The customer support experience is about more than just doing business. It’s about relationships.
People have a natural tendency to gravitate toward people and companies they have good relationships with, and they tend to stay away from people and companies they don’t like as much. For relationships that are “just okay,” people tend to embrace the attitude, “I can take it or leave it”. When relationships become too hard or too one-sided, it’s often easier to just leave them behind.
A personalized customer support experience leaves your customers feeling happy and glad they did business with you. They won’t think twice about calling again.
What’s the formula for creating a personalized customer support experience? It’s knowing the elements of personalized service, building a strategy around it, and measuring your results.
Why Personalize the Customer Support Experience?
How do we define a personalized customer support experience? Author and business guru Seth Godin defines personalization this way:
“Personalization wasn’t supposed to be a cleverly veiled way to chase prospects around the web, showing them the same spammy ad for the same lame stuff as everyone else sees. No, it is a chance to differentiate at a human scale, to use behavior as the most important clue about what people want and more important, what they need.”
To create stronger business relationships with customers, you have to make them feel like they’re a person rather than one of thousands of other customers. When you set up workflows that are designed to recognize your customers personally on a consistent basis, it forms the basis for trust and confidence that ultimately translates to brand loyalty and brand advocacy.
When trust and confidence are lacking, you have to try harder to retain their business. It’s more efficient and productive to deliver a good customer support experience on the front end.
The Benefits of Personalizing the Customer Support Experience
Customer relationships take time and nurturing to make them strong. Your sales funnel gives you multiple places where you can implement strategies to nurture leads. By personalizing the customer experience, you’ll gain the following 5 benefits:
- Personal service builds trust in your brand and keeps customers coming back for more. Customers want to do business with companies that have products, services, and customer service they can count on and enjoy. The Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: Brand Trust in 2020 says 53% of respondents stated that trust was the second most important factor in purchasing a new brand. Trust was second to price.
- A personal customer experience motivates customers that have expressed interest in your products or services to move along your sales funnel. In his book, “How Customers Think: Essential Insights into the Mind of the Market”, author and Harvard professor Gerald Zaltman says that 95% of purchase decisions are unconscious.
- Personalization increases customer engagement and leads to conversions. It’s easier to engage customers when you offer up the types of products they’ve already expressed interest in. It eliminates the need for them to spend time shopping around or digging for information on products they like. An Experian study showed that companies that personalized their email campaigns benefitted by six times higher transaction rates and revenue per email than generic emails.
- Personalized marketing campaigns improve retention rates. Current customers are high-quality leads. If they bought once, they’ll buy again, as long as they had a personal and positive experience with your brand.
- Customers that come to you as referrals bring a sense of loyalty with them. Wharton and Goethe did a study that showed that 16% of referral customers have long-term brand loyalty. A Nielsen study reports referrals are the most credible type of advertising.
Identify the Elements of the Customer Support Experience
Getting back to Godin’s quote on the definition of a personalized customer experience, we can use customer behavior to get clues about what customers want and need. If we look at the 2016 Customer Engagement Index, 86% of customers pointed to the following three elements that make for a great customer service experience:
- Know the customer intent – With every order, you have a chance to collect data and get to know your customers better.
- Offer easy self-service – Customers like IVRs and other self-service options when they’re intuitive and easy to use. The Index showed that a third of millennials preferred optimal self-service over speaking with a call agent on the phone. The key word here is optimal.
- Meet shoppers where they are – Today’s customers have choices about their preferred communication channels and devices. They want you to meet them where they’re at.
Beyond taking the time to better understand the elements of the customer support experience, the report describes the following characteristics of customer behavior and buying habits:
- Customers are likely to switch communications and/or devices along the customer journey.
- While many generations prefer phone contact, they don’t like being trapped in an IVR system.
- Cable/satellite providers, retail banks, and retailers were the main industries that reported customer churn over poor customer support experiences. Customers would happily head to a competitor if the pricing was the same.
- Customers like self-service options as long as they’re predictive and useful.
- Younger generations in particular favor mobile interactions.
- Most customers don’t mind sharing data as long as it serves a purpose.
Building Your Customer Experience Strategy
Customer expectations are high, and if you’re not meeting them well, it’s time to take a vicarious walk through your customer’s journey and view it from their perspective. This process will tell you what’s working and help you identify areas where you can make adjustments in call flows to fine-tune the customer experience.
Start building your customer experience strategy by detailing your customers’ journey as they go through these stages:
- Marketing – What communication channels are you using to advertise your products and services? Are customers receptive to them? Are they generating leads?
