In such competitive times, the need to attract and retain a dedicated customer base is a crucial component to your company’s success.
Read on for five great ways to get customer loyalty.
1. Embrace the community
It’s an unfortunate fact that, even with effective marketing and the most impressive products, your customer enticement efforts can go to waste without a proper level of service to back them up. This means that, when crunch time rolls around, it’ll be down to your telephone staff to prove that your service runs deeper than advertising.
Whilst the value of impeccable manners and technical know-how should not be underestimated, there are a number of smaller, more intricate gestures that can lay the foundations for sustained rapport. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding – so try icing your cake with the following handy tips:
Consider your client base to be a community, and instruct your agents to escalate their feedback. That way, customers will feel personally engaged with the operation, development and gradual improvement of your business.
Honesty is king, so if something can’t be done, be sure to tell the customer straight. Twisting the truth will not be forgiven.
Avoid pressurising your clients. If they don’t want what you’re trying to sell, accept the rejection with good grace, and move on.
Thank customers for their interest, even when the sale falls through.
Steer clear of jargon to avoid inadvertently patronising the caller. Where complex technicalities need explaining, try comparing the process to something the customer is already familiar with.
Along with amendments behind the scenes (non-linear scripts, for example, and a simplified, more user-friendly IVR), CHATS will help develop an affinity with your customers – and set you apart from the faceless competition.
2. Right first time
It may sound a no-brainer but, when it comes to retaining a strong customer base, the quality of your complaint resolution could scarcely be more vital. Unless yours is a truly unique and exceptional product, the likelihood is that you need your clients far more than they need you. And, whilst there are certain things your average customer will put up with, incompetence is most certainly not one of them.
That’s why it’s crucial that all customer complaints are dealt with promptly, respectfully and, most important of all, without the need for those mutually tedious repeat calls. To achieve this, you’ll need to:
- Exercise a rigorous training programme for new starters;
- Create a range of service values which cater to your customers’ needs; and
- Ensure a decent level of communication between agents, team leaders, shift managers and the senior representatives of supporting departments.
These three combined will help create a truly efficient work environment where promises are kept, wrongs are righted and even the most complex solutions are identified at the first point of contact.
That done, dedicate a pair of your most trusted agents to “social patrol”. Armed with experience and the discretion to make judgement calls, this knowledgeable duo will scour your social network pages, publicly resolving complaints as they go. In doing so, they’ll help protect your hard-earned reputation and, just as importantly, show the entire community just how seriously you take their satisfaction.
Remember – a customer who is impressed by your service will not only contribute more than their fair share towards your annual revenue, they may well bring their friends along for the ride, too. And as if things couldn’t get any better, you can help seal the deal by implementing a business-relevant referral scheme. Such as…
3. Recommend a friend
Despite their simplicity and the proven benefits involved, it is a sad fact that many corporations continue to shun the humble customer referral policy. Typically, such companies plump instead for one-off incentives which offer short-term benefits to only their newest patrons. Whether in the form of a £30 shopping voucher or a free addition to a first-time purchase, what the authors of such offers fail to appreciate is the undying power of word-of-mouth.
Reality check: in spite even of their most frantic efforts, the persuasive powers of your marketing team will never match those of prospective customers’ friends, spouses and family members. What’s more, by presenting special offers only to new customers, you’ll leave existing clients feeling abandoned, used and generally disenchanted with the services your company offers.
Never forget that loyalty is a two-way street; by allowing your regulars to benefit directly from their continued custom, you’ll not only keep them engaged with your product, you’ll bring in further business to boot. It’s fair enough, really; after all, aren’t your long-term clients the ones who have helped build your reputation thus far? Give a little back and spread the love.
But whilst we’re on the subject of long-term clients, let’s move swiftly along to the…
4. Loyalty concierge
As previously implied, your most loyal customers (MLCs) will commonly make up a disproportionately large percentage of your yearly profit. And, as tempting as it might be, it would be naïve to consider such clients “permanent residents”. Indeed, even the most trivial error by a new starter can be enough to send an MLC rushing into the arms of the competition. So, what to do?
Given that your MLCs are also the most likely patrons to sing your praises, it is well worth investing in a specialist team of senior agents charged solely with handling the queries and concerns of your highly devoted. This investment may be particularly pertinent if your main contact centre is located abroad; rightly or wrongly, the service afforded by offshore agents is commonly considered inferior to that of their UK counterparts. So why not think of your concierge service as an insurance policy; when there are high-rolling customers at stake, why take the risk?
The first step towards setting up your loyalty concierge is, of course, to identify your most lucrative customers. If you then adapt your IVR so that all callers are required to enter their membership numbers whilst on hold, a little IT wizardry should enable the automatic routing of your MLCs into the masterly hands of the dedicated onshore team.
Having said all this, it is important to appreciate the fact that not all MLCs last forever. Some, for instance, may move abroad, whilst others might simply lose their need for the service you provide. For this reason, it is imperative that you work continuously to nurture the next generation of enthusiastic patrons. And since the sprouting of the seed can hinge on a single agent’s ill-timed annoyance, your staff should avoid without exception the use of irritating sales techniques.
And the undisputed champion of said techniques? Why, it’s the…
5. Unwanted up-sell
If there’s one thing sure to inspire a Pavlovian revulsion in your prospective clients, it’s the unbridled persistence of an over-zealous sales agent.
Now, there is nothing wrong with offering your customers an additional product that is relevant to their purchase history; where companies tend to go wrong is the means by which offers are made.
The unhappy truth is that, for most businesses, the ratio of successful up-sells is far from impressive. Indeed, considering their time-consuming nature and the exasperated customers, the jury is still out as to whether up-sells actually help boost a company’s net profit.
With this in mind, it is best to restrict the advertisement of your up-sell products to post, email and during your IVR sequence. That way, any interested customers will be conveniently filtered out from the flock. And when your agent fails to initiate the sale, the caller’s intrigue will only grow, prompting him or her to request more details. It’s reverse psychology, but in reverse… sort of.
If you absolutely must offer up-sells over the phone, be sure to operate a strict “one rebuttal” policy. That way, you’ll retain a blanket offers policy, and your agents won’t waste precious dialler time trying to prise blood from a stone. Always remember: the customers are the single most important cog in the wheel of any company’s success; by affording them the respect they deserve, your services could become an equally important aspect of their everyday lives.
And so to the moral of the story: give a little love and it will return to you with interest.
But how do you boost your customer loyalty levels? Please share your thoughts
George Dixon is a regular contributor to Call Centre Helper