By Karen McFarlane, VP of Marketing (Americas)
As you start implementing your 2016 plans, don’t forget that you already have a powerful marketing tool at your disposal that you need to consistently nurture – your customers. They are your single most important marketing tool and no amount of money can equal their impact. With customer service being called the new marketing, it’s imperative that organizations not only understand how customers currently engage with their brand, but also how customers want to engage going forward. To help you with this thought process, I propose five New Year’s Resolutions to add to your list.
- Treat existing customers like gold: It’s harder to acquire a new customer than it is to keep and upsell an existing one. You’ve heard that before, but have you crunched the numbers? Calculate your cost per acquisition (CAC) and compare it to your retention numbers including churn and lifetime value (LTV) to determine the true value of your customer. Once you’ve figured that out, make sure you dedicate the time, resources and dollars to support that value. In turn, you’ll create happy customers who will remain loyal, become brand ambassadors and refer new customers.
- Empower your live agents: Live agents are often the first point of human contact for new and existing customers. When customers contact you, they want swift and helpful resolution. Therefore, you must develop a “customer-first” philosophy that is backed by your mission, vision and internal processes. Think about the tools and resources you can provide live agents to help increase their productivity and ability to achieve first contact resolution for every customer. And be specific. Let them know what kinds of decisions they can make on their own before having to escalate to a supervisor. To start, review your transcripts and find common problems that can be solved quickly through a live agent without the help of a supervisor, and break out the ones that can be handled through self-service tools.
- Know your customers: Customers don’t really want to talk to you, especially Millennials. Shocking, but true. They are more apt to seek answers for themselves turning to social media, forums, FAQs – anything they can get their hands on without having to wait in the dreaded queue. Think about how you can make more information available on-demand. Tools like live chat and intelligent virtual assistants help them sift through the clutter. Also, be sure you can provide self-service options on multiple devices. People are on-the-go and don’t want to be slowed down by unresponsive designs or apps that don’t provide real value.
- Enhance your existing tools. Dive into the data and be honest about your hits and misses. Whatever you’re doing well, make it better. Whatever you’re not doing well, ditch it or make it better. But be careful not to get bogged down by data. Going back to #3, take into consideration what your customers really want. So while your call center may be ringing off the hook, that doesn’t necessarily mean that customers want to talk to you; it could simply mean that they couldn’t find what they are looking for. Read between the lines, look for gaps and fill them.
- Embrace new technology. Automation is your friend and technology is getting better every day at solving our most insurmountable challenges. Intelligent virtual agents are able to talk to thousands of customers at the same time in any language and on every channel. There is no way you could have facilitated this a few years ago. Most of all, don’t be afraid to combine technologies to create even better experiences like live chat and IVAs. Dare to be creative. It doesn’t hurt to try.