You probably know why loyalty is important. You’re probably just here to find out how to increase customer loyalty with live chat in particular.
Well if that is the case, you’ll have to wait. For those unsure on why loyal customers are so important, we’re going to do a quick recap first.
The success of your business depends on how many products and services you can sell.
How many you can sell depends on how many people decide to buy from you.
Yep, business 101 so far really.
So you put money into your marketing budget to attract more customers...but this can be quite expensive. Your competitors are going after the same advertising space and keywords, and a lot of this marketing is imitable. Competitors can follow suit and the growth of your customer base doesn’t really justify the cost of the marketing campaigns.
So instead of spending all of your money attracting new customers, you should also be considering how you can keep those customers that are already buying from you.
Loads of people are already doing it, imagine if you could get them to buy from you again and again and again…
That’s customer loyalty.
Building customer loyalty doesn’t cost as much as a brand spanking new marketing campaign. In fact, it’s 6-7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep one.
To build customer loyalty you need to offer something your competitors can’t. Marketing, discounts and even your products (to some degree) are imitable. Great experiences and an emotional connection to your brand are pretty much 100% inimitable.
Customer loyalty is bloody powerful stuff! That’s why Starbucks can charge about 50% more than the majority of your independent, local coffee stores.
So as we’ve just reminded ourselves, increasing customer loyalty requires your customers to have emotional connections with your brand, and experiences they generally love and remember. The occasional discount or trendy marketing campaign won’t keep them coming back.
How can you do this with live chat and your live chat agents? Well here’s 4 things we do at The Chat Shop, on behalf of our live chat outsourcing customers:
- Go one step further
- Empower agents
- Really listen to customers
- Build relationships
What are you waiting for? Get scrolling and get reading how to increase customer loyalty.
1. Go one step further
You’ve heard it time and time again...you need to do more than offer basic customer service. You need to exceed customer expectations!
You hear it so often because it’s true. But I’ve got good news, live chat (and your website analytics) have a handy trick up their sleeves for exceeding expectations.
The trick is interacting with a customer before their small issue becomes a big problem for them or your brand. This is what we like to call proactive live chat...but you can call it proactive support, preventative support or pretty much anything else you want.
To get this to work right, you need to pick the right interaction points by studying your website analytics data. Look at the behaviours that are likely to create a service interaction e.g.: error codes, searching customer service pages or taking too long to convert.
Once you have these identified, look at getting the customer the support they need before they go looking for it. Basically, set live chat up to invite them to chat when it looks like they need some help.
Zero to hero just like that. This is a core strategy of our customer service programme.
Going the extra mile also means doing something a little off script. Don’t just provide a basic FAQs service through live chat. Why bother with live chat if you are doing that? Just have an FAQs page.
Your agents should do their all to provide customers with solutions to their problems and great recommendations for their buying needs.
So even if you don’t have a vast knowledge base with over 200 data points, agents should be able to find the answer. Even if the problem actually concerns a different company, if a quick Google can help a distressed customer...do it!
A brand that goes one step further to provide a better service and to keep me happy...sounds like a brand I could buy from time and time again.
2. Empower agents
Your live chat agents can’t be customer support heroes if they have to follow too many rules.
(Yep, that is some of our support heroes looking "heroic" in their capes).
Yes, you want them to be nice to all customers and you don’t want them to use obscene language (both go without saying) but you also want them to be able to take the reins and do what they need to do to please a customer.
You have to go one step further to make customers loyal, so you have to empower your agents.
So how do you give live chat agents the freedom to do something amazing without them going too far or spending far too long with one customer? Well surprise, surprise I’m going to share a few of our very own techniques.
First off, make sure agents know what they are trying to achieve with live chat. Sounds simple but they should know things like whether they are supposed to just point customers to the right help article (we don’t suggest this) or lead them through to a full solution (we do suggest this). So even if they do go that extra mile, they know the basic requirements they are still aiming to achieve.
Secondly, provide a suggested conversation flow. Not a script but the information points the agent needs to discover in order to achieve what they are supposed to achieve.
Thirdly, provide basic dos and don’ts to make sure chats don’t become too informal or abstract and your agents still stick to brand guidelines.
