Improving Customer Retention Levels Outside of Work Hours

With many businesses experiencing public shaming on social media, you shouldn't need telling that customers don't like to feel ignored

Improving Customer Retention Levels Outside of Work Hours

If you’re running a small business, then you probably don’t need to be reminded exactly how important customer retention is.

Even a 1% drop in repeat custom, or a dip in life time value (LTV), might seriously affect your cash flow.

However even having great customer service doesn’t guarantee great retention levels. Today, I’d like to share with you five steps that you can take to shift your service levels from great, to exceptional, reduce attrition and maximise client contract value.

Analyse inbound call data

Even out of business hours, inbound call data will afford you invaluable insight into your customers’ mind-set and behaviour. With an efficient business telecoms system in place using a call management suite to analyse call data is your first step in better customer service.

If there is a high volume of unanswered calls when the phones are unmanned perhaps there is a business case for changing your customer support staff shifts, or making sure your voice-message system is friendly and inviting.

Alternatively, make it easier for customers to get in touch via other means, an auto-responder can signpost an email address, community support forum, a website FAQ, social media channels, or other support documentation that might help them in the meantime.

Set realistic customer expectations for follow ups

Once you’re answering more calls, set realistic expectations for a follow up. And make sure you stick to it. It is no good promising a response within three days if your customer service team are, on average, taking four days to get back to people. Wow your customers by exceeding their expectations. Use an intelligent customer support platform and train your staff in the correct processes to make the best use of it.

Don’t forget, emails and call backs will have different turnaround times and giving your customers a reference number saves them having to repeat themselves again and again.

Ensure your customers experience performance consistency across all devices and channels

Consistency between devices and channels helps reinforce the trust you’ve already established with your client base. Being consistent in format, tone and language within each channel and consistent in message across all channels will go a long way to keeping communication open and honest.

Whilst social media can be ’chatty’, the message should be the same as when conveyed over the phone, by email or by post.

If you have more than one employee manning any one channel, they’ll need to adhere to a house style, or they risk confusing your customers and any employees who have access to more than one channel will need educating in the format any response to a customer query should take.

Segment your mailing lists, email at the right time, with the right message

Once your customers are happy and trust your brand, it’s time to reach out to them with brand messages designed to keep them coming back.

If you sell a consumable product, or something that needs to be replenished frequently (like food) then work out the average life-span of the product from your sales data and send reminder emails to customers two weeks, one week and one day before the product is depleted. In the first email, ask them how they’re finding their product and ask for feedback, in the second, remind them that they’ll soon be running low and in the last email warn them that total consumption is imminent!

The same can be applied to longer and shorter buying cycles, you’ll be surprised how effective it can be.

Encourage feedback, referrals and reward customer loyalty

Ask for feedback and listen to what your customers have to say – not just about the products, but delivery times, packaging, ease of installation, your customer service, the usability of your site, etc. Gather data about every touch point during the user journey and you’ll soon see areas where improvement is needed.

To incentivise feedback, offer sweepstakes or voucher codes and be sure to follow up with a thank you.

Generous referral schemes that offer discounts to both the referrer and the new customer work well to turn your customer base into brand advocates and let them do the selling for you.

Lastly, a loyalty scheme extends the average lifespan of your clients and improves LTV. A points system based on customers helping other customers in a forum or Q&A section of your website goes a long way to improving customer satisfaction, as well rewarding those who choose to take a community of brand ambassadors forward.

It can’t be that easy?

There’s no easy path to developing your customer base and client retention rates will rise and fall as your market ebbs and flows. But a big part of keeping your customers happy is analysing their behaviour, fixing your internal processes and then listening and responding to what they have to say. Continuously improve these things and your customers will stay with you for years to come.

Barrie Smith is marketing consultant for Network Telecom and has over 10 years’ experience in digital marketing across a broad range of industries including IT and business sector clients.

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