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9 Tactics to Increase Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)

Knowing your customers’ value and how much they bring back to your business is essential in understanding where your business stands and what it can do to increase revenue and sales. In this post, you will learn how to calculate customer lifetime value (CLV) and how to improve your business’ CLV by increasing customer retention and loyalty.

What is Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)?

Customer lifetime value (CLV) is a customer success metric that determines how much net profit your business is able to make from one customer over time. The CLV can tell you the dollar worth associated with a long-lasting relationship with any customer. This is a metric used to determine the value of your customers and how much money they bring to your business. This metric is key when it comes to bringing aboard new customers and deciding how much to spend on existing customers.

Why Measure CLV?

Going by this definition, the higher your business’ CLV, the more revenue each customer brings into your business. Therefore, with each customer’s value increasing, your sales and marketing teams can afford to take on new customers. In other words, your business can spend more on attracting new customers and retaining existing ones. And this is simply because each customer is valuable and brings more to your business. So, calculating CLV can give you insights into the quality of your customers and what your business can do to increase revenue and sales.

Calculating CLV

Calculating your customer lifetime value can be tricky. Understanding the core components will prove helpful. We break this down into easy-to-follow steps. Calculate your CLV scores by following the below steps:

Step 1. Calculate Average Purchase Value

Value of each purchase.

Average Purchase Value = Total Revenue / Number of Orders

Step 2. Calculate Average Purchase Frequency

Frequency of each purchase.

Average Purchase Frequency = Number of Purchases / Number of Customers

Step 3: Calculate Average Customer’s Value

Value of a customer.

Average Customer’s Value = Average Purchase Value / Average Purchase Frequency

Step 4. Calculate Average Customer’s Lifetime Span

Number of years that each customer visits or uses your service.

Average Customer’s Lifetime Span = Sum of Customer Lifespans / Number of Customers

Step 5. Calculate Customer’s Lifetime Value (CLV)

Your Business’ CLV score

Customer’s Lifetime Value = Customer Value (step 3) x Average Customer Lifespan (step 4)

How to calculate Customer Lifetime Value.

9 Ways to Increase Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)

When thinking of ways to improve customer lifetime value, there are three main factors to consider:

  1. Average Transaction Value
  2. Number of Repeat Sales
  3. Average Customer Retention Rate

By influencing or increasing these factors, your business’ CLV will improve. So, what can you do to better these numbers?

1. Conduct Surveys and Ask Questions

One way to improve your product or service is by increasing the number of repeat customers and subscribers. To do this, you need to identify what keeps customers coming back and any significant deal breakers. The best way to learn more about what your customers like and expect is by asking them. Conduct surveys, ask questions, and collect voice of customer data. Learn more about your customers so you can serve them better and convert more into recurring customers.

2. Enhance Customer Service and Customer Success

According to a study conducted by PwC, 32% of customers will end their relationship with a business after a bad experience. And so, this goes without saying but improving your customer support and customer success services can go a long way in retaining customers and making them advocates for your brand.

Consider investing in omnichannel and multichannel customer support. By increasing the number of channels that customers can use to connect with you, you can appeal to a wider customer base and offer more responsive service.

You may even find it useful to utilize self-service options such as knowledge bases and support centers, automate IVR services, chatbots, trouble tickets, and more. Self-service options give users the ability to solve their problems themselves and on their own time. Read our post about customer service trends to determine where your business is lacking.

3. Design Relevant and Easy-to-Use Products and Services

How relevant your business and products are can greatly impact how prospects view and interact with your services. Stay relevant, discuss current issues, and offer up-to-date information and features. If customers find more relevant usage elsewhere, they will go to a competitor without hesitation.

4. Develop a Customer-First Strategy

To enhance customer experience (CX) for your business, you need to create a customer-first strategy. Such a strategy requires your sales and marketing teams to take time to understand the customer, their needs, pain points, and preferences. And then develop a strategy that supports them and their needs.

5. Consider Usability Testing

Usability testing is a kind of market research. In usability testing, your marketing and services teams observe how users interact with your product, software, or service. You can test specific processes (sign-up, purchasing stage, etc.) or the entire system. Usability testing lets you identify areas that need improvement; specifically what processes and features are not clear or easy-to-use. Then, you can create better products and software that make customers more comfortable and less confused.

6. Cross-Sell and Up-Sell

Most sales teams already know that cross-selling and up-selling can greatly improve customer retention. Offering additional services and add-on features is a good way to reduce cart abandonment and build customer loyalty. Furthermore, offering products and services that are relevant to your customers will make a great difference. Customers appreciate personalization and customized recommendations and see them as an effort to really help improve their lives.

