Startups are often thought to be all about acquiring customers at rapid pace, and scale up to be a unicorn within a short span of time. A lot goes into perfecting the secret sauce of success, including marketing strategies, perfecting product, innovating technology, availing funding and more. However, one can only convert an early stage venture into a sustainable business when they are successful in building loyal customer base.
Businesses simply do not exist to sell products once -- No! That temptation is not something that smart and scalable startups surrender to. They ideate, roll up their sleeves and step up to the plate – for not only getting a new customer on board but also to try and set a certain frequency for such a sale. This means relying on the number of times you serve the same client to help usher in sustainability. An integral part of customer management lies in customer retention -- most businesses overlook this initially, and run the rat-race of new customer acquisition. A high quality customer experience begins at the first interaction with the brand – and continues through every stage of the relationship.
If you want to know how to enhance the customer service experience, then here’s something you need to know:
Setting the standards
Setting standards at all levels is important for branding exercise. What, how and where do you communicate as a business defines your brand perception. Also, it brings clarity to your clients on what to expect from you!
Being available to assist existing and prospective users is the first step towards achieving excellence in customer experience. And your availability may often boil down to the modes of communication you leverage to let customer connect to you. People tend to believe that social media comments and messages will avail them a faster response. However, they are often disappointed when they are not personally addressed on such platforms. Informing users as to where you are available is important. It helps in managing customer communication with limited resources, as you don’t have to chase multiple channels.
Maybe you can have an on-site chat option. That’s what we at Legalwiz.in do. We enable customers to contact us via chat where our dedicated personnel respond to their queries instantly. You may also have a toll-free number to make things easier. Also, tech advancements like smart chatbots who can process natural language help immensely to filter communication and also sort to concerned person within the team. It helps to create relevancy and personalisation in the process.
There are times when you want to reach out to customers and it may not necessarily be for selling. Know how frequently you can communicate to customers and in what manner. This means, you can get in touch with them while they are placing an order and you observe if they are experiencing any issues. Again, after-sales communication is also necessary, hence setting up the frequency is imperative. Start by sending newsletters, service emailers, and feedback emails as well. Don’t overdo it. There must be a balance between promotional emails and newsletters. It keeps users informed while paving the way to keep them posted and feed them with updates. It is ideal to test the frequency of communication, along with the other attributes like language, tone, information, and more. Pick what suits your business, there is no cookie-cutter approach to success here.
Setting the tone
Tonality is vital. Every brand has a tone – depending upon the nature of business. For example, at LegalWiz.in, we follow an authoritative tone rather than an entertaining one which contributes to build brand perception. On the other hand, brands involved in selling fragrances (perfumes and deodorants) may apply a fun and contemporary tone. Having an authoritative tone for a kid’s brand is counter-productive. Therefore, engaging a certain tone to communicate with customers is important. Also, ensure that it remains constant across all modes and touchpoints (chat, phone calls and social media). It is also important to train all client-facing employees on how to represent brand over individual personalities for certain matters.
Staying available and informative
Distributing targeted as well as mass content is now easy, courtesy technology. This is done on a large scale without involving too many people in the process. Best to have e-mailers to inform and educate your audience regarding the use of your offerings and highlighting its USP. For example, if you are selling organic clothes, inform users that you use the non-Bt seeds which makes it a completely organic product. Be specific in sharing all the required product or service information.
Reinforce the initiative by communicating this to the people answering the customer care number so that they provide brief answers to customers’ queries. Staying available also means cutting down the queues in the customer care number and opening more channels to communicate. Apart from the online resources like FAQs and blogs, equip smart chatbots as well, to cater to user queries efficiently. At some point, human intervention is inevitable but try not to give just public information to the customers. Listen to them and personalise your communication wherever possible. Piggybacking on the first point, ‘staying available’ doesn’t need to be 24X7. However, that clarity is important to be made to the customers.
Balancing funds and resource allocation
Many startups make a huge mistake of allocating most of their limited resources to customer acquisition. Their websites and PRs talk high about how many customers they have served, but the point often missed out on, is how many of them they have served again, or vouched for their services to others. It is required to take a balanced approach here. Every business function needs resources – time and money to function seamlessly. Creating good customer experience needs efforts at various levels like educating customers about the product they purchased, keeping them engaged and encourage to regularly use the product or service, informing about what new is happening at the company, resolving their issues and queries, and anything else that makes a loyalty bond stronger.
Allocating resources across different customer touchpoints is crucial to communicate your post-sales availability. Since customer satisfaction is built gradually, you need to invest funds in all the stages of a product lifecycle to cater to users. Tailored after-sales service spreads positive word of mouth. You will have people buying your products not only for quality but also for how your service simplifies their lives after making the purchase.
Proactive feedback collection and leveraging technology
There’s no way to move further without looking back. Feedback does the same. It allows you to reflect upon your efforts and see how well you fared. Begin with getting feedback from users through various sources like social media, emails, and even making feedback calls. The idea is to proactively collect as much data as possible to evaluate yourself.
Technology has made this job simpler. At LegalWiz.in, this is perhaps the most critical function. We have a sophisticated review collection system that seamlessly integrates with our CRM. Each customer gets a review opportunity after service, and feedback on various customer service related aspects are taken – including website experience, ease of information pass-on, interactions with professionals, and final service outcome. Further, such reviews are quantified into Net Promoter Score, and a layer of NLP is used to analyse their text comments and sentiment analysis. So that we exactly know what is working right and what needs to be fixed. We command an exceptional 9.5/10 customer satisfaction rate, and more than 60 percent revenue MoM from repeat purchasers. Also, it has allowed us to convert people who once had bitter experience with us to now the biggest evangelist of our services within their networks. Also, it is important to hear what people are talking about your brand in social space. Quite a few softwares are available to track sentiments on social media.
Make policies that are reasonable and stick with them
When every business is raising their standards of customer service, and loosening their policies about refunds and returns, they are more vulnerable to being misused. Keep your policies reasonable, and stick to them. It is good to be customer-centric, but also important to make a call where you need to be assertive and push back. It is all about finding right customers for your brand. Even for the same service or product, what creates a value proposition changes from customer to customer. You need to define who should value your offerings, and craft a deal that appeals the specific group the most – it may be pricing, return policies, after-sales service, product innovation, or anything else. Invest most of your customer experience efforts on what will eventually be valued the most by people who are relevant.
In my business, I serve customers who are typically startups and small businesses. What they value is a price point, and more importantly the instant accessibility to professionals at LegalWiz.in that they don’t typically get with bigger firms. This proves to be a game changer for raising customer satisfaction standards. Done over and over again, it becomes a benchmark and inclusive part of the service persona. It creates an identity for your brand that people will recognise and refer.
Shrijay Sheth is the founder of Legalwiz.in. Shrijay Sheth's columns here.