Customer Support – When you look back at your own experience, chances are, there will be only a few times when you were truly bowled over by the customer support service that made you feel as if you are a special customer, and not just another ticket.
Most companies, even the more established ones, tend to overlook customer service, which is often what makes or breaks a company. It’s also pertinent that customer services are spread across all departments of the organization.
Let’s find out why customer service is very important for all parts that comprise your business.
Great vs Good Customer Support
It needs no mention that people love good customer support. Still, many organizations settle for a “good” service rather than treading that extra mile for keeping customers happy.
The key difference between “great” and “good” customer service is that in the latter case, you’re doing only the minimum to keep you customer satisfied. But in the first case, you’re not only keeping them satisfied, buy going much beyond to retain their loyalty.
A great customer support not only puts a smile on your customer’s lips, but also helps to understand them, define your organization, and most importantly, impact your bottom line.
The White House Office of Consumer Affairs found that loyal customers are usually worth 10 times their first buy. Also, it’s 6-7 times more costly than acquiring a fresh customer than to keep the current one.
Never settle for good in customer service. Try to exceed their expectations. And if you want to steal a mile over your competitors, out-support them.
Customer Support isn’t only one department
Stop looking at customer support as a single department within your company. This should be the first step if you want your customers to return.
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Every member of your staff, at some point, should be involved in your customer support system. Whether it is the quality control manager checking and rechecking the manufacturing process, or the logistics department that ensures goods reach retail points on time, or the front-desk executive answering phone calls and emails, several persons are involved in their own capacity to lend customer support.
Great customer service can bolster all departments of your company and also help achieve their respective goals. Software company, Wufoo, uses a technique called support driven development (SDD), where the firm’s engineers help with customer support tickets for a few hours, every two weeks.
It helps teams to work on appropriate things and also focus solving problems that are faced by customers.
Knowledge gained from customer service also helps the sales team reach their goals. Besides keeping the present customers loyal, great customer support inspires word of mouth publicity. That’s why businesses with satisfied customers usually grow promptly and exponentially.
Making customer service work across your company
There are many ways by which you can make customer support deliver for all departments in your company. In some organizations, it means that all employees in the team—irrespective of their job roles—jumps in to help with customer support. In many other organizations, everyone on customer support is just a way for working through tickets, till the time it reaches the tipping point, when it then assumes a full-fledged role. It often becomes a component of company culture for many.
Web-based project management software company, Basecamp, pulled in its employees to help with customer service tickets because of the rising demand. But they soon discovered greater advantages than merely getting the tickets answered quickly. “Putting designers and programmers and everyone else in direct contact with customers isn’t about putting out fires; it’s about fire safety. It’s about having the kinds of conversations that lead to better products in the first place,” says Emily Triplett Lentz, author and brand consultant. A typical company usually hears from 5% of its unhappy customers. Such a proactive support could be a great tool for not merely resolving problems even before they crop up, but also to retain customer loyalty.
Why customer support is important?
- Many companies consider customer satisfaction as a marketing jargon which measures how the products and services of a company can meet or exceed customer expectation.
- Customer satisfaction is important because it provides business owners and marketers with the metric to manage and improve the business.
- In a recent survey of about 300 senior marketing managers, more than 70% said that they found customer satisfaction a useful metric for monitoring and managing their business.
Here are some reasons why customer support is important in business today.
Indicator to customer repurchase and loyalty
Customer satisfaction is the best indicator about the likelihood of a buyer to purchase your product or service in the future. You can ask your customers to rate the service satisfaction on a scale of 10. It’s a nice way to check whether they’ll be repeat customers. Even if they don’t, a higher rating means they’ll be advocating the product.
Customers who rate you seven or above, can be considered as satisfied. You can safely expect them to return and avail your products and services again. But customers rating nine or 10 are your advocates whom you can leverage to become your company’s evangelists.
A score of six or below are the warning signs of customer dissatisfaction and risks of them leaving. Customers can be put on a watch list and followed up. This will determine why the level of satisfaction is low.
That’s why measuring customer loyalty and repurchase is one of the major business metrics.
A point of differentiation
Satisfaction is seen as a major differentiator in a hugely cutthroat marketplace where companies are competing to grab customers. Business that succeed under such an environment, are the ones making customer support a core element in their business strategy.