7. Create Valuable and Engaging Content

Keep your customers engaged by creating and sharing valuable and informative content. Utilize your blog page, emails, and social media platforms to educate and inform your customers and also establish your business as a trustworthy and credible one. Show readers that your employees know the industry and are developing first-class products.

8. Consider Loyalty Programs

Invest in customer loyalty programs to keep your customers coming back for more. Discounts, member-only promotions, etc., will help retain valuable customers. Treating them with special care and effort will give them more reasons to stay.

9. Continue to Delight Your Customers

Lastly, don’t stop delighting your customers once you lock them down. Keep them happy. Surprise them with small gestures; these can be holiday greetings, birthday cards, gift cards, etc. These little gestures can go a long way in securing customer loyalty.

After All, It’s All About Customer Relationships

Your customers drive your business’ growth. Without them, your business can easily fall behind and into the shadows. Competition is everywhere and so it’s up to you to make your business stand out. How far are you willing to go?

Learn more about how Global Call Forwarding’s communication features can help your business communicate better. Reach out to us today to learn more!

How Empathy Can Improve Customer Service Efforts

Customer service has always been central to the success of any business. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted how businesses offer customer support as well as customer service expectations held by consumers. Now, more than ever, each business needs to evaluate how they are engaging their customers and offering care and support. Here is where ensuring your reps and employees practice empathy in customer service becomes crucial.

What is the Role of Empathy in Customer Service?

The first thing we should learn about is the concept of empathy. It is the process of imagining or putting oneself into another’s shoes in an attempt to better understand the other and what they are going through. And so, empathy should be understood as one of the most important traits when interacting with customers. But what does empathy in customer service look like? And as a Chief Customer Officer, how can you train your team and yourself to be more empathetic?

What is Customer Empathy?

Customer empathy is the process of understanding your customers by digging deeper into their pain points, concerns, motivations, and more. This means taking a step forward instead of simply saying “I understand” and proceeding with stock responses.

Empathy in customer service, therefore, means taking the time to understand each customer individually. What are their concerns? What is their situation? How can your product help them specifically? And so on. By paying attention to these questions and each customer individually, your team can provide a more holistic and meaningful customer experience.

Why You Should be More Empathetic When Dealing with Customers

According to research conducted by PwC, about 32% of customers will end their relationship with a brand after having one bad experience. Customer service expectations have increased and customers no longer tolerate bad-to-moderate service. They expect businesses to go above and beyond and, specifically, to be considerate and empathetic.

Being more consciously empathetic in your customer interactions can prevent the loss of potentially valuable customers. If your business does not take steps to improve customer experience by creating products and services that are customer-focused, your customers will not hesitate to go to your competitors.

6 Signs Your Business is Lacking in Empathy

In order to determine whether your customer service team is lacking in empathy and needs to up its game, look closely at how your team is performing. Some key indicators include:

  1. Low customer satisfaction scores
  2. Negative customer feedback
  3. Multiple call transfers among agents
  4. Long wait times
  5. Bad customer reviews
  6. Low customer retention rates

9 Ways to Practice Empathy in Customer Service

Customer service and customer interactions happen in a variety of ways and across different platforms. Among these are:

  • In-person meetings
  • Phone and video conversations
  • Live chat
  • Email interactions
  • Social media platforms

Your customer service must be consistent across these platforms so that each customer leaves your business happier and more satisfied than when they arrived. How can you and your team be more empathetic in customer interactions? Here are some helpful tips:

1. Maintain Eye Contact

This one goes without saying — Always maintain eye contact. It is often considered rude if you are paying attention to anything other than the person you are interacting with. This becomes even more important when you are engaging with customers on video calls. It is easy to get distracted and focus on the slide share or other materials, but take time to look at your customer and listen to them. Make them feel seen and heard.

2. Adopt Active Listening

Don’t just assume that you know what the customer is going through and that it is a common issue. Even if the issue is one of the most common complaints you receive, try to treat it with a new perspective. Your customer may have tried different methods to resolve the issue. This could provide you with more information and insight.

Once they have described their issue, repeat it back to them so they know you were paying attention to every detail. Listen actively so you can provide helpful advice that they haven’t tried before.

3. Have a Positive Attitude

No matter what the situation, try to adopt a positive attitude throughout the interaction. Chances are your customer is really upset about the issue they are facing and their frustration may leak into their interaction with you. Don’t let that color the way you respond to them. Take a moment to understand what they may be going through and focus on solving the problem for them.

