We updated this post on November 21, 2018.
Phenomenal customer service is raising the stakes in consumer buying decisions.
Your future self will thank you for upping your customer service standards. In a previous life, price was king. Customers carefully chose their purchases based on tags with slashed prices and discounts written in red. Now, you and your competitors have to account for many more differentiators. From a lengthy list of product features down to the personalities of the agents in your contact center, every factor counts in your CX. And showing out in full force as a key competitive differentiator, customer service comes in sizzling.
With 67 percent of U.S. consumers willing to spend more for excellent service, and with a 5 percent increase in customer retention delivering 25 to 95 percent higher profits, better customer service should top every company’s priority list. Now, good customer service is ever-so crucial because it impacts more than just your contact center and team of agents. Positive customer experiences boost sales, increase your number of lifetime customers, and build brand trust. That trust turns into customers who brag about you by word-of-mouth and through happy fingers typing online reviews.
Build a company full of people who are inspired to help your customers and put customer service on a pedestal as if it’s a feature of your product. Then, capitalize on the experience you work so hard to provide. At every stage in a customer’s journey, show your commitment to stellar service. And prove that you’re an entire enterprise dedicated to solving customer problems. Whether it’s your sales’ teams first touch with potential customers or your agents’ enduring relationship with loyal ones, sneak in those reminders of your company’s dedication to fantastic experiences.
Here are three ways how:
1. Surprise and delight your customers to create emotional connections.
Put some humanity back into your service. Rather than opting for scripted calls and a step-by-step procedure list to follow during every interaction, shake things up. Coach your agents to listen to your customers and treat them as individuals instead of cramming their case into a narrow set of guidelines. Encourage them to connect with customers and build a relationship. Those lasting customer relationships translate into lifetime customers for your company. Plus, loyal customers turn into advocates who send referral sales your way. In fact, after having a positive experience with a company, 77 percent of customers would recommend that company to a friend.
The best part: creating an emotional connection doesn’t have to happen with some grand gesture. It can be as simple as a surprise discount at checkout, a follow-up call a few weeks after a sale, or a handwritten note shipped off to celebrate a birthday. Pet retailer Chewy serves as a fantastic example of the unexpected, but forever-beloved handwritten note.
Chewy has thousands and thousands of customers, and they still send each customer a handwritten holiday card. I have coworkers who still rave about the memorable moment the company created. Small, unexpected moments during service interactions build the trust and loyalty you need to tag in brand promoters who sing your praises to friends and family. Plus, aside from throwing a few soft sales your way, customers who are emotionally connected to your company buy more, themselves.
An article in the Harvard Business Review talked about the importance of building an emotional connection with customers. Check out the impact that connection has on your customers’ lifetime value:
“On a lifetime value basis, emotionally connected customers are more than twice as valuable as highly satisfied customers. These emotionally connected customers buy more of your products and services, visit you more often, exhibit less price sensitivity, pay more attention to your communications, follow your advice, and recommend you more – everything you hope their experience with you will cause them to do.” – Alan Zorfas and Daniel Leemon, HBR
2. Be personable on social media.
Social media is emerging as a make-or-break channel for displaying your company’s dedication to positive customer experiences. With 53 percent of customers taking to social media sites to leave rave reviews and 35 percent shouting their frustrations online, social media has shifted from purely marketing-focused to now revolve around helping customers, too. Rather than a feed filled with ads and perfectly-crafted images, view social media as a way to connect with customers.
Be authentic in your responses, and genuinely try to support customers who seek help on social channels. Customers crave an authentic, human connection that shows a real person at your company actually cares about them. Human-to-human communication on a public channel is better than serving up an ad with a generic sales pitch. According to a Bain & Company study, when companies engage and respond to customer service requests over social media, those customers end up spending 20 percent to 40 percent more.
3. Use live chat.
Using web chat in your contact center offers a little-known path to higher customer loyalty and more repeat buyers. Turns out, 52 percent of customers are more likely to make repeat purchases with a company who offers chat support. The average time people spend on a single task before being interrupted or switching to something else is a whopping three minutes. The amount of time they work on a device before switching is around two minutes and 11 seconds. Web chat is a solution to our perpetual state of impatience. It’s a channel that offers up quick and accurate answers for customers who expect responses-so-swift they happen in seconds. Develop a strategy to use chat in your contact center to give your customers access to instant information. Like self-service articles, after-hours support, and conversations powered by ever-learning chatbots when an agent isn’t available to jump in.
Chat’s a channel that customers want. And, when you do it well, it boosts the impact that customer service has on your sales and bottom line. All in all, 79 percent of businesses say offering live chat has a positive effect on sales, revenue, and customer loyalty.
Take a leap and use customer service to your competitive advantage. You’re putting tons of effort, and dollars, into creating awesome experiences for your customers. So, implement service strategies that boost sales and increase customer loyalty. Selling your customers on your incredible standard of service is far more impactful to customer lifetime value than that one-off coupon or “special deal” used to rope in prospects. The more responsive and personalized your agents are with their service, the more important and valued your customers feel. And that’s when you hook them for life.