We talk a lot about how to enter the Chinese market and how to attract new Chinese customers, but what about retaining them?
China and the power of word-of-mouth
It is known that acquiring new clients is actually much harder than keeping the ones you already have. Having a quality customer service also helps in building a good reputation both online and off-line. As a matter of fact, about 70% of customers in China will leave comments online regarding whether they are satisfied, or not, by a brand. Needless to say, with over 90% of Chinese netizens having at least one social media account, the comments left online can have a detrimental impact on a brand’s e-reputation. Word-of-mouth in China is widely spread through a highly connected population on forums and social networks.
According to this article originally from Oxford University Press Australia, Word-of-mouth has more impact on a less mature market than it has on a mature market. This study was the result of a comparison between the automotive industry in the US and China. Thus in China word-of-mouth is key and e-reputation is vital in the digital age in order to facilitate positive sentiment.
We talk a lot about how to enter the Chinese market and how to attract new Chinese customers, but how about retaining them?
What is the digital customer experience and why you need to shift..
The ever-changing landscape of the Chinese economy makes it in some ways easier and in others more complicated to do business in The Middle Kingdom. The first thing that changed is the fact that you will find Chinese companies, and investors everywhere in the world. From Europe to Africa, Chinese manufacturers have been investing heavily. According to the latest data, over US$500 billion have been invested since 2005. One of these investments was in the port in Athens, Greece where COSCO Chinese shipping giant decided to buy a large share of the Port of Piraeus.
The Chinese consumer profile is also not the same anymore. The rising middle class and increasing disposable income are all reasons why using a digital customer experience strategy is vital. Consumer’s have greater access to mobile phones, computers and are more willing to buy online. According to ANZ research, over 90% of the Chinese urban population will be part of the middle class by 2030. This means an additional 326 million Chinese middle-class citizens and a total of 854 million by 2030.
China was formerly known as the “manufacturing plant of the world”. This is no longer that accurate, innovation is one of China’s driving forces. The web giants such as Tencent and Alibaba are living proof of the ascent of China’s power to innovate. As a western brand, it is thus important to note that domestic competition is strong and there are many innovative ways to improve your Chinese’s customer’s experience.
How to improve your Chinese consumers’ digital experience
Understand your target market and create a new customer journey map
According to Big door.com, a customer journey map is “a framework that (…) documents the customer experience through their perspective (…). Great customer journey maps are rooted in data-driven research, and visually represent the different phases of your customers experience based on a variety of factors such as sentiment, goals, touch points, and more.”
After identifying your target market in China, you have to create a digital strategy that will help your brand to no only gain greater awareness by creating more touchpoints with the customer but also to maintain high-quality communications with them. The form of the message can be storytelling, advertising, or publishing high-quality content (images, videos, …)
Be mobile-phone savvy and use social media
As we have seen earlier in this article, social media is a big thing in China. About half of the population have access to the internet and 90% of them have a social media account. Another fact is that over 90% Chinese netizens use their mobile phone to access the internet! You will have to adapt your strategy as most western social media are not used in China. The biggest platforms are WeChat, Weibo, QQ, and Ren Ren.
WeChat is an instant messaging mobile app with more than 650 million active users. The second largest is Weibo, a micro-blogging platform similar to Twitter with over 222 million active users in China.
Both of these platforms can be used to create even more touchpoints with your current Chinese consumers. WeChat offers several features for brands willing to offer customer service thanks to the chat system and auto-reply function. You can have a direct conversation with your wechat fans via an official account. You can even create a loyalty program and offer special discounts to them. As for Weibo it can be used to share information about new collections, offers and other news.
That is actually what the sportswear brand, Nike, did by launching a promotion campaign which consisted of posting a ‘call-to-action’ video broadcasting regular Chinese people giving their motivations for running. They shared the video on social media and online video platforms and asked the viewers to comment and give their thoughts.
Are you a luxury brand?
If you are you may have to invest in several digital premium tools like digital showrooms or augmented reality which is growing fast in China to provide wealthy customers with a different kind of experience. Not only will they feel more valued, they will also share this and want to buy into a brand if they feel like they are VIP and not just the common Chinese consumer.
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— Olivier VEROT (@Olivierverot) 12 juillet 2016