According to research, over 70% of all customers who leave a company for its competition have no problem with the product. Their main issue is with the customer care offered. This means that customer churn can hypothetically be reduced by 70% with world-class customer care.
The trouble is, world-class customer care can come with a hefty price tag. Data from the Worldwide Industry Benchmark Report for 2015 shows that the average cost per inbound customer service call is $1.30. This is for average customer care. But the minute you want to up the ante, the costs go up exponentially.
That does not mean you give up on the quest for exceptional care for your customers. Here are a few ideas that will help reduce your customer care costs without a negative impact on quality.
No matter how fancy your software, if you don’t have the right people manning your customer care lines, you’re in for big trouble. By “right”, I mean the few essential traits that your staff needs to have, including:
All these qualities make a stellar customer care representative—one that you’ll be proud to have to represent your business. Once you have good employees, invest time and resources in training them well. Teach them how to get things right in the first attempt, how to mollify heated situations, and how to work together as a team.
As you rightly guessed, such people don’t come cheap. Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish by hiring the least experienced or skilled people who apply to your customer care positions. By investing in talented staff, you will improve customer satisfaction, reduce repeat calls, and increase overall revenue in the long run.
Customers call up your support hotline for a myriad of reasons. It could be anything from solving product issues to maintenance requests. However, with the help of customer support software, it is possible to track the reasons why users call and identify those that top the list. Once you’ve identified the top problem areas, work out a way to fix them. Let’s say the majority of your calls are about monthly purchases. By setting up a simple section on your site that allows users to buy monthly subscriptions, you automate the payment process and eliminate the cost of taking user calls for purchases.
Mike Cholak from Convergys suggests building a “Customer Experience Map.” Map out the path your customers take through your support system and identify processes or products that make for a poor user experience. Fixing these issues on priority helps improve your customer’s overall satisfaction rate with your company. It will also mean fewer repeat calls, shorter call times, and quicker problem resolution, all contributing to a lowering of customer care costs.
Customers cite calling call centers and waiting to be served as one of the most irritating things they do in a day. Avoid troubling your customers by offering them information about your product or service upfront, via detailed FAQs.
Some important things to remember about your FAQs section:
However awesome your FAQ section maybe, some users simply can’t go without having a real person answer their questions. They can’t be bothered to “go on the internet” and dig into instructions or forum discussions. To help such customers, create a self-service option on your customer care phone lines, or provide live chat options on your site.
The technology available today can eliminate the need for having all your customer care personnel under one roof. You can build a support team that works from home and is located anywhere in the world at a significantly lower cost than transporting people to your location, paying rent, utilities, and other assorted overhead at a permanent commercial property.
Remote workers have been known to put in longer hours, are less stressed out, and are cheaper to maintain than employees in physical offices. Microsoft’s “Work Without Walls” whitepaper tells you all the different benefits that come with remote workers such as:
However, ensure that your customer service agents are equipped with tools and useful software that enable them to work efficiently. Zendesk Chat, for example, allows agents to chat with the customer and each other through a simple web-based dashboard.
The ability to track your agent and customer support team’s performance through analytics will also be useful in helping your teamwork better from their respective locations
You need to keep updating your customer strategies to ensure that they are happy with your products & services. Everything from customer marketing with campaigns based on shopper feedback to improving your omnichannel strategy can help you boost customer retention and increase trust and loyalty.
How many times have you dealt with a Contact Centre where the customer service repetitive (CSR) has not really listened to your conversation or has interjected whilst you have been talking?
From my perspective, it happens all too often and is really an unpleasant experience.
Many Contact Centres have strong KPI targets set around average call lengths, which in turn can lead to the CSR’s rushing through calls and not taking the time out to really listen and understand the customers’ needs.
Occasions where the CSR is not really understanding the problem can be easily resolved by the proven process of the CSR repeating the caller’s concerns/issues or questions as part of the usual interaction.
This is called active listening and is the old story of getting your CSR’s to slow down, listen, repeat, confirm, and respond!
Of course, the other golden rule is to always train and encourage your CSR’s to never talk over a caller whilst they are dealing with them!
As part of the gap analysis, it was discovered that the Contact Centre CSR’s were doing the customers an injustice when selling products and servicing their needs, which was driving customer attrition.
It is not recommended to bombard the customers with too much technical information, and in-house terminology. This meant the customers became confused and embarrassed during the call because they did not really understand what the CSR’s were talking about.
The golden rule in these cases is to make sure your CSR’s are talking to your customers on their own terms so that the customer becomes empowered and understands what is being talked about.
The Company acknowledged this issue and agreed to implement our suggested initiative of “talking in real terms”.
Once in place, the Company realized a direct decrease of 1.5% in customer attrition from this initiative alone, a winning formula in anyone’s books!
