One of the foundations of a great business is great customer service, and great marketing should emphasize how much effort a company puts into making their customer happy. Certainly, the alternative of offering less than stellar service by being rude or indifferent should be avoided at all costs. But should companies look beyond basic customer satisfaction and routine ways to make customers happy, and focus on actually connecting with them emotionally? Marketing experts, including Krishen Iyer, say this can be a great strategy.
Krishen Iyer, CEO of MAIS Consulting and a longtime entrepreneur with an interest in marketing, is always looking for useful methods to help businesses grow as well as to consistently satisfy customers or clients.
He’s worked in the insurance field for more than 20 years, including managing companies, working at an agency, and providing tools to help clients with their marketing needs.
He’s also gained a good understanding of the best ways to connect with customers, which can include making sure they’re fully satisfied with any transaction and also willing to come back for future products and services. Having access to insurance products can certainly directly improve a customer’s life, but the connection is also important.
Customer satisfaction goes beyond making sure your people have pleasant-sounding voices when they answer questions over the phone. After all, any company can hire people who have the skills for this approach.
What really makes more of a difference is integrating “friendliness” into your entire marketing process. It’s all about treating customers well every step of the way, and even more so during “touches” on email or mail.
It’s all about showing that your entire company and brand, not just the people who happen to work at it, care about the customer, and is willing to make things as wonderful as possible for them, including taking your lumps and making things right if there was a break-down somewhere along the line.
In a sense, this approach is all about showing empathy but from a corporate level.
Just like with ‘people’ empathy, declaring your company’s intention to be more empathetic doesn’t necessarily make it so, and neither is trying to put a performance metric on it – “our team needs to be 30% more empathetic this quarter, OK?” True empathy is something that you have to always be working on and build on over time, similar to your reputation. You also must be sincere about it while you do so.
Corporate empathy is also a concept that customers may not be familiar with, and they might even greet it with suspicion or even skepticism. After all, companies are supposed to be cold and impersonal, and never dream of wanting to make customers feel good.
But if done right, providing empathy will endear customers to you and your brand, especially if your competitors aren’t trying to connect this way. Adding empathy may even add levels of emotional support and reinforcement to a customer’s positive experience with your business, and make their loyalty even stronger.
Integrating more empathy into your marketing workflow also must be deliberative. It can start with looking at your processes and identifying the points in the customer engagement process where messages or opportunities for empathy could be inserted.
This could take the form of stronger messages emphasizing how important a customer’s business is and why the company cares. Verbiage and tone in your language could be ‘softer’ and more conversational – not entirely casual but at least more ‘human’ and warmer.
But then you can use a database program to tie in personalized messages using material that you know about individual customers. Beyond demographic information that they’ve shared, you also can have access to what kinds of products your customers like to buy and what offers they’ve responded to.
Different personalized promotions could call for not just different fields but different paragraphs for different user groups but still featuring the same general message.
Customer profiles can also be crafted to include personal details like ‘has said they don’t like ads about X’ or ‘they have had negative experiences with Y.’ This knowledge can be gathered from the customer service or sales teams based on previous interactions, and put in a centralized location to be part of the profile that can be accessed when putting together future communications.
(Yes, these types of techniques have been used well for generations in traditional sales as a way to get to know your clients, but digital profiles have created more options to keep track of this info.
Some good payoffs could come because of this approach in terms of overall customer appreciation.
Krishen Iyer’s approach
Throughout his career, Krishen Iyer has emphasized providing a personal touch as much as possible and encourages his clients to do the same.
Part of MAIS Consulting includes advising clients on ways they can do business better. This includes encouraging his clients to look for partnerships, which can increase everyone’s visibility. Part of this effort can include finding ways for people in the industry for a long time to connect with those just starting out so the newcomers have a leg up and the veterans can share their knowledge.
He also uses a variety of traditional techniques as well as online methods and shares both sets of tools with his clients.
Certainly, agents should be competitive, but in other cases, finding common ground with peers, such as teaming up for a charitable project, can be good for the whole community.
Krishen Iyer grew up in the Fresno area. He studied public administration and urban development at San Diego State University and then began learning the insurance business.
Over the years, he’s owned or been involved in a range of companies, including NMP Insurance that also went by the name Name My Premium. This helped clients put together a plan that worked ideally for them, their coverage needs, and their budget.
Next, he created another company called Managed Benefit Services, a full-service licensed insurance agency that also offered marketing services as well as digital analytics based on customer demographics. These were provided as sales leads based on the high likelihood of being able to encourage certain customer groups to buy products.
Clients who purchased these leads could focus their attention on these specific types of customers rather than trying to mass market their services.
Selling MBS led to the creation of MAIS Consulting. He continues to focus on creating partnerships along with giving clients smart strategies for getting the word out.