Customer Service Tips to Engage and Retain Customers
For retailers, customer loyalty and creating a high customer lifetime value are critical, especially when it comes to maximizing revenue. Retaining customers, however, is challenging. It's about more than just the quality of your products and an aggressive pricing strategy, for example.
Indeed, a recent American Express study found that 73 percent of customers are willing to pay more if doing so guarantees that they will have a good experience. This finding demonstrates the value of excellent customer service. Here are four customer service tips to help you engage and retain your customers:
1. Ask for customer feedback.
When it comes to retaining customers, one of the most important starting points is gaining an understanding of why people are leaving. To do this, rather than relying on guesswork, actively seek feedback from your customers on social media, through review websites and via questionnaires that you send them.
"Always leave room for your customers to make suggestions … and always offer some kind of incentive for participating," said Mike Bal, director of social media and content at digital agency Single Grain, writing for Kissmetrics, a behavioral analytics and engagement platform provider. "It will make a huge difference in the number of people who actually participate."
2. Be clear about your brand values.
Next, it's important to convey brand values through your customer service. In fact, according to the Harvard Business Review, 23 percent of consumers consider themselves to have a relationship with a brand. Of those people, 64 percent cite shared values as the single biggest reason for the relationship.
This means your business needs to stand for something more than making money by selling products. What you stand for needs to be communicated by your staff. They may be able to achieve this in person, through social media posts, or when replying to customers via email or over the phone, but it relies on your staff "buying in" to your values, too.
3. Create a frictionless experience.
Zach Goldstein, CEO and founder of Thanx, a loyalty app provider, believes that reducing friction is an essential part of retaining customers. Goldstein points out that customers especially hate needlessly long or complicated checkout processes. As a result, he advises removing as many checkout hurdles as possible.
With that being said, your customer service training should also be geared towards reducing hold times on the phone and cutting the amount of time it takes for reps on the shop floor to successfully tackle a problem. This means prioritizing product knowledge and effective communication between reps and even between departments.
4. Speak to customers like people.
Finally, every single one of your customers is an individual, and they expect and deserve to be treated like one. Despite this, client research from ContactPoint, an online community for career development professionals, suggests that employees only actually ask for a customer's name 21 percent of the time. That means that more than three out of four customers remain anonymous.
This is an incredibly simple thing to fix through a customer service training program. Place an emphasis on personalization, treat each customer like an individual, and tailor your customer service so that each customer gets the best possible experience.
Monika Götzmann is the EMEA marketing director of Miller Heiman Group, a sales training, customer service training and customer experience strategy provider.