We explain three ways that high-value customers can jump the queue.
Why provide segmented customer service?
“All animals are created equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
George Orwell, Animal Farm
Many contact centres treat all customers equally, but by doing so don’t look after their high-spending customers. It is likely that these select few will regularly be spending far more than your average customer, so it makes good business sense to take care of them.
“When your top customers can spend 50%–75% more, it pays for itself.”
With thanks to @JonnyTindal
In a standard call centre queue, your business has no idea where these high-value customers are, and therefore has no way of giving them the special attention they need. By failing to recognise the loyalty of your high-spending customers, you could lose their custom, at a very high cost to your business.
Finding the right solution
The good news is that it is relatively easy to segregate your customer base and ensure repeat business from these customers.
There are 3 key ways you can segregate your customer base.
1. VIP phone number
A simple way to segregate your customer base is to add a new VIP number, and only give the new number out to your high-value customers.
Once you have decided who will have access to your VIP phone number, you should ensure that all VIP calls are answered by your best agents in the shortest time possible, and that a special effort is also made to build relationships with these customers.
Another option for segmentation is to segment across customer groups or by product line.
- Gold, Silver or Bronze – based on spend or membership category.
- Hosting or dedicated servers (dedicated servers cost more and get higher levels of support).
- Early Life or Normal (acknowledging that customers who have just signed up need more attention).
- You only have to install one new phone number to get started.
- You will only need to assign a small number of agents to the VIP number for the system to be effective; this avoids having to disrupt and retrain the whole of your contact centre.
- You will ensure that your high-priority customers always receive the best service your contact centre can offer.
- If you don’t start out with very clear ideas about which customers this phone line is for, the system will descend into chaos.
- You have to think carefully about how you give the number out. You can’t just publish it on your website or everyone will ring it. Also, whichever way you choose, you still have to trust your customers not to pass it on to their neighbour or post it online.
- Anyone obtaining the number will gain access to your high-priority queue. Once your customers are in that queue, you will have no way of identifying which ones are your real priority customers and which aren’t.
“All customers should receive excellent care, but personalisation does offer an extra level of service to high-profile customers when you can provide them with an ‘exclusive’ contact number.
It also makes it easier to make sure they speak with agents who are best qualified to deal with them and can offer the expected service, knowledge and empathy.”
With thanks to Mieke
2. Call Routing via IVR
Another way to improve service for your high-value customers is to insert an extra option into your IVR system which will segregate your customers before they reach your agents.
For example, a hotel may wish to play the following message: “If this will be your first stay with us, please press 1. If you wish to make a repeat booking, please press 2.”
The exact message you play will depend largely on the type of business you are in, and how you wish to divide up your customer base.
- You can recognise your loyal customers, and ensure that they receive a faster, higher quality service than your first-time customers.
- You only have to give out one phone number, and don’t have to worry about various “special” numbers falling into the wrong hands.
- There is still a margin for error, as non-priority customers have the ability to press the wrong option and get fast-tracked to your best agents.
- Once people are in the high-priority queue, you will have no way of knowing if your £1,000-per-week customer is waiting behind someone who spends £100 per week.
- Your business is likely to experience a period of trial and error before finding the right message to most effectively segregate your customer base. This could put a strain on your company’s time and resources.
“If you require a different skillset to handle different customers (like VIPs) you will need to route the calls accordingly to offer the best customer service.
If you have non-experienced agents handling VIP contacts, they might end up having a bad experience. And if you have highly experienced agents handling low-value customers you are wasting your resources.”
With thanks to Carles
3. Caller Line Identity (CLI) Routing
The most comprehensive option requires the installation of a Caller Line Identity (CLI) routing system, which allows you to route calls based on their telephone number.
A CLI routing system allows you to screen your contact centre’s incoming calls in the same way that you would screen your personal calls. For example, you would choose to pick up a call from your mother, whilst divert an unrecognised number to your voicemail.
In a similar fashion, the CLI system cross-references all incoming calls against a database and pushes the important callers to the top of the queue.
- You have complete control over which customers receive priority customer service.
- It is a seamless experience for the customer, as the CLI system automatically pushes your prestige customers to the top of the queue.
- The cost of purchasing the technology.
- Time will be lost establishing and maintaining a comprehensive database of priority customers for the system to filter out.
“We have started to look at a personalised service for the top 10% of our customer base. This is based on customer value, i.e. spend, profitability and loyalty.
At the moment, we are diverting those customers to our best agents using Caller Line Identity and we are providing an improved call-handling service to them, i.e. 95% answered in 10 seconds as well as a 2-hour response rate to back-office queries and emails.”
With thanks to one of Call Centre Helper’s readers
Which industries are best suited to this service?
Hotels, airlines and technical support.
How many top customers should you have?
Opinion is divided over what sort of system works best.
We did a straw poll in our chat room and the answers varied between 0.5% and 10% of your customer base.
How do you deliver a segmented service for your priority customers?
Please let us know