If a customer has selected you from among the many competitive products and services available to them, then congratulations are in order. But your work isn’t over yet.
Customers today are more empowered than ever. With so much technology at hand, a plethora of services to choose from and so many channels through which they can interact, your customers are more likely than ever to churn if they become dissatisfied with your service.
What do contact centers have to do with building long-term loyalty and garnering repeat business? Beyond just transactional encounters, the contact center experience is increasingly recognized as an epicenter in the customer journey and essential to achieving brand loyalty.
We’re all familiar with businesses that focus primarily on the acquisition of new customers at the expense of keeping their existing customer base happy. Who hasn’t felt a bit miffed when your cell phone provider advertises promotional deals or free giveaways for new customers only? Given that it costs somewhere between 4 and 10 times more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one (or even higher per some sources), this is clearly not a great strategy.
So how can your contact center improve retention rates? It's inextricably linked to customer service and the ability to provide customers with a positive interaction. West examined customer expectations across the buying cycle and it was clear that the contact center plays a pivotal role when it comes to the customer experience. With a survey pool of 1000 respondents, we learned the simplest and most common mistakes were very likely to lead a customer to ditch you for a competitor.
Avoid the Shuffle and Get Customers Where They Need to Go (Quickly)
Over 73% of those surveyed said they would be likely to switch suppliers if they were passed around between multiple agents. Another 71% cited that the agent not understanding their inquiry would lead them to consider switching to a competitor. It's essential to get your customer to the right agent in the shortest possible time. All too often this is not the fault of the agent; it comes down to the contact center system not being up to snuff.
It's essential that the contact center system is integrated into the CRM. This provides agents with easy access to the customer's details with a full and clear history of interactions across all channels. It's simple enough yet surprising how many businesses fail on this score.
Intelligent, skills-based routing also plays an important role. And there are numerous tactics businesses can employ to better the customer experience in this regard. Consider the following:
- Intelligent Call Routing: Route calls based on skills, languages, product knowledge, etc.
- Proactive Call Routing: Use a data look up to identify a customer and make routing decisions based on information that you know about them (either based on phone number, account number or other information they can input when calling in)
- Identify Valuable Customers: Flag your priority or VIP customers and route appropriately
- Keep Points of Contact: Route customer calls to the last agent that they dealt with to prevent the customer having to repeat themselves
It's also vital to keep hold times short. If there are peak busy times in your contact center, offer a call back service or a virtual placeholder rather than keeping customers on the line. Our research shows two in three people will consider switching if they are kept on hold for longer than they expect or if they are forced to wait in a queue without a call back option.
Don’t Forget to Give Your Customers a Voice
Finally, make sure that customers are given the opportunity to provide feedback on the service that they have received. Even if feedback is negative, it can still yield an opportunity to sell. Follow up with customers who have left negative feedback you’re likely to find they appreciate the acknowledgement and will not only be more likely to do business with you again, but even refer others to your business.
To learn more about West’s research into encouraging repeat business via the contact center, read “Converting Customer Service into Revenue” and get more study insights and tips.
A version of this article originally appeared on NoJitter.com.