Increasing competition, rising customer expectations, and an uncertain economy have created an even greater need to strengthen customer relationships and maximise customer retention. Here are some expert tips on improving customer retention and ensuring loyalty.
After the customer has explained any issues, concerns or queries the advisor should give them an indication of how the call will progress based on the information supplied. This means the customer will be prepared for questions rather than feeling uncomfortable and unsure as to what is happening.
Ask questions about the customer and their household. Find out their likes and dislikes and what they enjoy doing in their spare time. Ask if they have children or pets, for example. This builds up a rapport with the customer and personalises the call. It is also helpful to identify interests shared by the customer and advisor. This helps the customers see the advisor as a person that they can relate to.
Always recap what has been discussed and agreed.
This will allow the customer to confirm that they are fully aware of any arrangements made. Highlight any actions that need to be taken. This helps to make the customer feel assured and satisfied that their needs have been met efficiently.
John Mccann, Quality Co-ordinator, RESPONSE
4. Understand your customer segments
Companies need to develop actionable customer segments — not too simplistic and not too complex — and create appropriate save offers for at-risk customers in each segment. Segmentation should be based not only on a financial perspective, but also on customer-behaviour information to find out how these groups use the company’s goods and services. This is key to understanding which offers are most likely to be effective with a given segment.
5. Stay one step ahead – show you care
Companies can use analytics to predict which customers are likely to defect and when, based on customer history, situation, and behaviour. For example, a company might be able to recognise that after a significant billing error, a specific customer is likely to defect within 60 days. The use of predictive analytics has made this a much more accurate process, and experience has shown that this kind of approach can lead to a four-fold reduction in customer churn. That predictive ability is critical in addressing silent attrition because it allows companies to take action without having to wait for the customer to complain.
Aaron Payne, VP Europe, Convergys RTM
6. Use appropriate music on hold
More than two-thirds of consumers admit to putting the phone down if they’re placed on hold to silence for more than 30 seconds. Playing chart music or promotional marketing messages can keep them with you longer. However, on-hold audio can have the opposite effect if it is treated as an afterthought.
Repetitive jingles or disingenuous apologies for keeping them waiting don’t always go down well. Think about your customer demographic: who they are, and why they’re calling you.
The right on-hold audio can keep a customer holding for longer.
Mark Williamson, Sales and Marketing Director for PHMG
7. Be consistent in your approach across channels
Poor service is not just an annoyance for customers; it has a significant impact on a company’s business. At best it creates poor experiences for customers and at worst it drives customers to the waiting arms of competitors.
If customers do not feel they are getting the answer they deserve they will typically try another channel or service number to seek out a more desirable answer.
8. Worry about quality not quantity (first-call resolution over average handle time)
Traditional contact centre metrics of average speed of answer (ASA) and average handle time (AHT) seem to be taking a back seat to customer satisfaction. Customer experience is top of mind in every organisation and we are seeing a real focus on first-contact resolution over speed of answer or average handle times.
Companies are now focused on successful first time and every time experiences. The payback comes through reducing transfers and repeat calls, which improves service effectiveness and boosts customer satisfaction. Having a knowledgeable, helpful representative is now even more important than speed of response or of solving the customer’s problem.
Christopher Hall, Vice President, Product Marketing at InQuira
9. Provide an intelligent experience
Ensuring your staff listen to and empathise with the customer has to be the key element of any customer retention strategy. Understanding what a customer wants from their conversations with a brand, when they want to be contacted and how they want to interact enables a call centre to provide an intelligent and positive experience. Will a voice-only solution match your customers’ preferred mode of communication, or should you consider social media platforms? What about multi-lingual support for international brands – or 24-hour access?
10. Combine customer insight with adaptability
Customer insight has to be combined with an ability to adapt according to these needs, rather than expecting customers to have to jump through multiple hoops to get their issue or enquiry resolved. Once a contact centre is set up to match these needs, companies can start to develop loyalty, with dedicated account teams that understand a customer’s history, requirements and previous engagement with a brand. This helps identify issues before they escalate, but also creates an opportunity to add value – either by up-selling with relevant products, or offering promotions that will match that customer’s profile.
Mark Brown, Managing Director, Contact Centres & Loyalty, arvato UK –
Do you have any other tips for improving customer retention? Put your thoughts in an email to Call Centre Helper.