12 Steps to Creating Lasting Customer Loyalty
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#1. Build loyalty one customer at a timeLoyal customers are earned one at a time. Loyalty isn't built solely with technology or ACD statistics or investing a lot of money in your contact center. Loyalty is gained by focusing on customers one at a time, one interaction at a time.
#2. Make it everybody's businessBuilding customer loyalty is everybody's business. It is not just management, not only the Quality Assurance department and definitely not the sole responsibility of any Customer Service department alone to satisfy the customer. An enterprise wide approach to customer service and satisfaction needs to be adopted if you truly want your customer to believe in you business’ integrity. Make all your employees not just the customer interactive employees and call center agents partners in the business of building loyalty. Involve them in improving the processes that impact your customers. Encourage them to take ownership over those activities that hold the promise of building and enhancing customer loyalty.
#3. Capture the voice of your customerThe difference between a contact center that's a cost center and one that's a profit center is based on what you do with the information your customers provide. Are your customers telling you something and you just aren’t listening? Take advantage of the feedback that customers offer and then prospect this information for ways to improve. Accept complaints as an opportunity to win over the situation and turn a negative experience into a lasting positive one. Make your contact center a key strategic asset and the heart of your company's business by capturing this valuable information and then becoming the proactive voice of your customers. Customer complaints and feedback are gifts — are you squandering opportunities by ignoring those who can best help you improve your business?
#4. Evaluate the experienceUse call monitoring to focus on the task of evaluating interactions with your contact center from your customers' perspective. Do you make it easy for customers to do business with you? Are the tools available to enable you to deliver great service to your customers? Are your systems user-friendly? Are there too many steps taken to resolve your customers' concerns or needs? Seek out and listen for opportunities to improve people, processes, and systems in an attempt to enhance the quality of the customers overall experience. Evaluate each interaction with your contact center as an opportunity to improve your business and build customer loyalty.
#5. Get the complete pictureMonitor screen activity as well as voice because what you don't see can hurt you and your customer. Screen capture enables you to evaluate the productivity of your agents accessing or processing information on the system and the accuracy of their data entry. Screen capture is an essential addition to your tools for improving contact center performance. Do your contact center agents need to access several applications to resolve an issue? During order entry are your agents required to take extra steps to enter and search for general information? Is your system agent friendly? Following the flow of information through your system will give you a better understanding of productivity of both the individual agents and the enterprise in general.
#6. A balanced approachNothing destroys your customers loyalty or a quality improvement program's credibility more quickly than inconsistency. Monitor a consistent sample across all agents, and provide feedback in a timely and consistent manner. Be sure to benchmark and then agree on what your standards are first. Ask your all supervisors to evaluate the same calls in order to get a less bias understanding of the call. Compare their scores with your own, or use calibration sessions to listen to calls in groups comprised of managers and supervisors. Let agents evaluate their own calls and compare their supervisor's evaluation to their own evaluations — this can be very telling. By using this approach, you send a powerful message on the importance of the program and you establish an atmosphere of fairness and objectivity. Use a "Buddy System" to team quality agents with new agents. Bottom line: evaluate and communicate consistent standards across your contact center.
#7. Do a 360 degree evaluationAsk Customers: "How are we doing?" The best Quality Management programs in the world have little value if your customers are not satisfied with the end product. Check and re-check how you are scoring with the customer; after all, they're the experts!
#8. Reinforce your messageDoes your Performance Appraisal system encourage customer loyalty and promote quality improvement? Clearly communicate your vision of what is expected of the team to succeed. Then repeat, repeat, repeat those messages in a powerful and memorable way that reinforces your total commitment to customers and to quality of service. Some ways to do that can include: Share recorded examples of superior service from across the organization. Have your junior management set an example by having agents monitor supervisor calls. Hand out buttons that say, "I Love My Customers," and mirrors that say "Put a Smile in Your Voice!" These are all low implementation cost examples of ways to reinforce and encourage a higher quality of customer contact.
#9. Make it fun & don't forget to celebrateDon’t forget to throw the occasional party after job well done. Be sure to reward quality improvement and offer encouragement for saving a customer, delivering awesome service, improving a process or procedure that affects customers. Keep in mind that rewards don't need to break the bank — try a shorts pass worn around the neck entitling the winner to wear shorts to work or a pass to have a supervisor take a call for 15 minutes. Deliver candy with a card thanking them for "Being So Sweet" to their customers. Small and oftentimes low-cost rewards can have high value. It is a good habit to brag a little — you and your team deserve it! Advertise your teams successes and contributions across the organization.
#10. Get to the root by working backwardsAnalysis that looks only at the individual agent won't deliver the information you need to successfully understand the workings of your contact center. Analyze by team, by trainer, by supervisor, by full-time versus part-time staff. Analyze data from the back door all the way up to the center floor. By looking only at the floor and agent statistics, you may never get to the root. And make Quality Management data as easy to view as ACD statistics — put it on every desktop.
#11. Close the loopClose the loop with specific actions for improvement and follow up to verify your results. Follow up with specific coaching examples and "How To's" through Quality Blitzes that focus on a specific area each month that needs improvement. For example, deliver one recording per day of an excellent example on how to "Turn around an irate customer." By the end of the month, everyone will be an expert on overcoming that challenge! Place mirrors on every desktop that ask, "Is there a smile in your voice? Say cheese!" and watch your customer satisfaction ratings on "friendliness" shoot up!
