Customer Retention

A little empathy goes a long way...

‘Your call is very important to us…’

‘Is it?  Really? I’m pretty sure if it was that important to you, you’d answer it now’, she sighs and mutters under her breath whilst listening to yet another impersonal, mildly patronising on hold message for the zillionth time this week.

So what is it that irritates us so much about being on hold or sometimes seemingly lost in the depths of an IVR system?  These messages sublimate – and quite often infuriate – us, and all because they are missing one vital trick: empathy.

Empathy is not the same as sympathy – nobody ‘holding the line’ or waiting to hear what feels like an endless list of options needs sympathy.  But a little empathy goes a long way.

Empathy, in dictionary definition terms, ‘is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another’; the requirement for this from either a system of messages, or from a call handler, is self-explanatory really; know who you’re talking to, and gauge the messages or conversation accordingly.

Pre-recorded messages can only go so far to creating an empathetic tone; because of their nature they are not tailored to each individual caller, they have to ‘cover all bases’.  But if you’re operating a call centre, having empathetic call handlers could just be your key to success.  Your call handlers are talking to your customers in real-time, and if they have received comprehensive training, should be able to tailor the art of their conversation to correctly match the nature of the call.

If you really want your callers to believe their call is important to you, all you need is some investment in training and understanding how to convey empathy; often the opening few seconds after a call is answered are the most vital – get the callers’ back up, and you’ve lost them.

Empathy Statements

Take, for example, the following three statements:

  • ‘A member of our team will look into this for you’

  • ‘I will ask a member of the team to look into this for you as soon as possible’

  • ‘I will look into this for you today and let you know the outcome’

Adding that personal touch makes a huge difference; the first statement is completely anonymous, conveying the message that someone somewhere might get around to looking into the problem at some point – it doesn’t give a huge amount of faith to your customer that the issue will ever be resolved.

The second statement adds a little bit of a personal touch with ‘I’, however there is no immediacy in what’s being said – the ball is just getting passed into someone else’s court.

However the third statement has a personal guarantee that your call handler will be addressing the issue themselves, whether this be immediately whilst the caller is on the line, or as soon as the call has ended, and they will re-contact the caller with their findings.

The caller will feel at ease that their issue (however trivial it may seem to your company) is resolved by the actual human being they are speaking to, and will be resolved as soon as possible.

Think about the language used by your call handling team, and by the pre-recorded messages you have installed on your phone system…you may well find there is a more empathetic way to operate your company’s phone system.

For any advice, why not give us a call on 0161 850 3033 and we’ll see what we can do to help.

Personalisation is the key to an exceptional customer experience

We all know that happy customers are an important ingredient in the recipe for a successful business. Enviable customer service has been proven to lead to improved customer retention, loyalty and of course revenue. There’s something to be said for the standout employee who is always receiving high praise, but consistency is key and should be reflected across the board no matter who handles your call.

So how do you ensure that all your customers leave a call feeling like they’ve just spoken to your best employee?

The ‘Six Pillars’ of customer experience excellence, discussed in a recent report are;

  • Personalisation

  • Integrity

  • Time and effort

  • Expectations

  • Resolution

  • Empathy

All of these factors combined create one unique ‘story’ for a specific customer relating to their experiences with your company. The key is personalisation, it might seem like a small factor but wishing a customer a Happy Birthday if they call around that time and you have that information or providing your own recommendations about a product or service that your company offers makes a customer feel you’ve gone the extra mile.

There’s nothing worse than having to repeatedly call a company for the same reason only to find that none of the previous conversations you’ve had with other agents are recorded in any way. Is there a way that your agents can record and access this information?

  • Know your customer

  • What did they purchase or what are they interested in based on past interaction?

  • Know why this customer may be contacting you

  • Know what the customer may want based on previous interactions

All of this information can be used by your agent to better interpret or assist with the customer’s needs, create a better B2C relationship, help shape future interactions with the customer for other agents, increase the likelihood that your customer will leave the call feeling positive about the level of personalisation and thus be more likely to recommend you.

Like it or not we’re all suckers for a compliment, make your customers feel special, respected, that their time is like gold dust and you are a heaven-sent customer service angel ready to wow them with your professional, yet approachable nature. It’s human nature to feel just a little self-obsessed from time to time so why shouldn’t we indulge ourselves with a bit of flattery every now and again?

KMPG Nunwood found in their report that personalisation had “the most significant impact on advocacy and loyalty.”

The report looks at how as business you will likely have looked at metrics and targeted customers based on their individual behaviour yet when we put ourselves into the customer’s shoes this changes your whole strategy, your focus should be on how your agents and company respond to your customer’s needs as this is a crucial element in developing and improving their experience.

How can you include personalisation in your customer service?

  • Friendly and warm greetings

  • Use of the customer’s name

  • Know your customer’s history

  • Patience and empathy with the customer

  • Personalising and recommending products and services

  • Listen to your customer and ask questions

If you’re ready to start making customers feel that their relationship with your company is one worth maintaining, then you need to ensure that there’s consistency, this means putting in the time and effort! If you’re not quite sure where to start why not speak to us about how we can help improve your customer experience, we know our stuff!