Take two companies that offer a similar product or service. How will you choose one of them? If someone has recommended you one of the two, will that swing your opinion? Maybe. But how did the recommendation come up? It’s most likely backed by a good customer service experience. Companies that offer an outstanding customer support, create an environment where there are plenty of customer advocates and satisfaction levels are high. This is how customer satisfaction can go the full circle. Not only the customers promote your brand, they return to repurchase. Customer satisfaction helps you to keep a pulse on your existing clientele and also acts as points of differentiation for new buyers.
Lessens customer churn
Accenture’s 2008 global customer satisfaction survey report found that pricing of a product or service is not the key reason behind customer churn. It’s actually because of the poor overall customer service.
It’s advisable to emphasize on bettering customers’ expectations and make them feel valued at every opportunity. Devise a system and carry it out for six months. Measure their satisfaction levels again after that time and check whether the new initiatives return positive or negative customer satisfaction.
Increases the CLV
A study by business services company InfoQuest has revealed that “fully satisfied customers” contribute at least 2.6 times more towards the company’s revenue than the less satisfied customers.
Satisfaction plays a major role regarding how much revenue a customer contributes towards your business.
To be successful, a business has to understand the significance of customer lifetime value (CLV). When CLV increases, it leads to an increase in return on investment (ROI).
CLV is a beneficiary of high levels of both customer satisfaction and retention. You must reach that level of service so that customers come back and spend more on your products and services.
Decreases negative word of mouth publicity
McKinsey found out that an unhappy customer will tell 10-15 persons about the experience of using your product or service. In fact, more than 14% of your unsatisfied customers will tell at least 20 people of their experience of buying a product or service from you. That’s quite a lot of negative publicity. How much that’s going to affect your goodwill in the industry?
Customer satisfaction is closely linked to repeat purchases and revenue. But many companies tend to forget how customer satisfaction can negatively impact the business. It’s one thing to lose a single customer because he/she was unhappy, and it’s another thing to lose 30 customers because of negative word of mouth publicity by that customer.
For eliminating negative word of mouth publicity, you must continuously measure customer satisfaction levels. Tracking changes in satisfaction levels would help you to identify whether customers are really happy with the product or service.
It’s less expensive to retain existing customers than get new ones
This is perhaps the most publicized customer service statistic out there. Marketers say that it’s seven to eight times more costly to get a new customer than retain the existing ones. Now if that doesn’t strike a chord, then there’s nothing more one can do to demonstrate the importance of customer satisfaction.
As already said, customer acquisition is an expensive exercise. The marketing team has to spend thousands of dollars to attract the attention of prospective customers, nurture them to leads, and close them to sales.
Why is little or no money involved in customer retention? Take for instance you have allocated a fifth of your total marketing budget towards this purpose. How will that help you to improve customer satisfaction and retain your existing customers?
Following are some strategies you can follow in this regard.
- Use blogs for educating your customers
- Send special promotions and offers via email
- Use customer surveys to record their demands
- Delight your customers by extending personalized buying experiences
- Measure the satisfaction to check out how happy your customers are
Leading consultancy services firm, Lee Resources, found out in a study that for every single customer complaint, there are 26 other unsatisfied customers who remain silent.
That’s alarming numbers. Majority of the companies believe they are the best in business and have no unsatisfied customers. But the reality is 96% of unsatisfied customers never file a complaint. In fact, they simply leave and don’t come back.
Customer service plays a major role in your business. It’s the leading indicator for measuring customer loyalty. Identify your unhappy customers, reduce the churn, and increase the revenue. It’s also a key point of differentiation which helps to attract fresh customers in a competitive business environment. It’s also one of the most important parts of the product or service marketing mix. Top quality customer service goes a long way to create customer loyalty. Remember, customers today are not merely interested in the product or service they are buying, but also the add-on elements they get. Right from the smiling front-office executive who welcomes customers with a smile, to the refund they receive if they are unhappy with the product, everything counts in customer satisfaction. And this is where businesses have to be top class, ruling out all possibilities of complacency.
A key component to ensure better customer service is to motivate your employees properly and constantly for quality issues. At the same time, it’s important to include your employees in the decision making process about customer support. Make no mistake, it’s them who have to be in direct contact with your clients. They have to meet them in many cases and will have the most appropriate ideas regarding client servicing. This is one aspect which can’t be ignored. If your employees get an opportunity for communicating their ideas, they will become responsible for extending that service. As a result, they would want to be as good as possible.
The only expense that a company may have to incur in such situations, are the costs of regular employee monitoring researches that are connected to the motivational baggage. The results can make employees think of further innovations to the customer service system. That will also eliminate lapses in service. The rest will become a part of the company’s culture which will drive itself on.
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