Value Existing Customers As Much As New Customers
For a business, new customers are the lifeblood. Companies spend a lot of time attracting and acquiring new customers, often luring them with introductory specials and discounts. Marketing and advertising are often crafted with new customers in mind, and contact center agents are trained to spend their time and energy attracting new customers.
It’s important to remember, however, that existing customers are the bread (if not the butter) of any business. Existing customers can feel they’re given short-shrift over new customers. (“What do you mean, the introductory price isn’t for me?”) Agents need to remember that keeping existing customers is just as important. Without the ability to offer new customer pricing, agents need to keep existing customers with a great experience.
In a recent interview with The Gilmer Mirror, Mechele Mills of the Better Business Bureau for East Texas wrote that companies should follow two basic rules: treat your customers as you would want to be treated, and train your employees how to do the same.
“Creating a successful business goes far beyond moving product or providing a service”, said Mills. “Companies who master the art providing an excellent experience for their customers will find it much easier to create a loyal following.”
What are some of the ways that companies can do this? By taking the time to ensure that the customer experience is easy and rewarding for existing customers. For starters, it’s about hiring the right people. Apathetic agents will not make customers feel special, nor will agents who don’t seem to be able to answer questions with a high degree of confidence. You should also ensure that your workforce management is up to the job of ensuring that the right agents are available in the right channels at the right times.
“Develop training programs which will make your employees knowledgeable on all aspects of your services and products,” according to the Gilmer Mirror. “Nothing impresses customers more than realizing a company’s employees are knowledgeable and competent.”
From here, helping customers feel valued can be helped along by personalization. Have agents ask customers what they need, what they want, and how they can best help them. Don’t waste time making offers that you know the customer won’t be interested in (their customer histories will provide a clue), and take cues from their previous transactions.
“Customer comments are an excellent way to know which changes will be most productive in enhancing a shopper’s experience,” according to the article. “Asking for feedback allows your customers to know you care about making sure they have the best experience possible.”
Finally, if the company does make a mistake, have the agent acknowledge it and not only compensate for it, but overcompensate. All companies make mistakes sometimes, but how you acknowledge it and make up for it is what really counts.
“Going the extra mile to correct mistakes can make a huge difference in a positive way,” according to the article. “A customer who has no complaints with a company has a 38 percent chance of being a loyal patron. However, that number increases to 95 percent if they have a complaint which is resolved quickly.”
When it comes to the customer experience, company owners, managers and supervisors aren’t the experts. Customers and the agents who directly serve them will know more than any focus group, research report or executive summary ever could. Be sure to listen to the people who live at ground zero of the customer experience.
Edited by Alicia Young