CSP Happenings

Tagged: retention

Customer Experience After the Sale: Are You Missing These Opportunities?

February 3, 2016

Google introduced the idea of the Zero Moment of Truth back in 2011, and has invested a lot of effort into getting companies to buy into it. The idea is that the pre-purchase phase of the customer journey, in which a customer researches, comparison-shops, asks for recommendations, and reads reviews, is essentially a countdown to moment Zero. That’s when the customer pulls the trigger and makes a purchase decision. 

We’re not claiming that Google is wrong. The Decision Point is inarguably one of the key destinations on the customer journey. But is this really where the journey ends? Hardly. In fact, it is a pivot point: the countdown becomes a “count-up,” comprised of every touchpoint that happens after the sale. What we’re counting up to: customer loyalty, satisfaction, and eventually, ideally, ambassadorship. In other words, retention.

As it stands, though, most businesses invest far more effort into customer acquisition than retention, doubling down on the notion that their job is essentially done when a prospect becomes a customer. Not only is this short-sighted, study after study has shown that acquisition is more expensive than retention and relationship marketing. (In fact, we couldn’t locate even one that argued the opposite.) The article by eConsultancy linked to above also included some head-turning statistics on this phenomenon:

  • Attracting a new customer costs five times as much as keeping an existing one.
  • Globally, the average value of a lost customer is $243.
  • 71% of consumers have ended their relationship with a company due to poor customer service. 
  • The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 – 70%. The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20%.
Shifting Focus: How to Extend the Customer Experience Past Purchase

Customer experience fact - 71% of consumers have ended their relationship with a company due to poor customer service Source KISSMetricsMake memorable post-purchase moments.
For instance, take a look at your onboarding materials, like “Thank You” pages and auto-generated emails when a customer creates an account on your site. Do they just say Thank You, or do they invite further opportunities to engage with your brand, tips for using your product or service, or incentives like coupons or discount codes? Any touchpoint that can be automated can also be enhanced to build the relationship.

Be helpful, even when there isn’t a problem.
Periodically check in with your customer to ask how things are going and if they have any questions. There could easily be something confusing or bothering them that they either don’t think is a big enough deal to bother you with, or haven’t gotten around to contacting you about yet. Here again, automation can help: reminders, thank-you’s, and Frequently Asked Questions guides can be scheduled at intervals in advance.

Pay attention to the details.
Nothing makes a customer raise an eyebrow like businesses that can talk about their product till the cows come home, yet don’t seem to understand its actual role in day-to-day life, as if they’ve never used it themselves. Imagine how your customer uses or experiences your product or service at home, after hours – not just the obvious, as-prescribed applications, but how it is related to their overall life and priorities.  

Leverage your social & direct marketing channels.
This may be the only area where the acquisition/retention formula gets turned on its head: acquiring followers and subscribers is cheap, but engaging them is where the real effort comes in. Not only do customers treat social media and emails as additional customer service channels (and expect you to meet them there), they assume they will get something in return for following you, such as exclusive offers, informative videos and graphics, or even shareable entertainment.

Listen to the Voice of the Customer.
You had to know this was coming, right? At CSP, we believe that Voice of the Customer tools and measurements are the lifeblood of a healthy customer experience. Relationships, after all, work both ways, so successful customer relationship management means handing the microphone over to the customer to make sure they have their chance to tell you what is working for them and what’s getting in their way.

The Takeaway

Customer experience that treats the sale as the endpoint is an unclosed circle: all the brand equity, sentiment, and trust you nurtured to encourage the sale, are liable to leak out through this gap. Selling to existing customers is easier than converting new ones. It is worth your while to envision the customer journey as a lifetime relationship, not a finite transaction.

When It Comes to Customer Loyalty, Think Little

February 11, 2015

customer loyalty measurementIt’s a customer experience manager’s job to keep an eye on the big picture of satisfaction: the various programs in place, the ever-updating customer data and information, and the overall strategies to attract and retain customer loyalty.

But when any given customer walks through your doors, calls up your customer service, or engages with you online, what they’ll notice is all the little things your business does to make the customer experience better.

And when those customers talk to their friends and family, they won’t be waxing poetic about strategy and data, or using words like attrition and retention. Instead, they’ll be highlighting all those little things they’ve noticed as compelling reasons to choose your business.

Think of it like this: you can buy your spouse the most expensive gifts, lavish them with compliments, and profess your undying love with a big romantic gesture, but it’s the little day-to-day effort and attention that keep the romance alive and serve as proof of how much you value them.

You can probably think of a few little things your preferred businesses and brands have done to earn your repeat business. Here are some examples of small but significant actions your business and staff can take to drive customer loyalty:

  • Adopt an attentive attitude.
    It doesn’t matter how stressed, fatigued, bored, or otherwise distracted a customer service representative may be – a genuinely friendly greeting and undivided attention go a long way in making the customer feel valued. If the rep has to interact with a computer or device to provide service, eye contact becomes even more important to reassuring the customer that they have your attention. No customer likes being made to feel like an inconvenience.
  • Be prompt and personal.
    Customer service requests come in from all directions – in-person, by phone, by e-mail, by web form or chat service, and even via social media. Customers expect you to reply promptly on all of these channels. An automatically-generated “We have received your request and will get back to you shortly” message is the digital equivalent of being put on hold, but even that is better than a customer sending an email into a black hole “[email protected]” inbox and never getting a reply.
  • whale-311478_640Surprise them.
    The previous two items on this list represent customers’ baseline expectations of service, but to really earn points with them, go above and beyond the basics. At one hotel, a customer called to reserve a room for a visit during which she’d be undergoing cancer treatment, and mentioned in passing that she’d always wanted to go whale watching. Imagine her surprise and delight to find a stuffed whale on her bed at check-in!
  • Give ground.
    A customer who brings an issue, complaint, or concern to a rep’s attention wants to walk away feeling like they’ve won, even if the concession is small. This might mean issuing a discount or coupon, cutting a unique deal or waiving a fee, or delivering a heartfelt and personal apology if the issue simply can’t be addressed or was unavoidable. These gestures show customers that you care about keeping their business and will do what it takes to stay in their good graces.
  • Make every customer feel like a regular.
    Through customer data, you likely know who your most and least valuable customers are. But the customers themselves want to feel equally valued from the outset, rather than feeling they have to earn your attention and care. First-class or coach, regular, intermittent, or first-time customer, “rewards” member or not, they deserve the best service you have to offer.

Remember, customer loyalty starts at home, within your own walls. It’s hard to create a memorable experience that influences customer loyalty without a company culture that supports it with engaged, enthusiastic employees. Give them a scratch behind the ears, too, while you’re at it, and watch the goodwill spread to your customers.

How do you know what’s working? Listen to the Voice of the Customer. The open-ended options on customer feedback tools are the perfect place to look for comments on these little things that customers appreciate (or find lacking). A strategic VoC program empowers you with knowledge of the key drivers of customer loyalty and satisfaction.