How To Develop a Customer Service Strategy That Delivers
What constitutes a good customer service strategy?
Obviously, service that improves customer experiences. A strategy that is both overarching and tactical. But, perhaps most importantly, a strategy that delivers tangible results.
Customer service strategies are easy to ideate, but more difficult to actually implement and maintain. However, since customers are usually willing to spend more to shop with companies who have proven customer service, the results of a great customer service strategy can have a long-running impact on your brand loyalty, retention and bottom-line.
Since customer experience is so hands-on, a great strategy needs to be actionable, so you can start implementing it right away. However, that doesn’t mean your tactics should outweigh the strategic thinking behind them—rather, they should work alongside each other to create a holistic plan that improves customer experiences from start to finish.
But how do you actually go about creating a customer service strategy? Start with these six tactical touchpoints to create a customer service strategy that delivers.
Focus On The Customer
Of course, the most essential component of a customer service strategy is a customer focus. Before you can improve the customers’ experience, you have to know what they want. Considering that personalization is a major component of today’s customer service and experiences, customers’ expect that brands will know and understand them, and cater to their needs.
Take a look at some recent data around customer expectations and personalization:
- 59% of consumers say personalization is “very important” for their customer experience.
- 49% of consumers say they’re more likely to purchase again from companies who offer personalized experiences
- Consumers spend approximately 34% more on average when their experiences are personalized.
As the data suggests, personalization is not only expected by consumers, it’s also rewarding for businesses. Customer-centric companies are more profitable, have increased brand loyalty and improved customer retention. Their increased loyalty and retention also reduces churn, which lowers customer acquisition costs as well. In the end, the more companies focus on their customer, the more effective their marketing and interactions tend to become, which strengthens customer satisfaction and profitability.
On the other hand, a lack of customer focus can be the downfall of otherwise profitable businesses. Ignoring customer preferences and needs can derail customer trust and loyalty and reduce product-market fit over the long-term. Customer needs and preferences evolve quickly, which means that brands who make a concentrated effort to keep up with customer desires will win in the customer experience.
Map out your Customer Journey
Mapping out the customer journey is an invaluable exercise that allows your team to get a holistic overview of all of your customer interactions across all touchpoints, platforms and channels. Not only will this help you understand the customer better and more effectively solve for their needs, it can help you uncover inefficiencies in your customer journey and prioritize opportunities for improvement and solutions.
How does customer journey mapping work?
First, you’ll need to create customer personas, or segments, based on common customer profiles. These personas can include data such as location, age or other demographic data, average number of repeat purchases, and more. With your personas outlined, you can work through the data to understand the primary touchpoints for each customer persona.
For example, younger customers may be more likely to interact with your brand first via social media channels, while older customers may be more likely to visit your brand’s in-person locations. Either way, you’ll need to map the sequence of the customer journey from discovery to awareness to purchase and post-purchase touchpoints. As you do so, you can understand the critical touchpoints or decision-making junctures along the customer journey.
Focus on the Data
A data-driven customer service strategy will always deliver results—as long as you’re collecting the right data and pairing that with execution and ongoing data analysis.
Many companies get stuck trying to measure every piece of data rather than focusing on the essential metrics. But which metrics are really essential? For most customer service strategies, focusing on two types of data—customer experience metrics and operational metrics—is a good place to begin.
Customer experience metrics, as the name suggests, include those that directly measure the customer’s experience—for example, CSAT (Customer Satisfaction), NPS (Net Promoter Score) and CES (Customer Effort Score). In addition, paying attention to feedback that comes directly from the customer, such as reviews, survey responses, and common customer complaints, can provide valuable insights and trends.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to keep your customer service team closely connected with your data analytics team. Since your customer service team talks directly to your customers day-in and day-out, it’s likely that they have a good grasp of overall trends and customer complaints. By connecting them with your data analysis team, you can get a more holistic overview of customer needs, preferences and habits.
The second kind of data essential for a data-driven customer service strategy is operational data. This includes things like average time in queue, average hold time, first call resolution and so on. While customer experience metrics give you a picture of how customers are feeling about their interactions with your brand, operational data gives you hard metrics into performance and trends over time. These data points are instantly actionable—for example, reducing average hold time or improving FCR rates.
Tracking KPIs related to both CX and operational metrics can help you understand where you need to improve and what is most (or least) important to customers.
Use the Right Tools
Of course, it’s difficult to execute a customer service strategy—or even get the data you need to support one—without the right tools. However, finding the right customer service tools can feel like a mammoth undertaking in itself.
Every customer service team needs at least three basic tools:
- quality call center software,
- a good CRM solution, and
- customer analytics software.
Some contact center solutions will offer multiple of these in one software platform, other companies prefer to purchase them separately. For a more complete guide of contact center and customer engagement solutions necessary—and which are best—for customer service, check out our complete guide to customer service software.
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In addition, there are a number of modern customer service tools that can optimize your customer service and customer engagement. For example, self-service tools such as chatbots or knowledge bases allow you to offer customers what they want and need—accurate answers and speedy service—without having to accordingly scale your team.
