From Walter Long, RevGuard Senior VP – Biz Dev
We are a self-serving and on-demand society. We use an ATM instead of speaking to a bank teller in a bank. We go online to book airfare as opposed to calling a representative. We use iPads for ordering food and drink as opposed to speaking with wait staff. When we want something, we want it right away on our terms. Your customers are the same way.
The premise is simple: provide your customers an efficient and effective way to interact with your company that is easily accessible and you will be rewarded with happy customers, a positive reputation, more revenue and lower costs.
Merchants have responded by providing outlets for customers to manage their seemingly never-ending communication channels: phone, web, email, social media, chat, and SMS to name a few. The challenge is to provide the best technology and coverage of these channels to respond effectively to customer inquiries.
Interactive technology components, such as an Interactive Voice Responder (IVR), website form, auto-response email and artificial intelligence chat exist. However, what enhancements will make a customer’s experience more enticing, positive, productive, loyalty-inducing, and generate more revenue for you?
It comes down to three important components: personalization, customization and optimization.
These are your customers, you value your relationship with them. You immediately greet them by name and offer the best care possible. Utilize information you already have within your CRM to match information provided by the customer to greet them. For example, matching the inbound ANI to an existing phone record within your CRM allows you to greet the customer by name when they call. Matching an inbound customer email address to an existing address within your CRM allows you to personalize an auto-response email, which will provide a first level of comfort and hospitality for your customer. Social media provides access to a variety of personal details; utilize as much as possible to create a personalized and automated environment.
Once an inbound inquiry is matched to a specific individual, anticipate the reason why the customer is reaching out. This can be done by knowing the history of your customers’ characteristics and their associated desired actions. For example, if history tells you customers attempting to contact you within 5 days of ordering have a high tendency to ask for a delivery status, present that specific information right after you welcome the customer. All this can be done automatically, either through the phone using an IVR, by sending an auto-response email, etc. Addressing the most common reasons for customer interactions will give you a great head start in creating a personalized and custom environment.
Now you are utilizing quick and effective solutions to personalize and customize the messaging for your customers. You are on your way to providing an efficient and pleasant customer experience. Now you can turn your customer service into a profit engine. Test different components of your customer service interactions to determine what the best mix of messaging, choices, sequences and pricing. The best mix will result in the highest profits and biggest cost savings. For example, if you incorporate a save sale strategy for customers looking to downgrade their subscription, test different price points, promotions and options to see what results in the highest retention and revenue. To drive down your live representative expense, determine messaging options that efficiently and effectively handle your customer interactions. Once you determine what is best, use that mixture as the standard for how you handle all your customer interactions. However, keep 10-20% of interactions available for further testing. Be diligent; what you assume is a bad option could be your next great find.
As society becomes less patient, needier and more reliant on technology, you have more and more of an opportunity to make a positive impact by addressing customer desires. You can utilize technology to make customer service a pleasant, efficient experience that will generate success for your company.