4. Be Patient and Respectful

Similar to the above tip, strive to be patient, kind, and respectful in your interaction. Give them time to speak (or vent, if they are really upset), avoid getting frustrated yourself, and focus on the end-goal which is resolving their concern so they can continue to enjoy your product or service.

5. Avoid Biases

As with any interaction, avoid making assumptions and biases based on your own perceptions. This means respecting the person for who they are and what they are trying to achieve. Don’t assume they don’t know anything or that they know everything. Always ask for clarification instead of making an assumption.

6. Be Careful When Cultural and Language Barriers are Involved

This is another area of concern where empathy in customer service is essential. When cultural and language barriers are present, there is room for confusion and misunderstanding. Take time to understand your customer. If you are struggling, ask to put them on hold, and find a supervisor or rep who can help. Make sure to get back to your customer soon, don’t keep them hanging on hold for long. Also, keep international phone etiquette in mind when calling customers in different regions and parts of the world.

7. Ask Follow Up Questions

This is a good way to show your customer that you are interested and invested in this conversation. Ask follow-up questions that are relevant and can help narrow down the issue at hand. This can also help you offer more personalized solutions.

8. Match Your Customer’s Tone

Whether it is through email or phone conversations, try to match the tone and enthusiasm of your customer. Don’t be too formal if your customer appears informal and casual, and vice versa. Personalize your interaction with each customer to connect with them in a better way.

9. Build a Bond, Be Flexible

Look for common interests. For example, the online pet company Chewy’s customer service agents always ask customers about their pets and share stories about their own pets. This is a good way to create a bond with their customers and talk about something both parties love: their dogs or cats!

10 Voice of the Customer Methodologies to Revolutionize Customer Feedback

Everyone is talking about Voice of the Customer (VoC) data as an essential tool to understanding your customers and improving their experience. But what is VoC and how do you collect such data? Here is a detailed guide to what VoC is and what to keep in mind when collecting customer data through these top 10 Voice of the Customer methodologies.

Voice of the Customer: Definition and Methodologies

First, what is Voice of the Customer? VoC is the way your customers talk about your products and their experiences or interactions with these products and services. It is a market research method where a business collects detailed customer feedback about their products and services used.

Why is VoC Important?

So, why should you collect customer feedback and pay attention to the voice of the customers? Customers using your product are in the best position to explain how useful, user-friendly, and worthy your product or service is. When collecting VoC data, look for:

  • Customer pain points
  • Hesitations or objections
  • Desires and needs
  • Requirements and expectations
  • Benefits, usage, results

And so, learning how they use the product and how successful it is in helping them complete tasks will help your business create better products as well as market your current products more effectively.

By collecting VoC feedback, your business can gain:

  1. Comprehensive and detailed insights into what your customers look for and need from your products and services.
  2. Data that can be put towards product development and marketing efforts.

VoC Program Stages

A VoC program — that is, collecting and using Voice of the Customer data — typically involves three stages:

  1. Collection — Collecting feedback and information via interviews, surveys, polls, etc. related to specific products or services.
  2. Evaluation — Analyzing and studying responses to identify customer needs and expectations.
  3. Implementation — Using feedback and analysis to create better experiences and products that boost business performance.

Voice of Customer Program Stages.

In this post, we will specifically focus on the collection phase of VoC data and what methodologies work best.

And when collecting VoC data, it is good to be prepared with the following questions for each data collection project:

  1. What is the purpose of this data collection project?
  2. What is your target audience or group? (Current customers or new prospects?)
  3. How will you collect this data? (In-person interviews, online surveys, social listening, etc.)
  4. What stage is the customer or prospect in? (Unaware, problem aware, solution aware, product aware, most aware)

Once you have these factors in place, you can focus on questions to ask your customers and prospects.

What to Ask Customers?

Before we dive into VoC methodologies, let’s quickly run through how to prepare for customer interviews and surveys. In other words, what questions to ask your customers so you can get the best feedback and insights. Your questions can be focused on how customers perceive your business or how they use your product or service; customize questions accordingly. Here are some questions to consider:

What made them look for your business/product/service?

  • When did you realize you needed something like [product/service]?
  • What brought you to [business/product/service]?
  • How did you find out about [business/product/service]?
  • What problem were you trying to solve with [business/product/service]?
  • How did you go about researching for a solution to your problem?

How or why do they pick a business/product/service?

  • What matters most to you when choosing or signing up with a business or purchasing products or services?
  • What characteristics do you look for in a business, product, or service before purchasing or signing up?
  • Why were you interested in trying our [product/service]?
  • Did you consider any alternatives to our [business/product/service]? What were they?
  • Why did you choose our [product/service] over [competitor]?