#12. Experience your customerGet closer to your customer — listen to customer calls in your contact center, on your commute, at the start of every management and team meeting, in the boardroom, or to and from the airport. Share the voice of the customer with your president, head of marketing, and other senior decision-makers — but listen to calls from your customer's point of view. Send recorded calls that request action to top executives, give compliments about products, or provide ideas for new services or products. Bring those furthest from the customer back in touch with the business of building loyalty.
A Property Experts Advice
An opportunity is always there for the sales person whoknows higher commissions result when value is created for the customer. I often hear "Sell what you've got!" or "Just close the sale; give them whatever they will buy" when doing so does not add value for the customer. This approach really means get a one time commission for the sales person and don't consider creating customer loyalty. Just making the sale is a short term answer, giving a customer a solution and meeting their need gives the sales rep and the company real value.
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Lets say you are a sales person dealing in office equipment supplying small businesses and people who work from their homes. One day you get a telephone call from a potential customer who is setting up an office in her house and she needs a telephone. The answer is simple right? Send her a 1 line phone for her new desk. WRONG!!
The example above is NOT selling. The example is called placing an order. Lets try it again with a different approach.
Selling is qualifying, evaluating and then conditioning. I usually recommend asking at least three things for every sale. Try getting to know the customers needs, their environment, and what they are really trying to do; ask some questions.
- "What type of business do you do?"
- "How many telephone lines do you have in your home? Do you have one telephone number for your main house and another for your business? "
- "How much time do you spend on the phone? Do you spend all your day in the office or do you ever need to go and do other things around the house when you have free time?"
- It is a pretty good assumption that if someone is setting up a home office they do not have their customers coming to their front door. They probably do not have a lot of in person customer contact. The first answer will give you an overview of their environment.
- Logically most people will have a second business line for their home so that they can distinguish between work and personal calls. Even if they have only one main number they are likely to have another line for a fax and/or internet connection as well. So the chances are very strong that the person has at least two phone lines.
- We need to know their habits and uses if we are going to find the customer the most useful solution. We also need to find an up sell and offer them added value. Our third question has given us that potential.
We have evaluated the customer, determined both potential and existing needs, and offered solutions to those needs. We asked a few simple questions that made the customer think and focus on the topic, their answers gave us our sales approach and all we did was fill in the blanks. We revealed some solutions and provided suggestions as to how they could be more productive in their day. We did much more that just sell them something, be became a resource to them. Chances are that they will choose the solution that we offered because be have shown that it not only fits there needs but surpasses them. In the worst case scenario the customer may not end up buying the product that we are recommending but they are sure to buy something similar. We provided them with value and made ourselves into a resource instead of just taking a order. They are also much more likely to come to us the next time they have a problem because we went the extra step and got to know what they really wanted instead of just what they thought they should get.
The secret to being a successful and professional sales executive is to evaluate the customers need and provide a varied selection from your portfolio of products & services that will work as a solution. You must be able to match your customer's problem with the appropriate solution. Forcing a pair of pliers to do the job of a wrench is not a solution. The pliers may get the job done but it will not give the customer the confidence to turn to you the next time they have a need.
The amount of money you earn is directly related to the quantity and quality of the work you do. The ability to uncover a need and provide a solution is directly related to your customers satisfaction and their likelihood of being a repeat customer. Sell the solution and the product will sell itself.
For this example the answers are fairly straight forward: "I am a consultant who spends most of my day in my office, this is mainly because I constantly need to be at my desk so that I can answer the phone. I don't always want my customers to know that I work from my house so I have a dedicated 2nd phone line for my business. The last thing I need is for my kids to pick up the phone or for my personal voicemail to kick in right when I am closing a big deal.
Like any good consultant or sales person my customers need to be able to get hold of me. My customers expect to be able to reach me right away and if I miss their call then it means that I need to call them back. I end up having to call they back two or three times because we always get stuck in the "tag your it voicemail hell." Also since I am a consultant I do a lot of conference calls, I spend a great deal of time talking but usually do paperwork or try and get other things done if I don't have to focus all my attention on the topic at hand."
We have learned a lot from those three questions and I think we can offer her a potential solution that will do more than just allow her to answer a call. So lets see what we can offer her.
"I think I have a more effective solution for you than just getting a telephone for your desk. By getting a two line cordless phone for you we can solve a lot of issues and also give you some mobility so that you are not tied to your desk for the entire day. It will also give you the ability to be more productive by allowing you to do other things around the house while you are doing your every day work.
Think of it this way; if you pick up your cordless phone in the morning you can carry it with you all day. You can answer or make calls from any place in your house and if you need both hands free you can just put on a headset and clip the phone on to your waistband. You could be working on you computer, writing or moving around your office with both hand free and with complete freedom or even making lunch, fold clothes, or water the lawn while you are on those long conference calls. By using a headset attached to your cordless you would sound much better than if you were on a speaker phone or sitting with your neck cradling the phone as you tried to talk.