Similarly, automation and AI tools can help you improve both operational metrics and agent success by helping you reduce repetitive tasks, process data faster, analyze customer sentiment and more.
Ideally, all of your tools should integrate to help you run an omnichannel customer service strategy, one that is seamless for the customer and provides connected touch points across any channels you’re active on.
Hire the Right Team
Of course, the right data and the right tools are only the foundation—without an experienced team to implement and execute your strategy, even the best strategies will under-perform.
After all, your customer service agents are the ones who are implementing your strategy and interacting with customers day-in and day-out on behalf of your brand. Hiring the right team is essential to a good customer service strategy!
In addition, you need to attend to agent training, ongoing upskilling and placement. For example, a recent study found that less than 30% of customer service agents feel empowered to do their jobs well, and 62% feel they need additional skills-based training to improve performance. What this points to: hiring is just the first step. Beyond that, investing in your agents is an investment in your customer service—and many companies need to do more to invest in agent training and upskilling.
Ensuring that you have the right people in the right positions is another critical factor of creating an effective customer service team. Not only does this improve productivity and efficiency, but it can also improve employee engagement and satisfaction if each of your team members are working in roles that are truly great fits.
“Customer service is critical in the business world. One way a struggling business can transform their customer support or service into a 5-star experience is to find out if their employees are working in areas where they’re the best fit. Employee psychological well-being and organizational fit are important components of employee job satisfaction and organizational growth.” – J. Ibeh Agbanyim, Focused Vision Consulting, LLC
For teams who don’t have the resources or time to build the right team from scratch, outsourcing your customer service is a reliable option for reduced management and improved results. Instead of sourcing, hiring, training and managing an entire team in-house, you can let an experienced industry leader do the work of building and managing your team, passing the benefits of expertise, scalability and execution on to you.
Always Be Improving
Finally, once you’ve developed your customer service strategy, create an ongoing feedback loop so you can continue improving at all times. Ongoing feedback loops allow you to have structures in place to listen to and implement customer feedback—one of the easiest ways to understand what is working and what isn’t.
Of course, you should gather and implement internal feedback as well. Customer service agents, managers, quality assurance leaders and other customer service team members should all weigh in on the process, workflows and future improvements to optimize your process. In addition, customer service agents will be the most well-acquainted with common customer complaints, which means they can provide valuable feedback for other parts of your workflow as well.
“An easy and powerful way to completely transform your customer experience is to learn from other industries. Where have you had a 5-star experience lately? What specifically made you feel that way? Sometimes it’s as simple as taking the time to really hear the customer, and other times it’s simplifying the process. By looking to other industries, we step out of old patterns and set new standards.” – Elise Montgomery, Coach Elise Montgomery
While there’s a number of sources to get improvement feedback—from your own experiences, from other companies, from your agents and customers, it’s essential to ensure that you are tracking and measuring KPIs as well. Combining quantitative feedback with qualitative feedback is always the most effective strategy.
Customer Service Strategy Examples
What kind of ROI can you expect from your customer service strategy?
Of course, that depends on your strategy—and how expertly it’s implemented—but take a look at some of the customer service strategies we’ve helped our clients design and implement and the results they’ve gotten.
Focusing on the customer
One of our clients, a meal-prep delivery service, was working with a customer service vendor that wasn’t providing results. Their customers were often left feeling unhappy or unheard, which was increasing churn rates and negative reviews.
When we stepped in to partner with them, we implemented a top-down customer focus approach. By partnering management with team leads for shadowed coaching sessions, we were able to upgrade agent training and upskilling. We also implemented a customer service strategy that emphasized acknowledgement, empathy and ownership throughout all customer interactions, and designed internal metrics and reports to measure growth in these areas.
As a result, our client was able to see improved CSAT scores, lowered attrition rates and increased customer retention. Customer focus was the first step of implementing a human-first, relational customer service strategy that delivered results for their bottom line.
Scaling satisfaction with the right tools
A health and wellness consumer brand was also looking to provide the best customer service possible—but doing so at scale as they grew was proving more difficult than they’d imagined.
As a result, when ROI CX Solutions came on board, we started by transitioning them from their existing CRM to a more effective CRM platform for their needs, a project that our client was struggling to complete without the appropriate resources. We worked together with their internal team to create and fine-tune new workflows, track consumer data and ramp up their consumer analytics. Through streamlined operations, increased data and improved customer service protocols, we were able to help our client achieve 98% positive customer survey scores and reduce customer returns.
Not only did streamlined operations and improved service increase customer satisfaction, but it also enabled their team to become more agile and provided additional resources to scale up service to meet demand.
If you need more support to take your customer experience to the next level, consider an outsourcing partner that can help you map out the customer journey, hire the right team and manage your tools and KPIs for continued growth. Here at ROI CX Solutions, we have decades of experience improving customer experiences and customer service for brands both large and small across a variety of industries.
Connect with an expert today to see how ROI CX Solutions can improve your customer service, help you meet your goals and improve your bottom line.