The happy path to customer loyalty delivered by Digitial People:

Customer service  – The very minimum requirement to earn the loyalty of customers is to deliver what they want and what they need where and when they are ready. Digital agents can fill multiple frontline roles to streamline your business – provide detailed product information, for example, or explain reward and referral programs; help customers open accounts or report stolen cards; or respond to routine questions. They will do this with efficiency, consistency and cognitive empathy.

Customer conversationsIf someone is smiling at you, it is human nature to smile back. In the digital world, sentiment analytics can extrapolate the feelings of the customers, but the real breakthrough is that Digital People will respond with visible emotional empathy, triggering a snowball effect, encouraging the customer to discuss more openly and ask more questions. This authentic exchange is also facilitated by the impartiality and non-judgemental attitude of the Digital Person. Learning the customer’s preferences, intends and interests allows to tailor his experience with the brand and make it memorable.

Customer feelings  – Through a simple and natural conversation that continues throughout the sales cycle, Digital People can elicit customer feedback, demonstrating that you value their opinion and want to build a long-term relationship with them. With empathy integrated in the communication, the data points collected by the CX department can include valuable insights on how the customers feel about your products, your customer experience, and your brand.

Customer values  –  Today consumers want to purchase products from companies that make a difference and share their societal and economic values such as diversity, inclusion, caring for employees, transparency, privacy, environmental protection, sustainability. Digital People are ideal ambassadors and media influencers to convey how a brand adheres to the values important to its audiences. They can demonstrate conviction and sincerity with their voice, face, and body language, increasing brand affinity and loyalty.

Conclusion

  • Do you want to go that extra mile to deliver an excellent customer experience online and delight your customers?
  • Would emotion-based customer data be useful to your future growth? 
  • Are you wanting to be perceived as being on the cutting edge of innovation? 

Digital People can help you to not only acquire the “silver” customers but also nurture and grow true customer loyalty.