Loyal customers are golden but once you’ve found them, how do you keep them? Colin Hay shares his top tips for building and maintaining customer loyalty.
You often hear sales gurus say it’s easier to keep existing customers than to find new ones or they quote the 80/20 rule where 80% of a company’s business comes from 20% of its customer base. However, in a world with social media where negative viral customer comments can threaten an organisation’s good reputation, how do you keep your valued customers happy and prevent them from straying to the competition?
Here we share our top 10 tips for building and maintaining customer loyalty.
1. Remember the customer journey – why do customers contact you in the first place? It is surprising how few organisations actually do this exercise. Understanding what motivates customers to call, for example by looking out for repeat-contact reasons, will give you the information you need to re-align your customer service strategy and introduce a set of relevant, effective tactics.
2. Drink your own champagne – check out your customer’s end-to-end experience. Try out some mystery shopping on your own company – phone your helpline, initiate a web chat conversation and see for yourself what works and what doesn’t. Is it easy to navigate around your company website to find the information you need quickly? Introducing this ‘outside-in’ approach to viewing your customer’s journey could be a revelation and even a wake-up call to kick-start different ways of working within your contact centre
3. Don’t ignore the evidence – contact centre agents represent the shop window to your organisation therefore encourage them to speak directly to customers to gain first-hand insight into their needs and aspirations? Then combine it with speech analytics and silent monitoring to capture the voice of the customer and be sure to follow up on this valuable source of business intelligence. What can you learn from individual customer interactions, good and bad, and what can be done to improve the overall customer experience?
4. Never underestimate the impact of digital transformation – it’s a fact that those in the 18-34 age bracket area, tomorrow’s super-spenders, are more likely to quit a brand through a poor service experience. What is more, it is this same Millennial generation who turn to social media when they are not happy with 47% of 18-34 year-olds admitting to using social media to complain compared with 12% in the 55+ age group! [i]
It’s time to nurture this growing consumer segment who also expect to shop in a mobile, self-serve environment. Take a look at your offering on a smartphone or tablet – is it mobile responsive and are there features that accelerate and enhance the overall experience such as click to call for assistance?
5. Quality and empowerment – give agents the right tools and authority to handle customers based on their own judgment. Standard interfaces to major CRM applications mean agents have the right information at their fingertips to deliver the quality of service that customers deserve and improve customer loyalty.
6. Reduce repetition – customers find having to repeat themselves one of the biggest bugbears in contact centres, whatever the communication channel. Keeping repetition to a minimum by enabling an agent to see a customer’s account history, without having to switch between screens, allows them to deal with enquiries effectively and without delay. Maximising cloud-based integration capabilities builds loyalty from an experience of easy interactions.
7. Omni-channel not multi-channel – offer customer service via the customer’s channel of choice but make it a seamless experience. Giving people the same level of service, whatever the channel, is the true meaning of omni-channel and it will turn them into loyal customers.
8. Make life easy for customers – leverage technology to reduce customer effort. Use IVR to automate routine calls such as bank balance look-ups, payment of utility bills, or purchasing theatre tickets at a time to suit the customer. Why not publish answers to the most frequently asked questions on your company website or provide a Web Chat facility for straightforward enquiries?
9. Review your social customer service – there’s no getting away from it, social media is here to stay. Turn this to your advantage by engaging proactively via social media. Create a platform for customers to exchange ideas, feedback and knowledge. This type of social forum will foster a spirit of inclusivity and encourage learning across your customer base. Take it one step further by rewarding ‘super users’ who share valuable intelligence to help the broader community.
10. Make customers feel special – last but not least, all customers like to feel valued. Encourage agents to follow up interactions with personalised calls or emails to make customers feel special. Why not take advantage of routing technology, based on CRM data, to prioritise VIP customers? Both tactics will guarantee increased satisfaction ratings and promote longer-term loyalty.
You might find that you do all things already but why not translate them into a customer service manual, that can be shared with the rest of the organisation to stimulate shared learning and ensure best-practice procedures? It’s also a good opportunity to assess the underlying technology that underpins your contact centre operation, to boost efficiencies and customer satisfaction and keep those happy customers coming back for more.
 Microsoft’s 2016 ‘Global State of Customer Service’