Why good customer experience starts before you have customers
Why good customer experience starts before you have customers
If a good customer experience creates better brand loyalty, increases word of mouth and creates higher-value sales – then why are we waiting until customers are customers, before we give them the good stuff?
How you treat your prospects before they have invested one dollar with you, will directly affect their likelihood of becoming a customer, and a customer in it for the long haul.
Research by TopHQ shows that companies that deliver great buying experiences grow twice as fast as those who provide average buying experiences.
Now we’re not talking about the experience of putting an item through the checkout. We’re talking about the full buying process from research to consideration and then to purchase.
The first step is putting yourself in your customers’ shoes. Creating a customer journey map is an excellent way to audit, benchmark and revise the experiences your prospects have with you at every touch point on their path to purchase. Consider:
- What are their experiences in your bricks and mortar site?
- What about online? Is your website easy to navigate and does it have the information they need?
- How do they interact with you on social media?
- Do they read catalogues or other marketing material?
- What is their experience with your call centre?
- Is your brand experience seamless across all touch points?
Today, I’m going to look specifically at the call centre experience. The experience your prospects have with your call centre can make or break their relationship with you for life.
A surprisingly easy, helpful experience can turn a sceptic into an advocate. A bad experience can have them running to your competitors.
All call centres rely on the right staff, with the right skills (think empathy and flexibility over impatience and stubbornness) and the right training to succeed. But there are different attributes Inbound and Outbound call centres need to focus on to create a good customer experience for their prospects.
Treat prospects as humans, not numbers
When it comes to outbound calls it’s important to treat prospects as humans, not numbers. Sounds obvious right? But prospects, like horses, can smell fear – or at least tell when the agent at the other end of the phone has zero interest in anything more than ticking off names on their list.
Get the right list
As you know, the quality of the list is directly proportionate to the price you paid for it. There is a lot to be said for purchasing a list with better targeting and more detailed lead information. This information helps you tailor calls to your prospects, not just blindly read them a script. Using a poor list is like throwing darts blindfolded. Backwards.
Get the script right. And then don’t use it.
Live tweaking of scripts is a great habit for call centre managers to be in. If it’s clear the current script isn’t hitting the right note with the lead, change it up, refine it and test the results. All of this can be done live, so immediate results should be seen.
Even with the right script, however, it’s important to let your agents ad lib. If they are actively listening to the prospect and connecting with them, the customer experience will be much better and so too will your conversion rate. Prospects want to have a conversation with your business, not be read to.
Review your dialling strategies
If you’re using a dialler, make sure you aren’t hanging up on your prospects as they answer. If you hang up on someone again and again, they will Google your number, find your business name and never do business with you again.
Don’t start the call with a recorded message before transferring to an agent. Just. Don’t. Do. It. No matter how much time it saves your agents.
Consider having blended calls. The unique experience of staff who deal with both inbound and outbound calls means they are usually better equipped to handle curly questions.
In theory your inbound prospects are further down the sales funnel. They might be ready to purchase today, now, on this call. If only they could actually talk to someone.
Check your IVR menu
If your prospects are calling, then they want to talk to a human. Make it as easy as possible for them by giving them an option to do that within the first three menu items.
And then reduce your wait time as much as possible. Again, a blended call centre may assist in reducing queue times. As inbound queues surge, outbound calls can be reduced to handle incoming enquiries.
A recent Salesforce study showed that 64% of consumers and 80% of business buyers expect real-time responses.
We’ve already talked about hiring agents with the right skills, but what does it actually mean?
Empathy and patience are very important when dealing with prospects. You need agents who are skilled at actively listening, someone who can recommend solutions, not just push products. Remember, the prospects called you, you’re talking about their agenda, not yours.
Don’t send them to the website
Your prospects aren’t stupid. They know how to Google. If they’re calling you they want to talk to a human not a bot, and they don’t want to trawl through the FAQs on your website. Solve the problem for them then and there; if you send them away you may never see them again.
If the prospect’s query couldn’t be resolved straight away, call them back and follow up with a solution. Ideally have the same agent follow them up. There’s nothing better from a prospect’s point of view than feeling like they are being taken seriously and building a one-on-one relationship with your business. Just like with outbound calls, it’s about connecting humans, not just dealing with numbers.
Empower your agents
If you’ve hired the right people, trained them well and trust their instincts, then let them off the leash and see what they can do. First call resolution dramatically improves if staff are empowered to make offers, make recommendations and add value (within a limit) without having to transfer a prospect to a supervisor. Your prospects will feel loved too.
Keeping customers happy is a full time job, especially when it begins before they’re even customers. But by producing a seamless, customer-centric experience for them as they bubble along their path to purchase, half the work of converting them is already done.