Finally, use a quality assurance process to encourage and praise agents when they do go the extra mile. Analyse a variety of factors such as tone of voice, speed, knowledge and empathy too, to make sure that agents are providing awesome chats. Provide an opportunity for you and the agents themselves to review chats - give them an opportunity to learn from other agents and learn how they can provide a better experience to customers.
3. Really listen to customers
Listening to your customers isn’t a very fancy trick to making them loyal but some customer service teams do seem to forget this basic concept.
Back to the friend analogy to help explain. If a friend was telling you about their problem and you only vaguely paid attention, and then gave them some generic response such as “awh no, that sucks”...you’d suck as a friend.
Don’t do it with your friends. Don’t do it if you want to build relationships with customers. Show empathy and provide a solution that is personalised to their situation - not some computer generated or canned response.
You know the kind of live chat I’m talking about. Those where you introduce yourself and the problem you’re trying to get fixed - then you receive an automated “Hey, my name is Brian, how can I help you today?” I just told you Brian! Repeat my problem a couple more times, answer some arbitrary questions and Brian then finally starts to provide a solution (but still in a rather robotic manner).
There’s another way of listening too. You don’t just want to listen so that you can provide the right solution, you should also listen so that you can improve your product/service in the long term. Learn how you can be a more supportive friend.
Service interactions are seldom used as a tool set to improve but they’re a gold mine.
Chat is one of those channels where customers really feel the ability to open up. There’s a little anonymity and the right chatter can encourage a customer to lay out all of their thoughts and feelings on you and the solutions you provide.
What if a customer isn’t happy with your delivery options? Or what if some customers think you could do with tweaking your core product a little? Or maybe there’s loads of people in a country that you don’t currently ship to, that really want to be buying from you on the regular.
Well this is all awesome feedback that you should be listening to, actioning, growing your business with and reporting back to customers on (so you show them how loyal you are). Sounds like a win-win. You learn how to keep customers and gain more, whilst making customers doubly loyal in the act.
Provide agents with an open channel for sharing feedback from customers with your decision makers. Add a post chat survey to your software so that you provide even more feedback opportunities. Do a shout out to your customers (via email or your blog for example) when you turn their awesome ideas into reality.
4. Build relationships
Would you rather buy a used car from a friend or from a stranger?
Pretty silly question - you’d go for friend every time. The trust you have in that relationship means you can trust that they won’t sell you an absolute lemon.
But it’s not just large ticket items that are easier to buy when there’s trust. Everything from ballpoint pens to B2B services require trust before any money changes hands. Take shopping online: even if I have to pay a couple of quid more to buy from a company I trust, I’ll do it to ensure I get what I want.
You’ll find that most people would agree.
So how do you build relationships with live chat? Well, just treat chatters as you would your friends basically.
Friends are honest. Never try and trick or coax a customer into buying a product or service. Your live chat agents are supposed to be there to genuinely help.
Yes, live chat can be used to increase sales BUT you should increase sales through providing great service. Solve barriers to conversion but don’t trick someone into thinking the product is better than it really is. Or that the product is perfect for them when you actually know it won’t fit their needs.
They’ll just return it next week. And they’ll never buy from you again!
Friends remember each other’s names (duh - although I’m pretty awful with names to be honest). So before you chat, make sure you ask customers for their name with a pre chat survey. And make sure your live chat software is actually able to pull up chat history - so you can do more than remember their name but also other valuable information that’s been provided in the past.
Finally, friends make each other feel appreciated. The occasional hug or thank you seems to cut it in real world relationships.
In the digital world of customer service relationships, saying thank you to your customers is also a great start. You can also be genuinely empathetic when they face any issues - to show you are there for them in return for them being there for you.
You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how valuable loyal customers are. Some of the biggest brands in the world focus on retaining customers rather than marketing to new ones. Because, why spend so much just trying to convince new people to choose you when you already have a large customer base?
Putting your existing customers first and building a relationship with them is the best way of keeping them coming back.
Follow our 4 methods of increasing customer loyalty in your live chat support and your customers will be your new best friends in no time.
Maintain that relationship in every interaction by providing exceptional service, empowering agents and really listening to your customers, and you’ll be providing something that your competitors won’t be able to imitate.
Want to turn your customers into a loyal group of friends? Our customer service programme will make them love you in no time.