When you’re looking at increasing your business revenue, the first thing your mind probably jumps to is getting more customers. But what if I—and a lot of data—told you that you could drive future revenue by focusing on customer support?
It probably wouldn’t surprise you–you’ve been in this game a while. But it’s possible that you might just be underestimating, at least a little bit, just how important providing a good customer experience is to your bottom line.
The undeniable value of investing in customer support
The problem with customer support is that it’s not quantifiable, so there’s no way to tell if it’s driving revenue, right? Actually, wrong. Leave it to Harvard Business Review to show exactly why customer experience–especially the support customers receive when they have a question or issue–is a considerable factor in driving future revenue.
The long story short of Peter Kriss’ excellent article, “The Value of Customer Experience, Quantified,” is this:
“Customers who had the best past experiences spend 140 percent more compared to those who had the poorest past experience.”
And the results are similar regardless of whether your business is transactional or based on recurring membership; the study also found that customers with poor experience had only a 43 percent chance of being members a year later, but those with the best experiences were likely to remain members for another six years.
And the good news is that good customer support doesn’t necessarily cost you more. According to HBR, Sprint’s focus on improving customer experience contributed to reducing customer care costs by a whopping 33 percent, and research shows that 55 percent of customers would pay more for a guarantee of better service.
The equally undeniable cost of poor customer service
So good customer service can help your bottom line, but poor customer service can actually cost you money too.
This infographic from Help Scout has tons of great information, including:
- 51 percent of people give up on a purchase after only one attempt to reach support
- 86 percent of customers will cease patronizing a business because of a bad customer experience
- Bad service drove 61 percent of customers to a competitor. Ouch.
And while you might think you’re doing a good job, keep in mind that a typical business only hears from four percent of dissatisfied customers, and while 80 percent of companies believe they offer “superior” customer service, only 8 percent of customers think that those same companies deliver “superior” customer service.
Remember that when customer experience isn’t up to par, support will spend even more time–and therefore money–trying to address an issue that could have been fixed sooner.
The end result is not only lost revenue from existing customers but also lost potential revenue from those customer’s friends, family, and coworkers. As MarketingCharts reports from a study conducted by ZenDesk:
Overall, 95 percent of respondents who have had a bad experience said they told someone about it, compared to 87 percent who shared a good experience. In fact, bad experiences were more likely to be shared across each of the social circles identified. Friends or family (in person) were most commonly told, by 81 percent of those with bad experiences and 72 percent with good experiences, followed by coworkers (in person–57 percent and 40 percent, respectively).
Ways to improve your customer service
So given the overwhelming proof that poor customer experience loses you money, how can you improve your support to provide a great experience and bolster your bottom line?
The best way to head off problems is to address them head-on. Do you already know that part of your product is confusing, or that there’s a common billing issue people are dealing with? Don’t shy away from it–because as GM of Small Business at LivePerson Tom Byun shares, the conversation is going to happen whether you like it or not. If you’re proactive, you’ll save time, money and probably a number of customers (and potential customers!) in the process.
There are a number of ways to address things head on–perhaps an email newsletter is the best vehicle to share troubleshooting tips for that billing issue, or maybe you can create a short video or blog post that tells customers how to get around a potential point of confusion. Then, provide that information to your customer support reps, if they have information in a packaged, easily shareable format, they can provide customers with that information quickly and reduce wait and call times.
You can also send out automated emails to all new customers to check in and make sure their experience is what they need it to be. This not only gives them the chance to contact you if something isn’t quite up to snuff, but it keeps you in contact with them, providing more touch points for future upsells.
Be worthy of loyalty
It might also be worth looking into the Net Promoter Score (NPS). Many companies have posted considerable growth with NPS, which qualifies how likely customers would be to recommend a company or product to a friend or colleague. Those who definitely would are promoters, those who might are passives, and those who wouldn’t are detractors.
NPS is all about evaluating loyalty, and loyalty gets you sales from both recurring revenue (if you have subscriptions) and in referrals. While using the NPS system doesn’t guarantee you growth, it does force you (in a good way!) to focus on what makes customers loyal, and loyalty stems from a great experience and a good product.
Do you like it when you can’t get a hold of a real person at a company? Neither do your customers.
And while you may (and absolutely should!) have your phone number and email prominently displayed on your site, you should make sure that customers who prefer not to pick up the phone or wait for an email response have an easy way to get in touch. Online chat support can be very effective and cost-efficient solution as well as way more convenient for customers.
This also means being available on social media–if someone reaches out or mentions your brand or a support issue on any platform, respond. They’re not just posting for their own gratification. They are definitely expecting a response, and if they’re posting on social, it might be a good indicator that customer support didn’t solve their issues satisfactorily the first time around.
Additionally, social media–including review sites like Yelp–is also perfect for gauging general sentiment and provide excellent opportunities to be proactive, reach out, and talk directly to customers and improve their experience.
Be awesome at email
Yes, you can deliver great customer support over email, because you can deliver the same qualities over email that good customer support requires over any medium–empathy, helpfulness, and responsiveness.
Help Scout put together this list of seven examples of excellent email customer service. The key, like most great customer support, is to be personalized and prompt, which yes, is time-consuming, but if you have a great process in place–especially if it’s automated–then you and your customers can reap the rewards of a great experience.
Of course, if you’re going to use email as support, it has to be scalable, which is why automating your email support (not just your marketing!) can streamline your process and allow you to serve your customers on email and on other channels. You must also make sure that your support emails remain personalized but adhere to a support style guide to keep support emails helpful and clear.
Invest in your customers and your bottom line
Improving your customers’ experiences can improve a lot of things in your business as well. Companies that implemented NPS saw reductions in churn, increases in customer retention, growth in revenue, and markedly higher spending from customers who had a great experience.
Investing thought and time into improving your customer support and experience can have a direct and positive impact on your bottom line and your sales. It’s just that–an investment–but one that will have positive returns