Contributed by Bronze SUBTA Resource Partner, Segpay
The holiday season has officially hit, and it’s already beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Merchants are hoping this year’s sale predictions are on target. According to eMarketer’s 2019 forecast, the total U.S. holiday retail sales will climb 3.8% to $1.008 trillion this year. This would make it the first-ever trillion-dollar holiday season. While it is great news, keep in mind how important this time of year is for retailers. Landing shoppers now is an opportunity to keep them for the long haul.
Segpay isn’t just a payment processor, we’re also a customer support company, handling consumer billing inquiries on behalf of merchants for more than a decade. I thought it might be a good time to share a few lessons learned over the years; most are common sense but are often overlooked.
Good customer service is key to sustaining any successful business. Nowhere is this truer than in recurring revenue models, which depend on keeping customer memberships active over long periods of time. Of course, delivering the content or products customers want is the main way to keep them around. However, one could argue that it is just as important to give consumers the type of support they want and the chance to be heard, making them happier and more loyal long term. So, here are four ways you can keep those holiday customers throughout the year and beyond.
Unfortunately, issues come up and customers want to know what to expect when dealing with support. We’ve found it’s important to have a realistic SLA (Service Level Agreement), which sets expectations for things like typical turnaround time on support inquiries. One thing you can do is set up an autoreply that immediately triggers upon receipt of a customer’s email, letting them know the expected response time while also pointing them to helpful resources like a knowledge base. You can do the same for live chats and phone calls, communicating the SLA time upfront. Even if you can’t give a personal reply immediately, when someone sees that you care enough to acknowledge their request for help, they’ll be appreciative. People are willing to be patient with issues when they know you are working on them and taking them seriously. On the other hand, not being responsive can feel dismissive and drive customers away.
Just like the products you offer; consumers want options when dealing with support. Many prefer to talk to a “live person” but there are some that would rather fully document things in an email. Others like the option to chat or even post on social media and exchange comments publicly. No matter which option you offer, just make it is easy for consumers to understand what types of support are available at which times of day. Also, make sure you offer equal quality of service no matter the channel and train your customer support team to respond to multilingual inquiries when possible. There are several tools available to make this easier. In other words, provide options to accommodate every type of customer you have.
Measure Your Performance
How do you know how you’re doing, if you’re not measuring? A good way to start is to internally measure your responsiveness and effectiveness. You can do this by tracking your average response times versus the SLA or recording conversations and identifying any areas for improvement. You can offer rewards to your best support representatives to incentivize excellence. For measuring externally, try conducting mini surveys in emails and chats that allow consumers to rate the performance of your support representatives. Surveys convey that it’s important to you that you’re meeting customers’ expectations and that their participation will help in that effort. Try boosting participation by offering a reward like a chance to win something or a discount on a future purchase. This shows your customer that you care what they think and how you perform. It will help also allow you to hear exactly what you need to do to improve and may also identify specific customers who aren’t happy. If you give someone a chance to share their issues you might be able to resolve them and keep that person as a customer. Remember it costs more to acquire a new customer than to retain the ones you have. The longer memberships can be extended, the lower the customer acquisition costs will be.
Make Good Support a Mindset
Make customer support part of your company culture. Since it is such a critical component, build it into training new employees. Great customer support improves customer retention which can ultimately drive business expansion. Subscription-based businesses rely on retention strategies to survive so its well worth it to invest in excellent support that can pay long-term dividends.
Providing great customer service and having consistent communication can go a long way toward retaining customers. Welcome feedback, both good and bad. A happy customer knows you’re listening to them. Follow these steps to gain customer loyalty and lessen the chances they’ll hit the cancel button. Questions, need advice? We’re here to help. Contact us at Sales@Segpay.com.
Cathy Beardsley is president and CEO of Segpay, a global provider of merchant services specializing in subscription-based billing, high risk payments and fraud mitigation. Segpay offers secure turnkey solutions to accept online payments, with a guarantee that funds are always safe and protected with its proprietary Fraud Mitigation System and customer service and support.