Headed for a Customer Breakup?

Increasing brand loyalty and retaining customers is key to the health and longevity of any organization, and doing that well is a lot like being in a relationship; a thoughtless comment or lack of demonstrated appreciation and the whole thing can go south.

The vast majority of consumers will abandon companies after a bad experience, so it's crucial for companies to maintain healthy relationships with customers. Here are three bad customer relationship practices that will put you on the receiving end of a breakup, and how to avoid them.

1. It's not me, it's you: Technical difficulties

The wearable fitness tracker that won't sync, the website error page, the laptop that just isn't working. Problems are inevitable, but in solving customer issues companies can shine and strengthen relationships. Ask yourself how quickly your support team can accurately diagnose a customer's tech problem and solve it? >Through predictive tools or automatic software updates, can we solve a problem before a customer even needs to engage directly with us? Consumer patience grows shorter every day, so ensure your company has the staff and the technology to keep pace with consumer demands.

2. You just don't get me: Miscommunication

Ever feel like you and your customers are just not speaking the same language? Communication barriers between consumers and organizations creates distance or worse, hostility. If a customer has a problem but can’t speak geek or otherwise adequately explain it to tech support, will the problem be solved efficiently? Are support personnel well trained enough, with access to consumer insights, to ensure they are empathetic and helpful? Can they ask the right questions in a way that doesn't make the customer feel stupid?

Speaking the language of consumers is key to understanding their needs. This could mean better data analysis to dig into consumer behavior or coming to the rescue with advanced tools like video support or live chat. Find the most effective way to get to the heart of what your customers are trying to tell you, and then listen.

3. You're acting crazy: Inconsistent experience across channels

One second everything is cool, the next you're cursing at your phone. What just happened? In a consumer's world, there are more ways to search for, buy from, and engage with companies. Everything might be smooth sailing while a customer is on your website, but switch to mobile and it's like they don't even recognize you anymore. This lack of a consistent user experience is jarring, creating confusion and tension and increasing the rate of abandonment. Having a seamless, omnichannel experience is quickly becoming the equivalent of dinner and a movie. Yes, it can be classic and delightful, but ultimately unimaginative.

Consumer retention and growing share of wallet is the name of the game, and companies can succeed by investing in their customer experiences. Delight customers with both kind and effective support. Raise the bar with seamless digital experiences that add value, and marry efficiency to empathy to put the long-term commitment in your customer relationships.

Ross Haskell is senior director of BoldChat from LogMeIn.