Here’s a scenario many can relate to: you’re perusing the wine aisle of a fancy liquor store, trying to land on the perfect bottle for dinner tonight. Without a sommelier’s knowledge of the various regions, varietals and vintners, you’re sort of going in blind. In other words, you don’t have the resources to make the best choice. Then, a merchant steps up – finally, some help. But rather than providing information, choice and guidance, the merchant’s trying to push the most expensive bottle on you.
This is a good example of the opposite of customer empowerment, and this article makes a case for why you should never run a business like the merchant above.
What Is Customer Empowerment?
Customer empowerment sits alongside “customer satisfaction” and “customer service” in the trifecta of good customer management. While customer service is primarily concerned with assistance, and customer satisfaction is primarily concerned with overall happiness, customer empowerment is all about customer success.
You want to give your customers the choices, resources and good-faith guidance they require to make the right decisions.
How to Empower Customers and Clients
How do you empower customers to make the best decisions?
Regan McGee, the founder and CEO of Nobul, summed it up best. Speaking to Superb Crew, he describes his company as bringing “choice, accountability and transparency to an industry that has – for decades – been widely regarded… as opaque and challenging.” His company is all about “empowerment for homebuyers,” but those principles carry over into just about any industry.
Choice, accountability and transparency – those are the three pillars of customer empowerment. Make sure your customers have a comprehensive survey of their choices. Ensure they’re armed with the resources to understand and interpret those choices. Be transparent about the details, pricing structures and shortcomings of each choice. And, ultimately, keep yourself accountable for their satisfaction and success.
Why Empower Customers?
Simply put, empowered customers are repeat customers and brand ambassadors. When consumers feel in control, they are more likely to remain loyal, retain your services, provide increased Customer Lifetime Value (CLV), and generate positive word-of-mouth.
Opacity may serve as a short-term strategy, but it flounders in the long term, sowing dissatisfaction, frustration – and ultimately defection. Be upfront about everything from pricing to choices, and you’re more likely to win over customers.
There’s another reason to empower customers: it transfers ownership of the decision to the consumer. In the analogy above, the merchant pushed a product onto the customer. In this scenario, if the customer doesn’t enjoy the product, that dissatisfaction falls squarely on the merchant. But let’s say the merchant had supplied the customer with transparent information and ample choice. If the customer didn’t enjoy the wine in this scenario, they would at least be dissatisfied on their own terms.
Every business/independent professional offering a product or service can benefit from customer empowerment. By keeping your customers informed and involved, you make them active participants in the consumer experience, which allows them to feel good about their decision or purchase.