- Warm leads – At what point are customers beginning to engage with your company and its employees?
- Initial interactions after expressing interest – Are customers contacting you via contact forms, phone, email, chat, or text?
- Conversions – Are warm leads converting to sales? How is this happening?
- Follow-up after sales – What are the touch points after a sale? Automated surveys for customer satisfaction? Follow up phone call? Email automation? Are these efforts strengthening the customer relationship?
At any point in the cycle, you should be able to gauge the customer’s temperature relative to the customer experience. If the feedback is anything less than excellent in any of these stages, you’ve found a place to make some improvements.
Ask yourself a few questions:
- Are customers floundering through your IVR system?
- Do your call center agents need additional training?
- Are most problems getting resolved on the first call?
- Are customers waiting on hold too long?
- Do you know which communication channels customers are using?
- Are your contact centers mobile-friendly for customers?
The answers to these questions should lead you to some actionable activities to improve the customer experience. Use your call center analytics to measure the results after you make improvements.
How to Personalize the Customer Support Experience
The internet opens up a world of choices for your customers to buy products and services. A good customer experience helps your company stand out as the most-preferred company to do business with.
The following tips will help you to build a personalized framework that supports a superb customer experience before and after sales.
- Create a customer-centric vision statement based on the needs that customers express from feedback.
- Use caller ID to learn their names and use them in conversation.
- Train call agents to be customer-facing and responsive. Conversations should be natural, not robotic or overly scripted.
- Use self-service software solutions like IVR and knowledge bases but be careful not to frustrate customers with workflows that are inefficient or unhelpful.
- Use multiple communication channels like chat, email, and text in addition to phone support. According to the Index that we previously mentioned, 95% of customers said they usually used three or more communication channels to resolve a single customer service problem, and 82% of customers said they often used up to five channels.
- Add as many details in your CRM system as possible to create highly personalized profiles. If Susan goes by Susie, make a note on the screen and call her that. If your business is a pet store, record the names, ages, and breeds of their dogs so call agents can mention it when speaking with customers.
- Get customer feedback using automated surveys and act on any problem areas.
- Collaborate with your call agents for feedback on their end. They may be dealing with a lot of the same issues and they may be getting a lot of the same positive feedback too.
- If you need a particular type of expertise, it may be worthwhile to set up distributed teams, so you’re not limited to using talent in a certain geographical area.
- Use your CRM system to identify opportunities for cross-selling, upselling, add-ons, and referrals.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to providing good customer service. It’s really all about ensuring that your call center agents are putting their best foot forward and they’re pulling out all the stops to treat people as the valued customers they are.
The goal of customer retention programs is to keep customers happy and inspire brand loyalty. When you focus on the customer experience, you’re working to retain customers from the very first contact throughout the life of your relationship. There are a host of ways to personalize your customer experience program to enhance your retention efforts.
Here are some suggestions for things you can implement:
- Use active listening skills to better understand customer concerns.
- Speak to customers in terms they understand. Don’t be overly technical or use unfamiliar industry terms.
- Be proactive in anticipating their needs and offer solutions or products.
- Do your best to exceed their expectations.
- Be empathetic with customers that are unhappy or frustrated.
- Offer discounts, coupons, or refunds when appropriate to appease an unhappy customer.
- Following up with them in the timeframe you promised.
- Imagine the response that you’d be looking for if you were in their shoes.
Measuring ROI on Personalization for Customer Loyalty
The most helpful data for analyzing your ROI relative to customer loyalty is measurable data. But, how do you get measurable data?
Most likely, your data is siloed in several different programs and that means you have to pull up data from multiple software programs and try to consolidate it into meaningful results. It’s a painstaking, time-consuming process that you’ll need to go through every time you introduce a new product, start a new marketing campaign, or host an event.
That’s where an Aircall cloud phone system can be a huge asset for you. Not only do we give you a robust set of phone system features, but our system also integrates with CRM platforms and other programs in the Aircall App Marketplace to give you the analytics you need within a single source of data. Aircall makes it possible for you to calculate ROI based on customer loyalty with data based on:
- Call volume
- Call length
- Percent of missed calls and voicemails
- Average wait times
- Average number of calls per call agent
Our system also gives you the ability to apply filters to narrow down your search criteria even further. When your reports are set up, you can easily export the data to have a hard copy to evaluate it.
A modern phone system and software solutions work together to help your call center agents deliver a good customer experience and give you the proper metrics to evaluate whether your customer experience strategies are successful. When you’re successful in creating a good customer experience, it’s a win-win for your customers and your business.