A loyal customer is a profitable customer. Not only do loyal customers spend 31% more than new customers, but they are also 50% more likely to try a new product or service from your business. And that’s on top of the fact that keeping a loyal customer is five times cheaper than trying to acquire a new customer.
Customer loyalty is essential to long-term business success. The truth is that 80% of your profits are likely to come from just 20% of your customers, so it’s vital that you do what you can to build customer loyalty and retention into every aspect of your business.
The problem is that’s easier said than done. Developing loyal customers is more than just making customers happy or providing a great product. You must encourage your customers to choose you over the competition. To do that, we have to look at what exactly customer loyalty and retention is, why it matters, how to keep customers loyal, and the power of customer experience management to bring everything together.
What is Customer Loyalty and Retention?
Customer loyalty is defined as a customer’s desire or willingness to repeatedly purchase from and interact with a business. It’s not about one-time purchases—even if the purchase is large. Loyalty is about customers that return to your business over and over again and resist doing business with competitors.
According to a poll by Yotpo, brand loyalty is characterized as repeat purchasing (67.8%), “love” for the brand (39.5%), and preference despite price (37.7%).
Customer loyalty goes beyond sales tactics and customer retention (which only looks at whether or not a customer continues to do business with you, not necessarily actively avoids competitors). Loyal customers want to do business with your brand and engage with you, regularly. Retained customers will purchase from you again, without necessarily, loving your brand.
- enjoy the customer experience,
- are delighted by the product/service,
- appreciate your brand.
The Importance of Customer Loyalty to Your Business
Customer loyalty and customer retention help you grow your business faster than sales and marketing. That’s because loyal customers spend more time with your brand and more money on your products. Loyal customers are valuable assets that drive revenue, word-of-mouth marketing, referral traffic, and more.
When you have loyal customers, not only do you build a strong sense of trust between your brand and your customers, but you also edge out your competitors in every way. Customer loyalty creates a relationship between your business and your customer that provides endless benefits.
Loyal customers are also happy customers, and that’s critical. When customers are unhappy, they have no problem moving on. According to Accenture, after a single bad sales or marketing experience:
- 50% of customers will immediately quit doing business with a company.
- 54% will immediately start engaging with other companies.
- 25% will express their disappointment on social media.
According to Hubspot, “Customer loyalty is something all companies should aspire to simply by virtue of their existence: The point of starting a for-profit company is to attract and keep happy customers who buy your products and drive revenue.”
5 Ways Call Center Agents Can Create Customer Loyalty?
The problem is that nearly 80% of companies spend less than 30% of their time and budget on retaining customers—sharing retention-focused messaging and content.
However, there is good news. Creating customer loyalty isn’t impossible. It just takes time—shoppers need to buy from the same company five or more times (37%), three times (33%), four times (17%), or two times (12.4%), before considering themselves loyal.
So, how can your call center agents help develop customer loyalty and retention? To transform satisfied customers into loyal brand evangelists that propel your brand’s growth, there are a few things you can do.
1. Focus on Customer Service
74% of customers believe that brands can better meet their expectations if they provide a higher level of customer service. The quality of your customer service is largely up to your call center agents. They are often the first point of contact at your business, and how they respond to the customers will greatly impact how those customers feel about your brand.
To improve customer service, and thus the entire customer experience, take it one step at a time.
- Get to Know Your Customer: Put a face to your customer with a detailed persona that focuses on quality information.
- Pay Attention to the Customer Journey: Customers will interact with your call center differently depending on their stage in the sales cycle. Pinpoint each customer’s journey and respond appropriately.
- Develop Emotional Connections: Agents should move away from robotic responses and implement storytelling, personalization, and more.
- Decrease Customer Effort: Customers want simplicity, including instant communication and fast service. Make every effort to simplify the customer’s experience with your call center.
- Ask for Feedback: Let your customers know that you are listening to their wants and needs by asking for feedback.
- Train Your Call Center Team: Your agents are your most valuable asset; train them to be the best customer service team possible.
- Engage Your Customers Where They’re At: A branded omnichannel strategy that includes email, social media, live chat, and phone should be available.
According to a study by Wunderman, 79% of loyal customers would only consider purchasing from a company if they felt the brand actually understood and cared about them. Much of this understanding comes through your call center interactions.
When your customers contact your business, they want to know that you care about and understand why they’re contacting you. That means you have to get to know them. There are a few ways to demonstrate customer understanding:
- Develop a customer persona with the key demographics and expectations of your customers so that every customer is a real person.
- Create self-support resources (a knowledge base and community forum) that customers can use to troubleshoot, communicate on various topics, and provide feedback.
- Communicate with your customers on the same channel they use to engage you. It should be their choice of platform when it comes to contacting you, and you should have an omnichannel strategy in place to interact as required.
3. Share your Customers’ Values
89% of customers are loyal to brands that share their values. As a company and a call center, you need to focus on raising the visibility of your brand’s core values, thereby improving your brand recognition and loyalty.
To demonstrate how your company shares values with your customers, your core values and mission must be a critical piece of your business strategy. There are a few ways to do this:
- Create a community with customers from different demographics and backgrounds, and start conversations on your company values and the stability of your brand.
- Remember, your company’s values don’t have to be all about “saving the world.” It’s more about humanizing your brand and making it relatable to your everyday customer. Think about what your customers really want.
- Use social media to connect with your customers and engage with them on different social issues to figure out what matters to them.
