What if the actions of your customer support team resulted in a(n):
- 82 percent likelihood your customers would repurchase or renew when presented with a chance to switch.
- 97 percent chance they will share positive word of mouth, and
- 86 percent probability your company will increase wallet share.
According to a 2020 report from Gartner, “The Customer Value Advantage,” those desired outcomes are simply a matter of adding value and decreasing customer effort. Specifically, authors Lauren Villeneuve and Devin Poole note:
Customer service and support (CSS) leaders have historically faced pressure to effectively resolve customers’ issues while protecting the bottom line. Their No.1 job was to return customers to a steady state with the product or service they had purchased through an effortless, cost-efficient experience. To the extent that CSS organizations impacted loyalty outcomes, they did so through reducing disloyalty. While low-effort customer service remains an essential part of service strategy, it’s insufficient. There’s a huge opportunity for CSS to do more to drive tangible business outcomes, specifically by helping customers achieve their intended goals with the product or service they purchased. When service creates this value for customers, it can boost customer loyalty outcomes such as retention, growth, and advocacy.
Value Creation in Customer Support
Helping confused or dissatisfied customers return to a positive path with your business is an essential form of customer value. However, as noted by Lauren and Devin, responding to and resolving their problems isn’t sufficient for driving retention, growth, and referrals. So how can you and your team strengthen customer relationships? Here are three ways to enhance value:
1. Encourage customers to use proactive communication platforms (like apps).
In a study by Nuance Communication, 85 percent of consumers reported they want proactive notifications, and 90 percent said they are more likely to do business with a company that sends them reminders. Several of my clients have improved their customer effort and Net Promoter Scores by actively encouraging customers to download and use their customer care apps. Once deployed, those customers are alerted to upcoming service disruptions, delivery delays, timely maintenance tips, and product updates.
2. Send outbound messages before customers need to reach out to you. Through real-time messaging (email, text, or phone calls), you show customers you are attending to their needs without them having to advocate on their behalf.
3. Develop a one-size does not fit all mindset. Proactive service requires a technology-aided/human-powered approach. While technology is an enabler, it is not a panacea. Some customers want to be digitally engaged, while others prefer only a human connection. In fact, only nine percent of current service experiences are fully resolved by self-service.
In all cases, customers are looking to receive value as effortlessly as possible. While they appreciate having issues resolved quickly and personally, they also want to be educated on features, receive offers on new products, renew purchases, or have their input contribute to product enhancements. Through a combination of technology and human service delivery, future-oriented support teams make customers’ lives easier and build lasting relationships.
Gartner predicts that by 2025, most service interactions will be proactive, with outbound communication exceeding inbound contact. How are you positioned for the evolving world of anticipatory care? More importantly, what can you and your team do today to ensure you are adding value in proactive ways?
Joseph Michelli, Ph.D., is a certified customer experience professional, business consultant, and author of 10 books spotlighting brands like Starbucks, Mercedes-Benz, and Zappos. You can connect with Joseph on LinkedIn.