Do you currently exceed your customer’s service expectations?
Using Service Level Agreements (SLA’s) and providing good old fashioned customer service are powerful tools to help retain customers.
SLAs can be measured against a number of key attributes in any Contact Centre, including, Speed of answer, Issue resolution times, and service provision.
All of these areas are where customer’s expectations can readily be exceeded by not only the measurement of success but also the provision of best practice service.
Imagine calling a company, not having to wait in a queue to be answered, being served by a CSR that engaged with you, understood your needs, provided great service, sold you products that were applicable to you, and generated solutions to problems; and the list goes on.
Wouldn’t that be a great experience every time you transacted with an organization like this!
Suggested Reading: Reasons to invest in CX
Reducing customer attrition through the use of tools such as “Save initiatives” is an exciting subject that could have its own article dedicated to it.
However, I will give you a quick overview of a couple of scenarios that have successfully aided businesses which I have supported.
Firstly there are two types of saving initiatives: proactive and reactive.
Proactive initiatives are undertaken before a customer has left your business and is orchestrated as a reaction to subtle triggers that the customer is displaying that lead you to believe he/she may be looking to move away from your business. For example, a customer that has recently met the average lifetime value of your customer base could be considered at risk of leaving so you may wish to acknowledge that customer for their custom.
Reactive initiatives are driven as a direct result of the customer advising that they are leaving your
business. For example, it could be an offer of a discount if they retain their business with your company.
Save initiatives can be as complex or as simple as you want or need them to be, but the implementation of any save initiative within a business and particularly via its Contact Centre operations is a positive step in helping reduce customer attrition.
Best practice organizations have comprehensive Save initiatives with dedicated budgets and empower their CSR’s to be able to offer services/products/discounts as needed to retain customers.
Companies that are starting out on the Save initiative journey can start with simple things like sending a voucher to customers that are reaching the customer average live time value or have not transacted with them for an extended period of time.
If you are struggling with any aspect of customer management, our team has recently helped many businesses get their customer strategies in order.
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The buying experience often gets the most attention in customer service. Conversions are the name of the game for most businesses, so it would make sense that importance is placed on the process leading up to a purchase. For example, retail brands focus heavily on ensuring that sales associates help shoppers find the right sizes, greet guests warmly, create quick and easy checkout processes, and include thoughtful touches like water bottles in change rooms.
These are all important components of a great customer service experience, but so are the processes that take place after the fact. Indeed, the post-purchase experience can be just as important, if not more so, in securing customer loyalty. Customers want to feel that they are important even after they have handed over their money. So, how do you ensure you make your clients and customers feel valued after they’ve purchased something from your company? Here are a few strategies that can help.
Just as there are policies and procedures set up for sales associates and live chat agents, there should be policies and processes set up to ensure a smooth post-purchase experience for customers.
Firstly, maintain communication with your customers after they have placed an order or made a purchase at your store. For digital brands, this might involve an e-mail pathway that confirms the transaction, sends a shipment notification, provides an estimated delivery date, and seeks feedback about the customer’s level of satisfaction with both the service and/or the product.
Secondly, sales associates, call center agents, and live chat agents should know what to do when an order is delayed, or when a customer is dissatisfied or seeking an update on order status. If customer service agents are empowered with the tools to find answers and solve problems, customer satisfaction and retention will likely be improved.
Another important component of the post-purchase experience is the collection of feedback. Companies brands should reach out to customers after they have made a purchase to gauge how satisfied they were with the product or service they purchased. Not only does this help brands improve their own customer service, but posting reviews can help convert future customers as well. it is five times more expensive to attract a new customer than to retain an existing one. So, pay attention to your existing customers and get their feedback to improve and refine your customer service skills and product offerings.
Nobody likes confrontation. However, ignoring dissatisfied customers is poor business practice. Brands should seek out customers who are complaining about their product or service on social media or in the reviews section of their website and then offer a resolution. For example, offering exchanges, returns, discounts, or even a simple ‘Thank you for the feedback’ can have a significant impact.
Additionally, it is helpful to have efficient ways for customers to reach a real person they can talk to about any concerns they may have post-purchase. This is where call centers with well trained agents and call-back technology are incredibly important. They ensure that customers can reach a real, live human without spending hours on hold.
Finally, post-purchase is the best time for brands to start to work on customer retention, brand loyalty, and creating brand evangelists. Brands can do this by sharing special offers and incentives with their existing customers. For example, birthday gifts or discounts, early access to sales and new products, and loyalty or referral programs can all help ensure customer happiness.
Implementing policies and procedures, seeking feedback, helping out dissatisfied customers, and encouraging brand loyalty are all key components of creating a successful post-purchase strategy. With a strong focus on these strategies, you can set your brand apart and create a great community of happy (and repeat) customers.