October 03, 2014
Each time a contact center interacts with a customer, the primary goal (of course) is to answer the customer’s question or resolve a problem. While this should be goal number one, there is another, more subtle goal: build customer loyalty and ensure that individual keeps coming back. While some companies are competent at the first task, the second goal is much more challenging. “Keeping customers happy” doesn’t have a simple recipe or checklist to follow.
“Customers want an exceptional experience and will quickly switch to another company to get that experience,” wrote customer service consultant and author Lisa Ford . “Average and mediocre will be your ticket to customer loss. In a recent survey done by Forrester Research ( – ), 76 percent of executives said they want to differentiate with a customer experience. However the majority of the same executives state no clear strategy or budget have been created to support this goal.”
While there is no one-size-fits-all strategy for building loyalty among customers – that depends on your customer base and your business — there are some common themes.
Autonomy ( – ) for agents. No one likes to have a script read at them. Customers who believe that agents are unable to use any initiative to handle their problems won’t have a lot of confidence in the outcome. Front-line agents likely understand customers at least as well as the marketing department or the executive layer of the company. Allow them to use their brains to solve customer problems, and it’s likely that customer interactions will become more personalized…this is the hallmark of a good customer interaction. It will also help on the employee engagement front. No one wants to do the job of a mindless robot.
True multichannel integration. It’s been said a million and one times, but companies that don’t have true integration among multimedia channels aren’t going to be able to offer a quality customer experience.
“The best companies are diligently working at ‘marrying’ the information from the multiple channels that the customer accesses,” wrote Ford. “Don’t let one touch point be the reason they leave you. Customers have high expectations for a consistent experience across their choice of channel.”
Be proactive. With a little reflection (and some analytics and centralized databases), it’s possible to anticipate customer needs even before the customer knows what he or she needs. Reach out to customers via outbound phone calls or text messages when you know you can help them. Customers will feel that your organization “gets” them, and this is a strong vehicle for fostering customer loyalty.
It’s not enough to solve customer’s problems. A successful customer-facing organization values customers and shows this appreciation at every turn. A better understanding of the issues customers fact today – and taking action based on that understanding – will go a long way toward building that critical customer loyalty.