How Is Your Customer Experience?

At the weekend, I visited a local shop. There was a counter assistant I’d not seen before and in the two minutes that she served me she made so many mistakes, none of them were to do with the till or scanning the products but they were all relating to customer service.

Here’s what didn’t happen:

  • She didn’t say hello

  • She didn’t tell me how much I owed

  • She didn’t offer me a bag

  • She didn’t tell me how much change I was due

  • She didn’t say thank you or goodbye, which in turn made me not say thank you or goodbye

Instead, once I left I told three people how rude I thought she was and how I was surprised that she’d been offered a job there. They were very small things but it was the amount of small things that were not done that frustrated me, those aspects in isolation could be forgiven if forgotten, however all contribute to an experience overall.

How you make a customer feel is one of, if not the most important factor for a customer when they choose to buy from a brand.

A recently study by JitBit has identified just how much poor customer service and experience is damaging your profits.

Angry customers – like me – are ‘silent assassins’ with a reported 95% of us sharing a story about a bad experience with a company, with 48% of us telling ten or more people about it. Now, had the lady in the shop realised what she’d not done I’m sure she would have done everything to put it right but as Business Training Works CEO Kate Zabriskie says:

“the customer’s perception is your reality”.

What else did the report discover about how detrimental bad customer service is? Get ready for some hard-hitting stats that will make you want to call an emergency review of your customer service pronto.

It takes 12 positive experiences to make up for a negative one. I need to visit that shop a further 12 times and have positive experiences each time to make up for two minutes of poor customer service. You can see how difficult it’d be to retain a customer if this happened repeatedly.

86% of people will not purchase from a business which has negative reviews.

Why are your customers going elsewhere?

There’s a few reasons but a lot are to do with staff incompetency, demeanour or waiting times.

  • 42% switched to a competitor because staff were rude

  • 29% switched because of poorly trained staff

  • 25% were kept on hold for too long – we can help with Call Queuing Messages

These next few show just how little time you have, to impress a customer or put a bad experience right.

  • 51% of customers will only try to reach support once

  • 78% will bail on a transaction because of a poor experience, whether that be a website issue or poorly handled sales call.

We hate to break it to you but the customer is always right, as a business, you probably think the service you provide is top notch. 80% of companies believe that they deliver superior customer service, however in the customer’s eyes they are way off, with a meagre 8% of customers believing that companies DO deliver superior customer service and only 1% of customers believing that this is consistent.

What do you need to do?

Well you’ve got just over three years (according to the study) until customer experience “overtakes price and product as the key brand differentiator” and retaining your existing customers is a good place to begin, since it’s nearly 7 times more expensive to replace a customer than it is to keep a current one.

Why not get in touch with us to see if there’s anything we can do to advise on your customer service?

Are you investing enough in your customer service?

It might be time to take a leaf out of the big gun’s book, after earlier in the week Vodafone pledged to invest £2 Billion into their customer service over the next two years. OK, so maybe it’s not feasible for your company to do this on the same scale but it’s time to think about how you look after your customers and those you employ to carry out that role.

In Vodafone’s case, the refreshed outlook on customer service follows a damning report by Ofcom in 2016, highlighting issues with the company’s billing system and the way they handed customer’s complaints. The company previously routed a substantial amount of its calls to centres based in South Africa and India, increasing customers’ frustrations but since the report they have looked at re-shoring their contact centres.

Vodafone are increasing their in-shore call centre roles, with 2,100 new jobs in locations around the UK including areas of Wales, the Midlands and Scotland as well as almost half the new roles being allocated to the company’s Manchester call centre.

Mobile network EE was supposedly the first operator to bring their calls back to the UK in 2014 after previously using off-shore call centres. Other giants are following suit, with EE’s parent company BT also choosing to reduce outsourced call centre roles and bring these back to the UK and Ireland, hiring around 1500 new call centre employees.

With this in mind, why is it so important to a customer that the support they speak to someone UK based? A survey carried out by Which? found that call centres, in particular those not based in the UK were the nation’s biggest pet peeve in 2015. This all boils down to customer service, a dislike of automated phone systems, being passed around from person to person and likely feeling that your call isn’t as important if it’s been directed to the other side of the world.

“Overseas call centres soon sparked a consumer backlash spurred on by difficulties associated with language barriers and the concern that jobs were being taken away from the UK.”

The cost of operating a call centre overseas is comparably cheaper to employing UK based contact centre operators, it seems some companies are prepared to save money at whatever cost, even if this means reduced customer satisfaction. Yet as we’ve discussed, the importance of customer satisfaction is being recognised and having UK based staff to deal with customer queries and support is almost a marketing tool now!

A 2016 consumer survey found that:

86% of customers would pay up to 25% more for better customer service

Are you focusing enough on training agents to handle calls?

Could your customers be better directed through your automated system?

Are you investing enough in your customer service?

If you’re unsure about any of those questions then it’s time to see how IVR-Recordings can help!