The acquisition of new customers can be a complicated, expensive and long drawn out procedure for call centers, often shooting costs up to 5 or 6 times what it requires to retain an existing customer.
Therefore, it becomes very important to ensure that customers who have already invested in a product remains loyal to that brand, and that costs do not shoot up beyond reasonable boundaries when gathering new customers.
Both these procedures – marketing campaigns and client retention strategies – require the development of ways to reach out effectively to the customers.
With the advancement in digital technologies, call center software have been developed which aid in this process of conducting outreach programme’s.
Modern times have transformed the role of a call center from simply being an instrument of communications to a proactive customer engagement wing of the company.
More and more brands are understanding the requirement for reaching out periodically to the customers in order to know their level of satisfaction with the products they’ve invested in, as well as listening and clarifying any issues they might have.
Gary Vaynerchuk, an entrepreneur and author of books on digital management, says, “To get customers, you need to go from the heart to the brain to the wallet.”
This theory rings true in selling practices especially, because all the best marketing campaigns seek to capture the attention of the audience, make them think positively about the product and why they need it, and then decide to invest in it.
A product that can show its value proposition clearly right at the beginning has the best chance of striking a chord with its target audience.
For this purpose as well, it is necessary for a marketing agency to reach out to the customers so that they are aware of the value that the product or service would bring. Only when they are aware of this can they make an informed choice.
We can see why reaching out to customers is probably the single most important first step to establishing a successful business venture.
Keeping that in mind, we are listing out some of the most simple yet most effective ways in which call centers can reach out to customers and facilitate better engagement. This would come in useful in both the retention of clients as well as garnering new customers.
1. Find the customer’s preferred channel of interaction. These days, there are quite a few platforms by which companies can interact with individual customers. There are some who prefer taking to social media, while others are happier with conveying information through messaging apps, and still others prefer traditional voice calls.
For a brand, it is important to quickly understand which channel a customer is most likely to be active in and responsive to. This would help in making far more effective communication, because the user on the other side is more comfortable in reciprocating within that particular environment.
This does not mean, however, that other channels should be neglected for the sake of the most responsive channel. A steady flow of information must be present everywhere, but the information via preferred channels should be best designed for interactivity and engagement.
2. Provide a human element to digital communication. With the advancement of technology, many of the generic tasks that previously required significant resources can now be automated to work without any human intervention whatsoever.
This has greatly reduced the workload for non-decision based jobs and allowed for employees to tackle higher call volumes, etc.
However, it is important to ensure that uniqueness is not lost in an automated template, because customers want a human touch to the service they receive to make them feel valued.
There are plenty of little things that cannot successfully be automated, such as tones, gesture or body language, and these go a long way in influencing the customer’s decisions with respect to the company.
3. Take decisions based on data. Sometimes, gut feeling is the difference between a moderate successful business and a breakthrough enterprise. However, such occurrences are touch and go, and relying on intuition for decision making can be a dangerous ploy, since a single wrong turn can cause a collapse.
Instead, companies should take decisions based on the trends found from the collected data, since these trends clearly show how things are likely to happen based on the past instances. Basing decisions on real numbers also means you give yourself the statistically greatest chance of success.
4. Provide facilities for mobile customers. The rise of the smartphone has changed the digital landscape. What was unthinkable just over a decade ago is a commonplace today.
People are using their phones to drive every aspect of their lives, including the business of buying and selling products.
This trend of the rising number of customers who are connected to a brand by mobile devices has led to the emergence of conversational commerce, whereby outreach is highly unique and customized for a specific user, and communication is established through text messages or using messaging apps rather than resorting to website chats.
Since mobile customers are technically always online, there is a huge scope to send in personalized recommendations, memos, offers on goods and services , etc. to further cement the relationship between buyer and seller.
5. Empower customers using technology. Tools such as personalized callbacks in case of abandonment at peak times, or visual aides to conceptualize a product are important to assure the value of customer they bring in to the transaction.
The implementation of software is Customer Relationship Management (CRM) further enhances prospects of increasing sales.
All of this is meant to communicate to the customer that his time and resources are being taken seriously and that the company respects the ideas of its customers.
The more customers see a benefit in terms of time saving or clarity of purpose, the more likely they are to support and invest in a brand.
6. Act on the feedback you receive from customers. Business communication cannot be a one-way street. The call center must urge customers to give their feedback, because this is the most valuable insight you can gain into the customer’s mindset and level of satisfaction.
