How can phone calls help your customer success strategy?

Customer success is often understood as ‘customer retention’, ‘managing churn’, and ‘making your users happy’. Not only is it reductive, in fact it can be quite the opposite.

Customer success means doing everything possible to delight your customers – helping them succeed. It is also different from customer happiness in the sense that the focus on helping the customer succeed. This exceeds simple customer satisfaction.

From this point of vue customer success is not something that is cared about in the call centre where the focus goes more towards delivering good customer service.

customer success call center
We will examine how customer success can improve over all interactions with customers in the call center.

What is a success strategy?

Customer success is more than just customer happiness. As Lincoln Murphy, Customer Success evangelist at Gainsight explains:

“What we say is: ‘Don’t solve for happiness, solve for success.’ That might mean we have to push our customers to do what they need to do to achieve success, and that can be uncomfortable. Our job is to help our customers be successful, not make them happy.”

Customer success is not about managing churn, although at some point it contributes to lower churn rates. It’s not about bringing value to the customer faster. As we discussed in our previous article, faster doesn’t necessarily mean better. Customers are way more receptive to how you answer their requests than the rapidity of it.

Lincoln Murphy continues:

“The customer is not always right. If they’re doing something that is not working towards their desired outcome, we need to call them out on it. Sometimes, it means telling them we’re not the right fit for them. Sometimes it means telling them they need to get their act together. In any case, if they don’t achieve their desired outcome, they will blame us.”

The successful customer in the call center

The first step to delivering customer success is to have a clear customer-orientated vision that you can communicate with your staff. The easiest way to define this vision is to create a set of statements that act as guiding principles for your organisation. One way to make this memorable is to create a mnemonic that reflects the key expectations that your customers have whenever they interact with you. As an exemple, “SMILE” means Sharp, Mirror, Interact, Listen, and Energy.

Once these principles are in place, they drive the behaviours of your staff – the acid test of customer-centricity is that every member of your team should know these statements “off by heart” – because they are embedded into every training, monitoring and development task they do.

Building upon these customer principles, the next step is to bring to life the different types of customers who deal with your contact centre operation. If your staff are really going to understand customers’ needs and wants then they need to be able to empathise with the situation that a customer faces.

One way of doing this is to create life-size cut-out models of different customer types, like personas. Give them names and personalities of their own that front line staff can recognise and understand. Why go to the trouble of understanding customer personalities as well as needs? You do this because memorable customer experience is best created when an agent achieves an emotional connection with a customer.

Customer success vs customer feedback

So how do you know the impact that your operation is having on customer experience? Clearly you need to be able to measure it, by capturing feedback, ideally in a real-time manner. Post-interaction surveys can be delivered using a variety of automated tools via text message, email and post-call IVR surveys, and you can even make outbound calls to a sample of customers to gain more insightful feedback.

It is also important to be able to tie that customer feedback back to a particular agent transaction. That means every team member in your operation knows the difference that they are making to the outcome that customers really want.

The next step is to be able to pinpoint the training needs for each individual member of your team. Many operations are already using call and email assessments to check the quality of interactions, and a quality framework takes this one step further by scheduling and tracking agent development activities through a variety of coaching.

Tips and best practices

Phones should take priority over emails
Phones should take priority over emails, because people who call are people who require an instant response.
By contrast, emails come in from people who don’t expect an immediate response and are happier to wait that bit longer.

Segment customers by revenue to look after your top spenders
Segment customers by Average Revenue Per User (ARPU), so the more they spend, the quicker they will get through to an agent.
This will help ensure that your top customers get the VIP treatment they deserve.

Encourage your agents to take ownership of problems
Encourage agents to take ownership of problems and spend time dealing with the customer, rather than escalating or passing over the problem.
This gives agents a real sense of pride in their job and means they are taking their own action very seriously.

Monitor the number of call-backs to ensure agents get it right first time
Analyse whether customers have to call back – if you can allow agents to get it right first time, the extra few minutes that might take means that the customer has had a resolution on the first attempt, so saves cost in the long run!

Tailor your service for each customer
Tailor your customer experience to the needs of each individual who comes through to your contact centre.

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