Does your business focus more on lead generation or retention? The most common answer is lead generation; the right answer is retention.
Retaining customers should be a top priority for your company, no matter what the industry. Think of it this way: is a farmer’s success measured by the number of seeds they plant, or by the weight of their final harvest? Collecting leads can be thought of as planting seeds. Customer service as the tending and watering, and retention as collecting an abundant reward come the end of growing season.
With an average of 68 percent of sales coming from an existing customer base, businesses should focus on keeping their current clients near and dear. But how? Customer service is the best place to start—89 percent of customers say that a company providing poor customer service damages their impression of the brand. And with so many social media channels available—allowing people to express their opinions to a wide audience—you don’t want any damaged impressions floating around unanswered.
To keep the math simple, let’s say Company A has a yearly revenue of $100,000. Every product they sell costs $1. With their existing customers making up 68 percent of their sales, we can see that $68,000 of their annual revenue is thanks to retention.
But if they lose focus on retention and experience a 20 percent cut in their client base, they stand to miss out on nearly $14,000 in expected sales. Put simply, customer service leads to retention. Retention leads to higher sales. Higher sales lead to growth. It’s the ideal business growth cycle.
Learn how to create a customer experience strategy that keeps customers coming back for more with our customer service tips.
Do you know your customer service factors?
If you’re ready to make retention a pillar of your marketing and growth strategy, zeroing in on the customer experience is the first step. Several factors go into creating great customer service.
- Personalization: does the process feel automated or authentic?
- Integrity: do you believe that your product or service truly provides what it promises?
- Empathy: are you dedicated to helping customers solve their problems with your product or service?
- Effort: are you willing to do the necessary work to create a relationship/complete the sale?
- Expectations: do you anticipate, meet, and exceed a customer’s expectations?
- Resolution: if expectations are not met, how do you resolve the issue?
Before turning your focus to retention, take some time to go through each factor of the customer service experience using data or focus groups, along with any customer feedback available. Be honest with your criticism. Where can you improve? What goals can you set to create a better customer experience? What matters most will vary from customer to customer, but when you’re truly committed to delivering an exceptional experience and meeting customer needs, it shows.
Developing a customer service strategy around retention
Consider the following suggestions when developing a strategy to deal with all the different customer interactions with your brand
1. Create a thoughtful onboarding process.
So many businesses abandon new customers before they’ve even put down their pens after signing a contract. That might be a slight exaggeration; but if you're aiming to impress new customers, develop an intimate onboarding process.
It’s important that you engage new customers right from the start and the best way to do it is through a robust onboarding program. This is your chance to train them on how to make the most of your product and maximize return on investment, turning them into satisfied customers.
Example: Create an automated email series that introduces new customers to your brand, provides instructions, and opens the door for communication. You can also explore live chat, as well as video and voice chat solutions to improve new customer support.
2. Make it personal.
Out of all the factors that influence customer experience in today’s market, personalization is easily one of the most important. If you’re overly focused on uniformity and perfection during customer interactions with your team (i.e rote and mandatory scripts such as the classic “do you want fries with that?” at fast food restaurants), you’re likely to create the kind of cold and uncomfortable environment that breeds unhappy customers. Instead, treat every customer as the unique individual that they are, catering their experience based on their history, concerns, and preferences.
Example: The basics of personalization should always be there in your business, like personalized greetings. Take personalization up a notch by learning as much as you can about your loyal customers and recording the data you acquire in CRM software. Then analyze your findings to create personal and unique marketing campaigns that are far less likely to be seen as spam.
3. Give your team power.
As a customer, there’s nothing worse than hearing the following sentence.
We’ll get back to you.
Putting off resolving issues is damaging to your customer experience, as 72 percent of consumers find it frustrating when they have to explain their situation to multiple customer care staff. Empower employees to handle and resolve any issues as they come up. Keep in mind that every situation is unique and having a one-size-fits-all approach to finding resolutions will create impersonal experiences devoid of empathy.
A training program can help equip your customer service team with the resolution options they need. Giving them the power to decide on the fly how to use them will result in confident employees and satisfied customers.
Example: If you run a coffee shop, allow baristas to hand out complimentary drink cards to customers experiencing long waits. If you deliver a service, provide your call center employees with a small list of resolution options to choose from when handling complaints, such as a discount for future services, additional services for free, or full or partial refunds.
4. Get everyone involved.
A lot of companies only focus on the front line when trying to develop their customer service and retention strategy. Instead of training only those who see or speak to customers, get everyone on board. This includes stockers, product developers, and anyone else who’s typically behind the scenes.
Example: Warehouse workers rarely see or speak to customers. If you’ve been receiving complaints about damaged boxes, make sure the information reaches the warehouse. If everyone works together to exceed customer expectations, you’re more likely to achieve higher levels of customer satisfaction and retention.
Customer loyalty requires patience
Great customer service strategies take time to implement. Just like the aforementioned farmer, you must wait a while to harvest your reward: in this case, a growing, successful business.
However, higher retention rates (and boosted profits) will soon follow as you find the best ways to improve customer service in your industry. For more information, take a look at our collection of whitepapers, ebooks, and factsheets.