- Most importantly, align with your customers rather than the other way around. Grow your brand in a way that matches your customers so you can bring everyone closer together.
4. Focus on Building Trust with Your Customers
43% of customers will switch brands if they feel they’ve lost trust in a company, and 38% of customers say that their loyalty is driven by trust. To build trust, your call center agents should focus on demonstrating emotional intelligence. This is critical to creating a system that makes empathy and customer satisfaction a priority.
The key to building trust and emotional intelligence is to teach your agents to act, respond, and behave appropriately during every customer interaction. There are six crucial elements.
- Anticipate Customer Requests: Agents should pay attention to verbal cues, so they are equipped to handle the caller no matter what happens.
- Deliver Explanations and Justifications: Agents should provide facts, explanations, and justifications for their solutions, providing greater context and knowledge.
- Educate Customers: Offer additional information on your products and services to help the customer now and in the future.
- Build Rapport: Start conversations with a simple greeting and a question to begin building a connection.
- Provide Emotional Support: Recognize the customer’s mood and then offer empathy and support by listening and asking the right questions.
- Offer Personal Information: Don’t be afraid to share a few personal insights to create a quick, personal connection.
5. Create a Customer Loyalty Program
While customer loyalty is not a program but an attitude—a key aspect of your company’s culture—a customer loyalty/retention program can be critical to success. 77% of customers participate in retail loyalty programs, 46% have joined a hotel loyalty program, and 40% have joined an airline reward program.
Customers enjoy loyalty programs due to the financial rewards they receive and the extra attention to their needs. The key is to develop a customer loyalty program that people actually want to use. And there are a few critical ways to do this.
- Create a simple points system. Every time a customer makes a purchase, give them points, which translate into discount codes (20% off), freebies, or other special offers.
- Implement a tier system to encourage participation. Customers want to participate in loyalty programs that are attainable. You should offer small rewards for customers at the bottom of the ladder and then offer more value the higher they work their way up.
- Offer a VIP experience and benefits. Some customers will appreciate being able to bypass the first rungs of the ladder by buying VIP status with an upfront fee. Think of it like Amazon Prime.
- Make a game out of the program. Customers love games. To encourage loyalty, include contests, sweepstakes, and other competitions with high-value rewards that keep your loyalty program engaging and exciting.
Each of these five ways that your call center agents can create customer loyalty are connected to customer experience management—an essential element to meeting customer expectations.
What is Customer Experience Management?
Customer experience management (CEM), according to Gartner, is the “practice of designing and reacting to customer interactions to meet or exceed their expectations.” When done correctly, CEM leads to greater customer satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy.
CEM is about more than serving your customers. It’s about, consciously and subconsciously, building a relationship with your customers, personalizing their experiences, and meeting their expectations at every stage in the customer life cycle. You need to know your customers so well that they not only remain loyal to you, but they evangelize your brand to others.
The key to customer experience management is being able to track and gain insight into your customers across all touchpoints and channels within your organization. You need to be able to monitor and extract valuable data about every customer interaction so that you can “close the gap” between your customers’ expectations and their experience.
When you make customer experience management a priority, you will:
- Strengthen your brand preference with great experiences.
- Boost revenue and sales through word of mouth and customer loyalty.
- Improve customer loyalty through more memorable customer interactions.
- Lower costs by decreasing customer churn.
To develop solid customer experience management, you need a tool or software that helps you easily and quickly collect and analyze every customer interaction, delivering you full analytics and insight into the customer experience.
How Can a Customer Experience Management Tool Help to Improve Customer Loyalty?
A customer experience management tool can help reveal how well your call center agents handle every customer interaction—whether they meet your performance standards and customer expectations.
The problem with most CEM tools it that they try to quantify something that is interaction-based and not easily broken down into numbers or simple statistics. For example, there are a few key analytics that your CEM tool should help you measure:
- Customer Retention: This is an indication of how long your customers stay with your business. An increase in just 5% in customer retention can lead to a 25 – 100% increase in profit, according to The Loyalty Effect.
- Negative Churn: This is the rate at which customers upgrade or purchase additional services/products from your company. This rate helps offset natural customer churn.
- Net Promoter Score: NPS is a customer satisfaction metric that explains the degree to which your customers would recommend your company to others on a scale of 1 to 10. This should be calculated by subtracting the percentage of detractors from promoters.
- Customer Effort Score: This looks at how difficult it was for a customer to solve a problem with your company—how much effort they had to put in to the resolution.
The four measurements above require your CEM tool to be completely customizable to your needs, communication channels, training, and best practices. You need to be able to judge each customer interaction based on pre-set criteria for transparency, which is why a call (interaction) monitoring form is the most valuable tool in your arsenal.
The key is to customize your call center monitoring form based on your business priorities and the sector that you work in. In this way, you can monitor the customer experience in such a way that you gain the most insight possible and have the greatest positive impact.
In particular, you’ll want to implement a customer experience management tool that can review four key areas of every customer interaction:
- Agent soft skills
- Adherence to processes
- Overall outcomes
By choosing a customer experience management tool that fits your needs and expectations exactly, you’ll gain access to the powerful analytics you need to succeed. It will be easier to spot trends and exceptions within your call center so you can ultimately focus on improving customer loyalty. And by digging deep and carrying out root-cause analysis, you can identify training gaps, broken processes, common pitfalls, and agent successes.
Learn how Scorebuddy’s scorecards are powerful customer experience management tools. And how they can encourage and empower your call center team to perform at their best. Download your free trial now.