We get it. Sometimes when you’re consumed with crunching numbers or conversion rates, it’s easy to forget that behind each of your sales is a customer who is as human as you and me. They’re human beings with bad hair days and nights of zero sleep; people with annoying in-laws and stressful jobs.
Keeping the humanity of your customers in mind and optimizing your service to make their lives better can go a long way towards making your business sustainable and profitable - regardless of whether it’s online or brick-and-mortar. Having advocates in your customer base makes incredibly good business sense, too.
Research over the past few years continues to prove that existing customers are worth more than newly acquired ones. 55% of customers say they would pay more for better customer service. According to Gartner Group, 80% of your company’s future revenue will come from just 20% of your existing customers. Adobe reported that online retailers spend nearly 80% of their digital marketing budgets acquiring shoppers, for each 1% of shoppers who return for a subsequent visit, overall revenue will increase by approximately 10%. This means if retailers retained 10% of their existing customers, they would double their revenue.
In addition, customer retention is key for all businesses in gaining feedback for future improvement. Your company advocates will participate in surveys and review services, weighing in on matters with their opinions because once your company has shown genuine interest in them, they are likely to reciprocate.
Let’s discuss the seven steps to increasing your service quality and retaining customers:
1. Keep consistency in customer interactions. When a customer sends an inquiry, reply as soon as possible to increase your chances of success. It could be the difference between making or losing a sale. Email responses should be personal and free from spelling and grammar mistakes.
2. Choose the right employees. Most businesses spend a lot of time and money hiring new employees, which, when done poorly, can be a waste of resources. The most recent national average of employee turnover in the United States is 16.7%. Focusing on the hiring process itself (rather than the training) will help you weed out unmotivated salespeople, unethical individuals and prospects without people skills. Customers are drawn to friendly and familiar faces when they enter or contact a business. Your goals should be to find people who will stay with your company for as long as possible and who are full of life, positive mindsets, and who genuinely believe in your mission. An excellent hiring process format is the comprehensive interview. Limit fill-in-the-blank questions on your application and have your applicants write full paragraph reasons on why they want to work for you. If you don’t get good vibes from the first five applicants, interview five more.
3. Use technology to keep customer data. Customers will always remember the business owner that sent a small gift for their birthday or took them out to lunch once in a while. These business owners stand out in a good way. Process management technology can help you achieve this important step in customer retention. You can enter important data about your customers in a CRM system for later reference. You’ll be able to reach out to your customers in ways that other businesses lack with birthday and holiday reminders ahead of time and in so doing, create champions out of your customers. Given that as much as 71% of customers would end a relationship with a company because of poor customer service, it makes sense to go above and beyond.
4. Under promise and over deliver. If you set customer expectations low, when the product or service is delivered the customer will be blown away by the experience. And that's exactly how you want to be positioned for the next call with that client. The worse thing you can do is the exact opposite of this, so don’t be guilty of it. Whatever you tell your customers you will do for them, go above and beyond it. They will be blown away in the best way, and a blown-away customer makes a phenomenal advocate for your company.
5. Take advantage of social listening and respond appropriately. Every complaint or concern raised by a customer on your social media channels—or elsewhere on the web—is an opportunity to win over customers. Not only do customer interactions on social media give a chance to solve the individual customer’s problem, thereby increasing their satisfaction and loyalty; they show your network (and the customer’s) that you are responsive to customer needs.
6. Anticipate needs. Show your customers that you’re always putting them first by thinking of what they might want ahead of time- whether it’s a thoughtful email during the account on-boarding process, a handwritten note expressing appreciation for a loyal customer, or a new product or service from your company that solves a problem they’ve been entirely unaware of.
7. Enchant your customer. Here are a few proven ways to making your customer fall in love with your business:
• Genuinely interact with them.
• Respect them. (Don’t be pushy!)
• Always listen. Hear what your customer is saying.
• Continue to satisfy. Offer ongoing support and specials.
• Build trust. Alert customers to large scale changes, good or bad.
• Be transparent. Honesty is crucial when it comes to mistakes.
• Recognize responsibility. The customer is always right.
• Always say “thank you” because gratitude goes a long way.
From the hiring process to data keeping, it may seem like a never-ending task building excellent customer service. Just remember, though, that customer service can be summed up in one motto, The Golden Rule: Treat others as you wish to be treated yourself. If you keep this in mind in all your servicing decisions, your business will have wind beneath its wings.
For more information on how 10twelve can position your company for success, contact us today.