Five Steps to Retaining your Customers
The author of this post is located in the U.K.
There’s a cardinal rule for businesses in any sector today: It’s less expensive to retain a customer than to acquire a new one. Seventy-two percent of businesses say improving customer experience is their top priority, yet many miss the opportunity to make the customer experience the best it can be.
Losing a customer is an easy gambit. Make him wait in a queue on the phone. Make her recite her information and issue multiple times to multiple agents. Answer his response on social media with a request to write an email re-stating the issue. There are literally hundreds of ways to push a customer away from your company and your brand.
To retain customers takes time, effort, and a close eye on analytics throughout the customer lifecycle. What it doesn’t take is a big budget. Service design and customer journey mapping is the key to delivering an effective customer experience and it’s an ongoing and iterative process. These five steps can help you focus your attention on your customers and target their needs without breaking the bank.
1. Use What you Know About your Customers
The moment a customer reaches out to you – or you reach out to them – make sure that your agents have full access to the customer’s profile, buying history, and preferences. You’ll want to consolidate from multiple CRM systems and integrate your CRM, ERP and contact centre applications. Details like if the customer is calling from their home phone or a mobile phone can influence the speed of the interaction (customers on the road will likely need answers faster) and the depth of the interaction (they aren’t going to be able to walk through a technology reset if they are in their car). The more the agent knows about the customer at that point in time – including the product they ordered, the delivery time, any recalls, etc. – the better the engagement and overall experience.
2. All Channels Should be Equal
In an omnichannel world, it shouldn’t matter where your customers come to meet you. The experience they have with your brand should be the same across all platforms. A mobile phone company received hundreds of complaints because customers couldn’t go into the store and request changes to their contracts. The stores weren’t equipped to handle those orders. Customers were frustrated and angry. To resolve this problem, the company installed kiosks in the stores where customers could pick up the phone and be directly connected to an agent who could help them out. The kiosk took the burden off of the store staff but helped retain customers, all at minimal cost.
3. Know what Platform your Customers Like Best
While all channels should be equal in terms of functionality, as we just said, it’s a different story when it comes to staffing. Certain generations and demographics are more likely to want to interact over phone, email, web chat or SMS than others. Get to know your customers so that you can ensure their preferred medium is where you train your resources. An older generation will expect a fully staffed contact centre while a younger one will want rapid-fire responses over SMS text. Knowing your audience will enable you to align your limited resources in a cost-effective manner.
4. Use Technology, Including Self-Service, to its Optimum
You can satisfy, and thereby retain, customers just by responding to them quickly. In fact, a recent West study finds that over three-fourths of respondents define good service as speed to resolution – both when they reach out and when you reach out to them. Carefully crafted and simple interactive voice responses can help a customer navigate their customer service issues quickly and to full resolution, resulting in an excellent customer experience. Customers are becoming more and more comfortable with self-service on the phone, by email, and via chat and many consider it a viable option for interacting with a brand. Resolving questions the first time a customer reaches out to you through a well thought out automated system is a money-saving proposition, lightening the load on your human agents.
5. Analytics and AI all Around
So how do you make sure your automated system is dead on? AI and analytics offer the real-time learning and historical knowledge necessary to streamline your interactive voice response and other automated systems. Analysing contact centre logs can reveal common questions and the dialogue that brought them to the quickest resolution. You can mimic these through IVR, always offering customers the option to connect with a live agent.
Customers are going to want to connect with you at some point in their buying cycle and you have to be ready. Keep in mind that one wrong move and you’re likely to lose them. Predict their requests and you’ll have mastered the art of customer retention and an optimised customer experience.
Service Design & Customer Journey Mapping Masterclass
Learn how to better understand your customer’s needs, design services around them and provide better customer experiences. Join us on 16 January, 2019 in Dublin, Ireland for a free day-long master class with customer service, CX and AI engagement strategist, Martin Hill-Wilson.
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