About your business/product/service

  • What comes to mind when you think about our [business/product/service]?
  • How are you using our [product/service] at the moment?
  • How would you describe the [business/product/service] to a friend?
  • What do you like the most about [business/product/service]?
  • What is the most useful feature of the [product/service]?
  • What surprised you about [business/product/service]?
  • Would you recommend [business/product/service]? To whom and why?
  • How can [business/product/service] improve your customer experience?
  • How can [business] improve the [product/service]?

Understanding pain points, concerns, and issues

  • What would you like changed or modified regarding the [product/service]?
  • What features do you wish the [product/service] had, that it doesn’t currently have now?
  • What concerns do you have about [product/service]?
  • What competitor would you prefer over our [product/service]? And why?
  • What’s the #1 thing you can do with [product/service] that you couldn’t do before without the [product/service]?
  • What’s the biggest problem that you were able to solve/fix with our [product/service]?
  • What concerns or hesitations did/do you have before deciding to buy or sign up for [product/service]?

Understanding results and outcomes

  • What has changed for you since using [product/service]?
  • What measurable results have you noticed since you started using [product/service]?
  • What results are you hoping to achieve with our [product/service]?
Voice of Customer methodologies.
Source: DepositPhotos.com – Lic#61863947 ID#27446420

Top 10 Voice of the Customer Methodologies

Let’s now look at the 10 different Voice of the Customer methodologies that you use to collect customer data:

1. Detailed Customer Interviews

One of the traditional VoC data collection methods is conducting detailed interviews with consumers. These interviews can help you get insights into the customer’s perspective about your business or specifically about a product or service you offer.

You can conduct in-person, phone, video, or email interviews, depending on your capabilities. However, in-person interviews are considered the most effective for this purpose. You can choose to interview particular customers or target groups, depending on why you are collecting this data and how much information you need.

Be prepared with a list of questions and follow-up questions before conducting the interview. Inform customers how long this interview will last and what the purpose is.

2. Customer Surveys & Feedback Forms

A customer survey is another good (and common) way of collecting customer information and understanding customer expectations, needs, and pain points. There are a few different ways to send out customer surveys:

  • Online surveys through links or emails through survey tools such as SurveyMonkey
  • Phone surveys through customer service teams or automated IVR systems
  • In-app or in-software surveys
  • In-person or suggestion-box surveys
  • Contact forms surveys, etc.

You can send out such surveys and feedback forms when prospecting new leads or to new and long-term customers. As mentioned above, be prepared with questions to include in your survey form. When appropriate, include and offer multiple-choice options, drop-down lists, text-boxes, and so on. This will enable customers to provide more information and give you detailed results.

3. Customer Reviews

Online customer reviews are a great spot for collecting information about how customers are using your products and determining how they feel about them. You can look up Google reviews as well as industry-specific review sites such as G2, TrustPilot, Capterra, etc.

Additionally, since these reviews appear online and are visible to potential customers, you will want to watch these reviews and respond to them as well. Respond to good reviews with “We appreciate your business.” And respond to negative reviews with positive and solution-focused responses. In other words, show new prospects how your business handles negative reviews and customer concerns.

Related: Global Call Forwarding Reviews

4. Call Detail Records

Call detail records can be helpful when putting together insights and data based on history. You can use call records to understand the preferred communication channels and contact times. Additionally, you might even identify common complaints that require the help of your customer support team. This information can be used to create support content that helps customers solve issues through self-service options, when appropriate.

5. Recorded Calls

Next, record and review calls with customers. A call recording service is a great tool for sifting through common customer needs, expectations, and complaints. Here, you can identify patterns, anomalies, and more. These insights can then inform better product development and enhanced customer experience.

6. Email Groups

You can use highly personalized emails to specific segments or send well-written generic emails to all your customers. Make it easy and less work for your customers to answer the survey. You may choose to include the feedback form or poll within the body of the email or include a link for them to click. Let them know the purpose of the survey and how long it will take them to complete it. You may even choose to include a reward for a lengthy survey that will take up a good amount of their time.

7. Social Listening

Social listening refers to paying attention to what your customers and clients are saying on social media platforms. More specifically, what are they saying about businesses, products, and services like yours? You can choose to simply listen or actively participate in the conversation to learn more about customer expectations and interests, directly from customers and in real-time.

8. Live Chat

Live chat (whether monitored or AI-enabled) is a popular customer support channel. Web visitors often use live chat to connect with a company as opposed to calling or emailing them. This makes live chat a good source for collecting VoC feedback. You can collect feedback by asking questions in real-time or scheduling a follow-up survey after assisting the customer.

