Each year, customer expectations grow yet budgets stay flat. Customers want more ways to connect with your company; better, faster, and now. You form new strategies or tailor your old ones to the new expectations of customers. But through it all, one question remains the same: Do you know how to keep customers happy?
Turns out, much of that happiness comes from the service you deliver. Customer service shapes buying behavior and determines long-term loyalty to your company.
According to research out of Dimensional Research and Zendesk, 97% of customers say a bad service experience changed how they buy. And another 87% say a good service experience shifted their buying behavior.
For customers, your service is a marker for a successful relationship with your company. If customers get knowledgeable and friendly help from agents, trust blossoms. If agents are frantic and irritable during interactions, trust diminishes.
Customers choose to do business with companies they like. And, your agents hold the key to likability. But holding the key is one thing. Sticking it in the right lock and opening the door to long-term loyalty is another.
As customer expectations rise, providing service that keeps customers happy and builds loyalty gets harder. HubSpot found 88% of customer service professionals agree that customers have higher expectations now than in the past. And, another 76% think customers are smarter and more informed, too.
Now more than ever, you have to strategize what it takes to fuel your customer happiness. If you don’t, you put future business at risk.
To help, we’re sharing 6 data-backed methods on how to keep customers happy.
1. Humanize your support.
Some 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated. And, feeling unappreciated is the number one reason customers switch away from your products and services.
Purchasing decisions and loyalty to companies are rooted in emotion. People choose to do business with companies they like. When your agents handle customer interactions, be sure they don’t lose the human touch. Showing understanding and empathy makes customers happier than sticking to a tightly-knitted call script.
“Customer service, by definition, is about serving people; it should be genuine, personalized, and compassionate—or, simply put, human.”-Kristin Smaby, Being Human is Good Business
2. Make your employees happy.
According to a report on employee motivation in the U.S., 87% of employees who are happy with their jobs are willing to work extremely hard for their company’s customers.
When your agents work hard for your customers, they reduce customer effort and build positive customer relationships. Given that a whopping 96% of customers are disloyal after a high-effort experience, we know that low-effort customer experiences are happier ones. Not to mention, they carry lower operational costs, too.
3. Develop better manager-agent relationships.
I know what you’re thinking. What does my relationship with my direct reports have to do with my customers’ happiness?
Truth be told, how you manage and coach your team has a massive impact on customer happiness.
Because it determines your agents’ empowerment, productivity, and happiness at work. Managers are responsible for 70% of the variance in the employee experience. And when employees choose to leave, it’s often because of the manager, not the job.
In the book The Happiness Advantage, author Shawn Achor talked about the vertical couple – the employee-manager relationship. Achor said companies lose $360 billion from lost employee productivity when employees have poor relationships with supervisors.
“Losing your best people means losing your reliable winners, your constant innovators and your most effective problem solvers.– Shane McFeely and Ben Wigert, for Gallup
“Internally, it breaks down team morale. Externally, it can mean lost customer relationships.”
Unproductive, undervalued agents can’t make customers happy. And, a constant ebb and flow of new agents coming through your doors means less collective experience and company knowledge to solve complex customer problems.
4. Reduce your wait times.
More than half of consumers will wait less than an hour before reaching out to your company a second time for help. And, another 10% will try a different channel in less than five minutes without a response.
Customers are (rightfully) impatient. When an issue pops up, they want a resolution fast. But even before they get to the resolution, they want to feel heard. They want agents to acknowledge that they’re aware of the issue and working to fix it.
Reduce the time it takes to make your customers feel heard. The more and more avenues a customer has to take to reach your company, the more they steep in frustration. Happiness brews when you prioritize fast help for customers.
5. Deliver an omnichannel experience.
Some 67% of customers use channels like live chat, social media, and texting for customer service. Making customers happy now depends on how you handle interactions across every channel.
That’s why companies with strong omnichannel strategies see retention rates hover around 89%, compared to 33% for companies who don’t have strong omnichannel strategies in place
Customers want you to meet them where they are. And, they want a seamless experience no matter how they reach out.
Ready to improve your customer (and agent) retention rates? Learn Sharpen’s approach to omnichannel.
6. Don’t overload your team.
Studies show that 58% of contact center agents are significantly more stressed, 63% more depressed, and 34% more anxious than people in any other profession. Overworked agents on the brink of burnout can’t deliver positive experiences for your customers.
Remember that, like your customers, your agents are human, too. Work with your team and use WFM to better forecast scheduling, so your team can take needed breaks and PTO. And, so you have enough agents on staff to handle the interactions you expect.
The more overloaded your team, the more stress spikes. And with stress, your agents’ sense of calm and empathy vanishes.