10 Ways to Galvanize Your Customer Relationships
By Bud Michael
Today's consumers are savvy and independent. They seek reliable and speedy customer service, but don't want to be bombarded with superfluous information, or overloaded with unnecessary content. By adopting CRM technologies and practices, the most adept businesses can find an even balance that solidifies long-lasting customer relationships. Here are 10 ways businesses can develop loyal customers.
1. Two-way Communication
While providing prompt response, answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) and knowledgeable customer service representatives (CSRs) is important, outgoing contact is just as crucial. Targeted direct mail and e-mail campaigns are an excellent way to establish two-way communication. Alerting loyal shoppers to special sales, offers and news establishes a tighter bond between customer and company.
2. 360-degree View of the Customer
Today a call center will only succeed if it also is a contact center. Serving as an important customer touch point, the contact center must integrate online and off-line customer interaction. The foundation for building a customer conversation history and achieving a 360-degree view of the customer is creating a single-threaded conversation. A single-threaded conversation tracks all customer interactions across multiple channels, enabling multiple CSRs to conduct a continuous personalized dialogue over time and across multiple communication avenues. To maintain this continuous dialogue, every interaction a customer has with a company needs to be recorded in a single software system accessible to both CSRs and the direct marketing team.
3. 360-degree View of the Company
No matter how customers contact your company—whether by e-mail or telephone—it should be easy for them to get all of the information they need. Your systems should integrate smoothly enough so they present as a single system to the outside world. That seamless integration needs to be conducted through all communication channels as well as an outbound e-mail campaign management system.
4. E-service Portal
An e-service portal presents a "single face" to customers that is customized to provide all information, history and knowledge that customers need for purchase decisions, account management, or customer service and support. The e-service portal harnesses the single- threaded conversation, customer databases as well as customer profile information to deliver content tailored to the needs of the customer.
Sometimes the best approach to customer service is "hands-off." Although self-service lacks personal contact, it offers several important benefits to customers, including unlimited access and the ability to avoid long telephone queues. Self-service also allows consistent access to knowledge without forcing a customer to face a disparity of information across different customer service agents.
6. Garner Feedback and React
The most successful businesses today have grown by listening to their customers' requests. These companies seek customer feedback from the Web site and offline communication tools.
7. Expert customer service
A problem customers have with contact centers is that they often are not able to answer customer inquiries. Customers are sometimes passed to two or three different CSRs before getting their questions answered. With a workflow management system for e-mail and telephone correspondence, companies can route each customer inquiry to the appropriately trained CSR, resulting in a quicker response time.
8. Personalized Marketing Techniques
Using a solid knowledge base built with analytic technologies, companies now have the power to recommend products to shoppers based on their previous purchases. The ability to cross-sell and upsell based on historical data specific to a shopper can increase profit and encourage the shopper to return.
9. Accurate and Customized Responses to Queries
By creating standard answers to FAQs, e-mail response is streamlined. Using intelligent e-mail notification systems, typical customer inquiries can immediately be answered with automated responses. Unique questions are passed on to trained CSRs, who then have more time to provide better service to these customers.
10. Multichannel Contact
Never before have there been so many ways for a customer to interact with a business. Inevitably, each customer will prefer a different method of communication and it is up to the company to offer the highest level of service possible regardless of the communication channel. Without a streamlined process in place for both inbound and outbound messages from each communication tool, it becomes difficult to monitor customer interaction.
Regardless of the communication channel, the company needs to provide extraordinary customer service at each customer touchpoint to survive in today's marketplace.
Bud Michael is the executive vice president of marketing for KANA. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.