Customer-centricity in processes and technology solutions essential for personalised support
In a business environment where traditional modes of acquisition through emailers, online ads are garnering fewer and fewer customers, leading to increased customer acquisition costs, customer retention and support have gained prominence. Developments in artificial intelligence and machine learning have made it possible to significantly improve the quality of customer support through automation, save time, and circumvent the high costs that come with hiring more customer support executives.
To explore the strategies and frameworks that enable a new level of customer support with technology solutions, YourStory in association with Verloop.io, hosted a panel discussion “Customer Support is the New Customer Retention,” on April 22.
The panel consisted of industry experts Gaurav Singh, Founder and CEO, Verloop.io; Ankit Bhatnagar, Head of Product, Mswipe; Shreyans Daga, Co-founder and CTO of MyGate who shared their perspectives on the importance of customer retention, frameworks to adopt technology to enhance customer support, the ideal frameworks for data security and a lot more.
Here are some of the key takeaways from this discussion:
The case for prioritising customer retention
Gaurav of Verloop.io began the discussion by explaining how customer acquisition costs have increased as more businesses go online. ”In today’s times, ads do not seem to be as effective, and fewer people are opening emails. In such a situation, the last thing you would want is the customer bucket to be leaking,” he said “If done well, customers that are retained bring in more customers, which is much cheaper than acquiring new customers through the regular channels, he added.
“The real value for a business comes from mining an existing relationship with the customer,” said Ankit of MSwipe. “And to leverage the lifetime value of a customer, you need them to be interacting with your offerings regularly for long periods of time, which is where customer retention and support becomes important.”.
For Shreyans of MyGate, customer delight is at the core of his growth strategy, which makes retention an extension of MyGate’s culture.
“Each customer is very hard earned,” Shreyans reiterated. “The optimal lifetime value from a customer is accrued over years. So, if you don’t retain those customers, you have not acquired them well. We have to not just support and service the client, but also delight.”
Leveraging technology for a superior customer experience
For Gaurav, the prime role of technology solution is doing customer support the right way. “As you grow in size, the number of support tickets increase, and you need to increase hiring people, which comes with a high rate of churn,” he noted. Throughout the year, between 20 and 25 percent of the agents are new and under training. “This leads to different experiences for customers talking to the same company, leading to greater expenses and impersonalisation of the customer experience.”
In such a context, leveraging technology solutions can ensure as sophisticated an experience in customer support as seen on an app. Gaurav explained how technology can allow for greater flexibility for customers to seek support through different channels in different languages. It can also facilitate the automation of standard requests, thus freeing up agents to focus on more complex problems with greater empathy, and creating a more personalised customer support experience.
Customer delight essential for building robust customer support frameworks
Shreyans spoke about how embedding customer delight in MyGate’s culture enabled the company to build a strong customer support framework over time. “We normally sell to a committee of 5 or 10 people, which makes it important to create an experience from the start,” he said. “At every stage of the users’ journey, feedback is taken, which helps us to strengthen our processes.”
MyGate has developed a 360° view of each and every community that supports executives with the necessary information to answer any questions, Shreyans said. MyGate also has a community operating system, where multiple people can come together to answer queries and solve issues. Given the customer-centric culture, they regularly try to map the user journey across the app to pre-empt any problems, plug them with technology and improve the overall experience.
Frameworks for omni-channel and ensuring data security
Enabling an omni-channel customer support service in the right way is not an overnight process. According to Ankit of MSwipe, implementing all channels are not necessary, especially at the early stages of a company. It is better to adopt only those channels that are widely preferred by customers.
He also said the availability of customer information across all channels is essential for a smooth experience. “It cannot happen that a customer has sent his information over email. And, he needs to narrate the whole story over the phone again,” Ankit added. Fulfillment must be carried across channels with a sense of uniformity, and correct processes can facilitate this, he asserted.
Ankit also outlined the frameworks that are essential for ensuring data security. “We need data security frameworks to ensure why some particular data is needed, who has access to data, and when and how to provide that access not just at the respective channels, but also with the person looking to access that data,” he said. Understanding one’s data, the level of sophistication of the various personnel accessing it goes a long way towards establishing the right levels of authorisation among personnel, he pointed out.
Start small and time automation of operations wisely
The panel discussion ended with each panelist giving their advice on how businesses can start improving their customer support services.
“Identify your audience: You need to build your strategies around the audience you will be catering to. Collecting data to pre-empt their needs is also important to empower your own customer support,” Gaurav said. Timing the automation of customer support is also crucial as its benefits are more tangible once an organisation reaches a certain scale, he added.
For Shreyans, measuring key metrics is important for improving the quality of services. He mentioned that NPS (net promoter score) and CSAT (customer satisfaction score) surveys are useful tools towards this end. “Use technology as much as possible to deliver customer satisfaction, which will enables this at scale,” he said.
Ankit suggested that organisations should take small steps towards improving customer support as cost investments have to be balanced against service levels intended to be achieved. “It is not necessary to provide all services across all channels. Find the ones, which are most preferred by your customers and are cost effective, and work towards that.”