Call Center Best Practices: 4 Things You Need to Know About Customer Loyalty
[Estimated read time: 4 minutes]
Did you know it costs at least five times more to acquire a new customer than to keep a current one? Successful companies are re-focusing their customer experience strategy on retention, and they’re turning to call center management to lead the charge.
In the past, agents were seen as a reactive service that existed solely to answer and resolve consumer problems as they were brought to light. Now they play a critical role in a company’s success or failure. Call center best practices show that satisfying a customer by resolving their problem isn’t enough – you need to delight them by building a relationship and not just saying you value them – but proving it. When you do that, you drive brand loyalty.
Here are four things you need to know to increase customer loyalty:
1. Don’t underestimate the power of word of mouth
Consumers have always been influenced by word of mouth, but with today’s widespread social media usage and the increasing availability of online peer reviews, they are being exposed to it more than ever before.
An average of 66% of consumers read reviews on social media, and 88% are influenced by online customer service reviews. At the same time, 54% of customers share bad experiences with at least five people, while only 33% share good experiences. When you add that all up, it’s easy to see that loyal, happy customers are one of your company’s biggest assets.
2. Prioritize relationships, not just resolutions
When contact centers provide a customer-focused experience (see our previous call center management best practices post), they contribute a valuable piece of the puzzle that’s been missing for many companies: relationship marketing. The goal of relationship marketing is to engage current customers and increase retention. But when it’s done well, it can increase acquisition too, by creating brand advocates who drive positive word of mouth.
Agents are uniquely positioned for the job of relationship marketing because their job is human interaction. According to current contact center best practices, agents should use those interactions as opportunities to build emotional connections. Customer satisfaction occurs when a problem is resolved, but loyalty takes more than that – it only occurs when an agent takes the time to make the customer feel important and valued.
3. Take advantage of technology
Dimension Data reports that consumers under 40 prefer to use social media or web chat to contact customer service, and that digital will overtake voice-based interactions within two years. It sounds counter-intuitive, but contact center best practices find that technology can lead to higher caliber interactions and increased customer loyalty.
How? Through personalization. A report from Walker Information envisions customer expectations in 2020: “They will expect companies to know their individual needs and personalize the experience. Immediate resolution will not be fast enough as customers will expect companies to proactively address their current and future needs.”
With a smart call center CRM, agents have the information and context they need to provide seamless personalized experiences without additional work. They can focus on their top priority – building relationships to create loyal customers and brand advocates.
4. Empower your employees to humanize your brand
To encourage the emotional connections needed for successful relationship marketing, you must create the right culture by hiring the best people, training them well, and fostering employee engagement.
To find employees with relationship-building skills, call center management expert Carolyn Blunt recommends using a structured assessment during the interview process. Then keep your team motivated by measuring and rewarding the right aspects of performance. Instead of evaluating employees based on quantitative stats like call length and service level, try incorporating speech analytics and customer feedback.
A Gallup study found that a company’s customer ratings improve as its level of employee engagement increases. And Bain & Company has found that employee attitude is one of the most important aspects in customer satisfaction. Customer experience strategies such as providing opportunities for socialization and giving agents more decision-making power can help them become more engaged and fulfilled. A Forrester study encourages call centers to show agents the value of their efforts and to give them resources to gain new job-related skills.
Finally, make sure you’re leading by example. If you want your agents to go above and beyond for customers, you need to do so too. Demonstrate your commitment by empowering them to use their discretion when interacting with customers.
Learn more about how Astute Solutions’ CRM technology can help you and your agents provide personalized service, build loyalty, and improve customer experience management.