Moreover, it provides the best opportunities for identifying weak links in your system, based on what aspects the customer thinks you could do better in.
Implementing changes that make a customer happier is the best way to ensure a good assessment of your customer service.
In this manner, the customer feels like you care enough to change your ways to suit their needs, which leads them being far more receptive to contributing to your sales.
7. Build predictive models using Analytics. Data analytics is expected to provide the biggest breakthroughs in the coming decade. Industries today have no shortage of data, but they struggle to segregate the junk from the meaningful data, and end up not learning from the data at all.
The Economist ran a report stating data had eclipsed oil to become the most precious resource in the world – such is the power of information.
Studying patterns in customer behaviour, backed by volume and diversity of data, can successfully and accurately build models to predict what to expect.
This is very useful in terms of preparing the perfect tailor-made communications directive for each individual customer. Such a process is logistically impossible for humans to work out, but if a machine can crunch the numbers, we can actually arrive at the best possible course for each individual.
8. Stay one step ahead of the customer at all the times. Success comes to those who know what is to be done ahead of schedule. Being proactive rather than reactive, and asking and answering the most critical questions beforehand, clears doubts in the minds of customers.
This could also mean engaging the users about a product even before it is launched, asking them what their recommendations would be, what they expect out of it and then developing the product keeping these views in mind. In short, adopting a customer-centric and proactive approach can be a winning combination.
The Case Study
The practices that have been listed here help to engage customers more intensely and over a longer period of time, eventually ensuring their loyalty and helping the company boost its sales as well as maintain a long-standing relationship with the customers.
Following these simple procedures can help to transform a contact center to a full fledged customer service center, where customers not only get to know about events taking place with respect to the company, but can find a one-stop solution for any clarifications they might require, or any issues they might want to get it fixed.
To illustrate the importance of such practices, we are going to take a look at a contact center called Zeusolutions, offering call center solutions for a large organization.
In this case study, we will delve into the situation that the company found itself in and take a look at some of the key challenges that they faced in their operations.
Then we will study the solutions that were implemented to counter these challenges, and the effect that they had. We will also determine whether the implementation of these changes brought a positive impact in the overall procedure or not.
The Problem Scenario
Zeusolutions handles a very high volume of calls every day, especially during business hours. However, they have noticed that their growth rate is stagnating, and is falling behind other competitors in the market.
Even with the implementation of the best call center software, they were unable to effectively reach out to customers at the level they were aiming for.
This was a cause for worry, since they had a new product launch waiting in the pipeline and needed their customer service channels to be most effective before the announcement.
Some of the main challenges that the company faced are listed below.
1. Even though outreach programmes were being implemented across a variety of channels, they noticed that in quite a significant number of cases, users were ditching one or more channels entirely, or at least to a large extent, and were comfortable with other channels.
2. A huge percentage of their customers were conducting business through mobile devices almost exclusively. They found it difficult to establish a two-way communication, since it was cumbersome without the facility of an app where they could directly contact someone from the customer service department of the company.
3. Customers were raising doubts and waiting for their issues to be resolved since the company did not have any mechanism in place to predict the most common doubts that might occur. This led to dissatisfaction among the customers, which translated into an adverse effect on sales.
4. There was no scope for the customers to see that the feedback they gave was actually being implemented in subsequent versions.
Because of this, a lot of the customers felt like their opinion was not being valued sufficiently and chose to either stop giving feedback or use a competitor’s product. In both cases the company suffered because they lost either the insight or the customer himself.
The managers drew up the following solutions to counter the problems they faced.
1. Employees were encouraged to focus on the channels where the customer was most comfortable interacting, and establish main communications there. They were also expected to provide personalized service so that customers felt valued.
2. Data was studied and patterns were recognized using call center software solutions to identify the best approach in any scenario.
3. Feedback of the customers was taken seriously and changes were implemented according to the wishes that were indicated by the customers as far as possible.
Within a year of implementation of these simple practices, customer satisfaction levels were on an upward climb, and client retention rates had increased by over 10%.
Business was up by just over 6% compared to the previous year and the market share had increased by 4%, which meant the business was well on its way to capturing the majority of the market.
Thus we see how important customer engagement is, and what benefits it could have for a company. This is one of the most important duties of telemarketing agencies, and implementing sound strategies such as the ones described in this article would definitely help in producing a better output as the end result.