What makes your customers loyal?
- A voucher offering a discount for their next purchase?
- A bottle of wine or basket of fruit to greet them in their room when they check in to your hotel?
- A bunch of flowers on their birthday?
Gartner conducted a quantitative research study with hundreds of customer service organisations and 97,000 customers, to investigate their service interactions. The data uncovered unexpected findings.
It turns out that delight is expensive. Around 80% of leaders surveyed said the strategy of exceeding customer expectations cost 10% to 20% more in operational costs.
And in fact, there was virtually no difference between the loyalty of customers whose expectations were simply met, and those whose were exceeded. The findings showed that loyalty actually plateaued once customer expectations were met.
The real key to increasing customer loyalty
In most cases loyalty is not determined by Customer Satisfaction scores or by Net Promoter scores: it’s determined by the amount of effort customers go through to resolve a service issue. The less effort on the customers’ part, the better their experience, and their propensity to stay.
The key sources of effort that customers don’t like include:
- The need to contact a company more than once
- Being treated like a number, or what’s referred to as “generic” service
- Having to repeat information
It all boils down to how easy you make it for your customers to do business with you.
Plainly and simply, the more hoops you put your customers through, the more stress you’re putting them under, and this results in frustration and resentment.
Conversely, when getting help and resolution is effortless, they’ll reward you with their repeat business.
5 things you can do now to reduce customer effort
1 – Know conclusively how and why your customers seek help
Sounds simple, but many organisations have not mapped their customer journeys effectively to see where the bottlenecks and sources of frustration really are.
- How many customers call because they can’t find the answer on your FAQs or Support page? If you’ve had more than two or three phone calls about the same question, then update your website help.
- If you have webchat, how long do customers wait before being connected, how many abandon because of the wait, how many chat conversations are converted to support calls and why?
- When customers call, how many abandon before being connected to a live support person, and why? Is it the wait, a confusing IVR system, or your on-hold music?
2 – Keep your customers informed
Once your customer has ordered from you, don’t end the conversation there. Many people move on to something else straight away, and don’t remember when their new purchase is being delivered, or that they have to go to your website and download a form.
Be proactive by setting up an automated follow-up system using emails and SMS messages to confirm your discussion, and keep them informed. This will enhance their experience and significantly reduce their need to contact you again. Premier Contact Point’s fully hosted Mobile Customer Experience is ideal for this.
3 – Give your teams access to the customer and company information they need
A wonderful sales experience can very quickly turn sour when the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing, or when the post-sale experience is poor.
True Story: one of our staff recently purchased a suite of new furniture from a national retail chain. In-store, she was advised that the Thursday delivery date was set for 2 weeks’ time. Our team member got organised, sold her old furniture, and had it all removed a couple of days beforehand, arranging for someone to be home on the day to receive the new furniture. When she hadn’t received any follow up, she thought she’d better just check to make sure – so she rang Customer Service first thing on the Thursday morning to get an approximate time. Customer Service said they’d investigate, called her back to advise that some of the order was still in Customs, and rescheduled it for the following Thursday.
The next Thursday, when she still hadn’t heard a thing, and nothing had arrived by lunchtime, she phoned Customer Service, who once again had to follow up and get back to her, with the news that the depot didn’t deliver to her area on Thursdays, only on Fridays. By this point, she was ready to tear her hair out in frustration. Not only did our team member have to reschedule someone for the 3rd time to be at home to receive the furniture, and after living without her dining and living room furniture for a week, she also discovered for the first time since the sale three weeks ago that she was expected to assemble the dining room table herself.
Why wasn’t this information available to the store salesperson and to the Customer Service team? Why was there no post sale follow-up? When were they going to reveal that the expensive furniture required self-assembly? The excitement of purchasing the new furniture quickly turned sour and her perception of the company went from fabulous, to an absolute nightmare to deal with. The customer had to do all the chasing up, and her experience was seriously ruined by the post-sale steps in the customer journey.
This unfortunate situation could have been avoided
- if the customer service solution was integrated with their backend CRM and ERP system, and all team members were provided with access to the information they needed to perform their role;
- if the customer was advised up front about assembly requirements, and regularly kept informed of the delivery date and time;
- if each department was given training in how their role impacts the customer experience in the total customer journey.
4 – Anticipate customer needs
Every call from a customer is an opportunity. They’re calling because they have an immediate issue that needs resolving or question that needs answering. But will that be the end of it, or will they probably need to call again seeking further help around this topic?
For example: they’ve just ordered your insurance product. In 2 weeks or 6 weeks’ time they might need a Certificate of Insurance to provide to someone else – a client or a finance company – so why not ask that question when you have them on the phone, and email it through? Our clients use our Mobile Customer Experience solution to send callers an SMS link to their online account where they can download it.
79% of people under the age of 54 said they have a more favourable view of brands that offer a mobile-responsive customer service support portal. Microsoft
5 – Never make customers repeat themselves
The No. 1 customer frustration according to Harvard Business Review is the customer having to repeat themselves. Internal dysfunction, old CRM technologies, and lack of a customer-oriented culture all contribute to this, and it’s the first thing you need to resolve.
It starts with verification. While having a good verification process in place is essential for combating the growing incidence of fraud, it is easy to offer a robust, time-saving verification system that doesn’t need to be repeated if the call is transferred to another team member. This can be done with mobile verification before the call is connected, or with voice biometrics.
It continues when the customer is transferred. If the first team member needs to transfer the call to someone else, the customer shouldn’t have to explain their issue all over again. The transferer should have the courtesy to explain the issue to the second team member before transferring, and have the customer notes updated, ready for the second team member to view.
Using a modern contact centre solution that’s integrated with your CRM, makes it easy to transfer calls and update customer records on the go. Another great step to reducing customer effort.
How do you make your customers feel?
All of us have, without a doubt, suffered a bad customer experience (or three), and the one thing we remember is how frustrated and angry it made us. We felt that we weren’t valued as a customer, because the company did not treat us how we expected to be treated.
How you make your customers feel is what they’ll remember. The less effort you put them through, the happier they’ll be.
Having the right technology is essential. Old or limiting technology causes many of the frustrations that customers have with organisations. They don’t know that technology is hampering your team’s efforts. They just (quite rightly) want their right to good service to be fulfilled, and don’t expect or even want to be delighted.
Delivering service that meets customers’ basic expectations, without them expending a lot of effort, will make them feel that you really do appreciate them and value them. Achieve this consistently, and you’ll reap the golden prize of their loyalty.