Customer Retention Begins With Putting Customers First

No matter whether you’re running a small business or a Fortune 500 company, one customer in the hand is worth more than two in the marketing funnel.

Customer retention is the killer application for your customer service strategy. After all, the typical customer is worth as much as 10 times the original purchase price, and will convert on subsequent offers up to 70 percent of the time, Help Scout reports.

When you consider the typical conversion rate of online or offline marketing, turning first-time customers into repeat buyers delivers the best bang for your buck.

Sounds great. But how do you generate loyalty and repeat sales, and turn transactional buyers into brand evangelists? Customer support is perhaps the most critical role of service before, during and after the sale. KISSmetrics reports that 71 percent of customers stop doing business with a company after a bad service experience.

You can take proven steps to create a quality customer experiences by understanding what customers really care about and building a set of insightful customer-focused KPIs.

Focus on Customer Satisfaction First

Focusing on the right metrics will help identify areas that fall short in your customer experience. Process-focused metrics such agent time on call will leave customers feeling frustrated as agents take any steps necessary to meet their metrics.

Instead, focus on metrics that reflect the customers’ desire for a speedy, thorough resolution. For instance, first contact resolution rate is a powerful metric as it reflects customers’ desire to complete their business in one call. Moving this metric in the right direction requires training agents on common questions for products and services, and understand the process for escalation. Empower agents to do what it takes, within limits of course, to satisfy the customer.

Another useful KPI is the average resolution time, which tracks how long customers are engaged during a normal inquiry. You can get a clear picture how efficiently your customer service system handles customer issues by tracking time and total number of contacts for each call. If the resolution time is expanding, take a look at training materials or upgrading the customer support scripts to uncover problem areas.

In the social media age, it’s useful to engage in the various channels that customers are using. Your organization should get an understanding of where your customers interact. However, you don’t always have to jump on the latest app bandwagon. Concentrate your efforts on a few major channels, or specialized channels for your particular industry. Industry forums are a good place for B2B companies to monitor conversations and trends.

One thing to remember about social media is that you can train your audience where to find you. If customers find out they are almost assured a response to their query via one channel, they will use that channel even if it’s not their favorite for other uses.

For many companies, real-time channels such as phone support and live chat are the most used options. Track user behaviors when customers access self-service options such as FAQs or a knowledge base, and then access live chat or other contact channels. You can up date your materials to answer these common questions that have been unanswered on your site.

Focusing on a few channels allows for greater involvement and also helps limit budget impact. Don’t overextend the customer support strategy and leave customers hanging by trying to do too much. If it takes a week to get an email response, customers will remember that.

Post-contact surveys can help fine tune support strategies to reflect customer’s true experiences, and their insights into areas that could use improvement to reach truly best in class service. The line separating good customer service from great customer service can be a thin one, requiring determination to uncover what it takes to be the best.

Automation Creates Customer Connections

Today, great companies are embracing automation to deliver great customer support. One of the best ways of delivering a personalized, responsive experience is through the use of triggered live chat driven by customer actions. A timely intervention as a customer seems to be struggling with a purchase can turn an abandoned cart into a sale, and a frustrated shopper into a loyal customer.

For instance, if a customer has spent a long time registering an account and leaves items in a cart, they may have questions about pricing, shipping or other concerns. A live chat interaction can help answer those questions. Also, automation can monitor social media based on specific keywords or hashtags and allow customer support agents to reach out to customers who may be experiencing problems or have questions.

Meeting customers where they are with the answers they need can turn a one-time customer into a loyal patron, with a lifetime revenue stream. Loyal customers create stability that can facilitate growth and help create a positive brand image in the digital and physical world, reflecting your company’s core competency in delighting customers.

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