“Thank you for calling. Please listen to our new menu options, so we can route your call to the appropriate department. We have received your inquiry. A representative will respond within 48 hours.” Nowadays, responses like these are commonplace. As a multitude of companies automate their services to drive down their costs as much as possible. Speaking to a live person may take ages by the time you’ve pressed every number on the key pad on your phone. A simple question regarding the in-stock date of a product may take two days to receive an electronic reply. Welcome to the reality of, a day in the life of a consumer.
Certainly, anyone who owns or operates a business will always explore options to cut costs. However, sometimes these cutbacks, such as the examples mentioned, can leave a client frustrated or perplexed, feeling like a ‘number’ in the eyes of the company and encapsulated in a wicked cycle of going through hurdles to reach a live person. Alas, none of these recourses will be ceasing any time soon. When companies converge to these means, it’s vital that they still focus on the overall consumer ‘experience.’ Our clients allow us to have a company, jobs and livelihoods, to name a few. Keeping your client base is pivotal to the success, growth and fiscal stability of your company. Therefore, making his/her experience and interaction with your business should be as effortless and simplistic from start to finish. Here are five key strategies you can deploy for client retention and satisfaction:
I. Endeavor to Answer/Resolve an Inquiry within 24 hours
If a client inquiries about a product, has a question, an issue or concern, the more rapid the response or resolution, the better. Your client’s time is just as valuable as yours. Endeavor to answer inquiries within a 24 hour window during your normal hours of operation. Obviously, if there is a scenario that requires research or may be complex, advise the client of a projected time for a reply or possible resolution.
II. Reach a live representative with ease
If your company has heavy call volume, be sure you have a ‘hunt’ feature with your phone service options. This routes the call to the first available representative. Look at your employee hold times, to be sure they’re not too high as well as after call work.
A) Add the options to your IVR or voice menu, to encourage your client to contact your company via email for a rapid response, engage in online chat in real time (if equipped) or leave a message with a call back number. Aim to call the person back within 2 hours of the call.
B)Smaller businesses should consider additional phone lines with dedicated phone reps to ensure calls are answered quickly and in a timely fashion.
III. The Art of Consistency
Train your staff efficiently on your company policies and procedures, educate them on your products and services. Provide the tools and training on the type of inquiries your company tends to see the most often, common trends and any arising issues with suggested remedies. The better prepared your staff is, the better equipped they will be to answer various clients’ inquiries with better and expeditious resolutions.
A) Ensure your staff follows through on inquiries such as follow up phone calls, sending literature, researching an issue etc.
B) Many disenchanted and irate clients contend that their number one frustration is when a company fails to follow up on his/her issue.
IV. Focus on resolutions, not excuses
People aren’t interested in a myriad of excuses when it comes to resolving an inquiry or issue. They seek a resolution, so they have an answer and can move forward. Establish verbiage in place and a plan of action for the situation at hand. If you don’t, then formulate one and follow up with the client.
V. The power of “Acknowledgement”
It’s important to address and acknowledge your client, whether it’s for him/her electing your company to shop with, offer a suggestion to improve business or bring a trend to your attention so it can be rectified. Regardless of the scenario, acknowledge your client, value the time he/she has given to you and your company and thank that person for it. A client wants to know he/she has been heard and your company is listening.
A) I always express my gratitude to my clients for shopping with our company, at times, I also send personal thank you cards too. They can go anywhere for their business needs, but in the end, they chose us. Extending that acknowledgement to them can make a difference and add personalization to their experience.
The strategies shared here are for reference and serve as an overall compass. Every business will vary in size, infrastructure and client base. Explore the resources you have in hand, to determine the best recourse(s) for your clients’. Consider if you are the client of your business, how you want to be treated, how your interaction and experience should be. After all, it’s our clients who keep our businesses afloat financially and enable us to have and maintain jobs. Maintain that professional rapport and retention by making sure their needs are met and they have a positive experience, every time.
The practices I have shared exemplify what we have in place at After Hours Creative. We maintain 98% of our client base, because we understand the importance of client satisfaction from start to finish. Every inquiry, order and client is dealt with personally and professionally at all times. This trickles into our products and craftsmanship as well, with attention to detail, meticulousness in production and deliverance of a superior product.