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Minimize Customer Churn: Take Personalization to the Next-Level

January 31, 2018

Consumer appetite for intelligent home technologies is likely to continue its rapid growth, making gifts such as Wi-Fi enabled thermostats the most sought-after items to give and receive well after the holiday season is over. The attraction? A new level of ‘hyper-relevance’ consumers haven’t experienced before – marking the start of a shift that will force companies to rethink how they interact with, serve and sell to customers craving smarter, more intuitive devices they can easily manage, control, and monitor from anywhere.


As consumers engage with next-level technologies, their demand for these highly personalized customer service experiences is soaring. According to new research from Accenture Strategy, poor customer service personalization and lack of trust cost U.S. organizations $756 billion last year, as 41 percent of consumers switched companies. These challenges underscore the need to refocus on providing the best customer service to retain existing and new customers – there is too much at stake to not get this right.

In a new world of internet of things (IoT) and connected home technology, tried and true tactics are in line for a shakeup. Driving customer engagement through operational excellence – bolstered by deep, ongoing insights into customer behavior – will make or break a company’s ability to have their customers’ loyalty, and ultimately increase profitability and growth in this new playing field.

As a business reaches a certain threshold is size and scope, some clear priorities begin to emerge, which include: growing connects (or the base of customers), drive higher average revenue per customer, improving the customer experience and, the most critical, increasing customer tenure (or in other words reducing churn). Leading companies have started to recognize that hyper-relevant customer service experiences are a necessary strategy to driving customer engagement and help reduce churn.

Comcast, for example, has shown remarkable success improving its customer service engagements by personalizing several aspects of their day-to-day operations and interactions with customers – both in person and online, while utilizing both cutting-edge data and plain old good listening skills. Among the personalization efforts that Comcast has put in place, the company focuses on tailoring the in-home experience, offering a seamless onboarding experience and using push notifications to follow up, especially with new customers. See below for more insights.

OPERATIONAL TACTICS TO DRIVE ENGAGEMENT AND PRODUCT AWARENESS

1. TAILORING THE EXPERIENCE

Whether a company has a sales staff, technicians or both, there are many opportunities to offer a tailored experience to welcome new customers in person. For instance, companies that send technicians to install services have a valuable – though often-missed – opportunity to deliver a one-on-one personalized product training that can help establish customer loyalty. Instead of simply leaving behind materials for your new customers to read and educate themselves on their new purchase, have the technician show the customer how to use the service or product. Customers with a strong understanding of how to use their new system or service and all the features available to them before the technician leaves their home—be it a Xfinity Home system or a newly installed smart-thermostat – will use and engage with the system. Typically, customers who do not engage with a new product or service will cancel or return it after a period of inactivity.

These are some additional tips for any technician or in-home consultant to onboard a new customer:

  • Play an online video for the customer, showcasing product features and usage options.
  • Ask questions about the customer’s usage and configure the system based on their unique preferences.
  • Walk customers through signing up and downloading the related mobile app for use on the go.
  • Make sure the customer can fully operate the system in the technician’s presence – so they can ask any questions and avoid any confusion.
  • Leave behind contact details and onboarding materials for future support.

2. HIGHLY PERSONALIZED ONBOARDING CALLS

While an in-person technician or in-home consultant visit can arm customers with knowledge about operating their new system or service, it can be a lot to absorb all at once. It’s imperative to follow up to make sure the new system is meeting your new customer’s needs and expectations.

To achieve this successfully, we recommend calling or connecting online with all new customers to understand their personal experience with the product or service, keeping the following in mind when you follow up:

  • Make it personalized – avoid reading from a script.
  • Use the customer’s data to anticipate issues and questions – for example, data might indicate that a customer had issues last week arming their home with the new security system. Offer to review what could have potentially gone wrong to help ensure the customers knows how to use the system or service.
  • Understand your customers’ common issues and pitfalls – reference data from surveys taken by existing and/or past customers to understand what types of information your new customer may need to know.
  • Make it conversational – let the customer guide the conversation rather than going over every element. Listen to their needs and then offer any advice or tutorial.

3. SMARTER PUSH NOTIFICATION STRATEGY

A truly personalized onboarding calls operation should be combined with a smarter push notification strategy as well. Push notification enablement marks a highly valuable new touchpoint for businesses to engage with their customers. True industry leaders tailor their push notifications directly by tracking daily interactions customers have with their system, product or service and alerting customers about how they can use it better.

Specifically:

Offer Relevant and Helpful Updates: Determine what types of daily interactions your customers have with the system, product or service and how it compares with the desired experience. For instance, consider this sample push notification: “We have noticed you have not armed your home security system this week. Do you know you can automatically arm and disarm your home at your desired time any day of week? Click here to learn more and to set it up.”

  • Share What’s New: Sharing the latest feature or providing an update gives you an opportunity to interact with your customers. For instance, consider this sample push notification: “We have noticed that your thermostat is set at the same temperature throughout the day. Do you know you can save some money and reduce energy consumption by using our recently launched smart energy rules? Click here to see how it works.”
  • Proactively Fix Issues: Inform the customer of actions they need to take before an alarm goes off or an issue arises. For instance, consider this sample push notification: “Our system indicates that you will need a battery replacement in 15 days. Click here for battery details and how to replace it. For further help—click here to chat or talk with one of our support specialists.”

THE FRAMEWORK FOR GROWTH

So, how can leaders put these best practices into action and create a successful customer engagement framework? Regardless of the industry, key strategies to achieve the most benefit of hyper-relevance necessitates the following:

  • Create a Customer Engagement Dashboard: A key step to show measurable, actionable metrics to drive engagement from the onset. Map the customer path from Order to Cancellation, identifying breakpoints in the journey.
  • Invest in Analytics and Business Operations: Form a dedicated BizOps group to assess and analyze business operations to identify inefficiencies and improve communication using analytics. This group will work on a portfolio of cross functional projects and business problems that otherwise may go unsolved.
  • Listen to Customers and Frontline Agents: Oftentimes, frontline agents have the deepest insights into the customer journey. Create an internal forum for customer engagement information to flow to all levels of the organization.
  • Talk (and Listen!) to Customers: All senior leaders should make at-least 2-3 customer calls per month to hear directly from the customers. Don’t rely just on email. Take charge of these conversations first-hand.
  • Invest in a Business Operations Team: Once a business is established, and particularly after a growth spurt, it’s important to periodically assess and analyze business operations to identify inefficiencies and improve communication. The BizOps function consists of a team that wears multiple hats and works on a portfolio of cross-functional projects and business problems that may not be “owned” anywhere else in the company. Size and scale varies, but both startups and large tech incumbents are investing in their BizOps team.

Leadership in this new era of hyper-relevance necessitates a balance of strategy with execution by investing in technologies and skills that leverage deep real-time customer insights. When combined with a commitment to operational innovation, your business can deliver the highly personalized customer service experiences your customers crave – and help put a halt once and for all to the customer churn that is costing companies billions.




Edited by Mandi Nowitz

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