9. Focus Groups

Focus groups are groups of people who asked to share their thoughts, feelings, and expectations about a product or service. You can use focus groups to test new products or features, gain feedback on existing products and services, learn how to improve user experience, and more. This is another common way of understanding the Voice of the Customer at different touchpoints.

10. Customer-Focused KPIs

There are two customer-focused KPIs or metrics that can help you gain insights into how satisfied your customers are and whether they will advocate for your brand:

1. Net promoter score (NPS) measures the loyalty of a business’s customers. NPS provides quick feedback from customers focused on whether they are likely to recommend your product or service. A common example of this is — “How likely are you to recommend our [business/product/service] to a friend or a colleague?

2. Customer satisfaction score (CSAT) measures the level of customer satisfaction after interacting with a business or using a product or service. Use questions similar to those in NPS measures and customers can answer with ratings such as a scale of 1-10 or range of Very Satisfied-Very Dissatisfied.

Let Voice of the Customer Methodologies Enhance Your Services

It’s not an underestimation how important customer satisfaction is, and companies should aim to ensure they are delivering on this fully. As we have demonstrated, Voice of the Customer data is a key tool for businesses to understand what customers appreciate about your business, and ultimately, where your business can improve. If you are aiming to maximize the experience for your customers, be sure to implement VoC methodologies and learn more about how to please those seeking out your products or services.

What is Customer Journey Mapping? (2021)

(Updated on Feb 2021)

As a society, we have always been fascinated with storytelling. We like to know where we started, who we were, and how far we have come. The essence of such storytelling and journey mapping is simple — we want to know how we got where we are. This process of mapping out a story or journey spills into the business world. Businesses pay close attention to their customers’ journeys and how they arrive at a company. This is called customer journey mapping.

Customer Journey Mapping: How Does it Work?

Companies develop entire marketing plans around the movements of their customers. Of course, they have to map these movements to ensure their strategy is working. That’s where customer journey mapping can help.

So, what is customer journey mapping? Mapping customer journeys helps businesses tell the story of how their customers travel across their brands. For example, customers may interact with a specific business through their exhibitions, marketplaces, webinars, website, social media, email, chat, etc. These are the different touchpoints that customers may pass through which a customer connects with your brand. Customer journey mapping is the process of creating a visual strategy of how your customer travels through your business from their perspective. By doing this exercise, you can identify common pain points and strategize ways to improve customer experience.

Tracking your customer’s journey can be a complicated yet powerful process. Such tracking can help map out precisely where your customers are, where your business is excelling, and where improvements are possible.

Let’s take a more in-depth look at what customer journey mapping is and how and why you should use it.

Why You Should Pay Attention to Customer Journeys

The vast majority of organizations don’t struggle to gather data. What they do struggle with is understanding the frustrations and personal experiences of their customers. Understanding common customer pain points and their behaviors and expectations is crucial to the success of any business.

Tailoring to Meet Customer Expectations

Small to medium-sized businesses should map out customer journeys to identify ways to improve their service and product. For example, customers currently expect to connect with a company not only by phone calls but through email, live chat, social media, and even text messaging. As such, if your business does not offer omnichannel support, you may be missing out on a huge demographic. Another example is including customization and personalization. Stock emails and scripted messages won’t have the same effect as personalized messages and recommendations based on customer interaction.

Discovering a New Customer Base

Without closely watching customer journeys, you might miss out on key demographics and psychographics. When paying attention to the buyer journey and how certain customers arrive at your business and navigate through to purchase, you might discover a new customer base. Your marketing team can then devise strategies to appeal to this target audience and grow your customer base.

Providing Proactive Customer Service

Lastly, since your team’s priority is to identify and improve customer pain points, your business can take a more proactive approach to solve on-going and new customer issues. You can also identify key touchpoints where customers welcome additional support and interaction. The bottom line is that you can use customer journey mapping to create customer-centric strategies.

customer journey mapping

How to Map Your Customer’s Journey

Customer journey mapping creates a framework that enables organizations to provide a better customer experience. To do this, you must document the customer experience from start to finish and identify potential improvements.

For example, if you own a coffee shop, you’d want to know what brought the customer in (i.e., Stage 1). Did they see an ad on Facebook? Did a friend tell them about your shop? Next, you’d want to know who helped them, who they had contact with, and how that exchange went. Was it pleasant? Then, you’ll want to know what motivated them to make a purchase. Was it the informative content on your website or in your email campaigns? Also, you’ll want to know what they thought of your product (the coffee) and whether or not they’d come back.

Using real-time information supplied by customer feedback is a step above surface-level data. Information and insights gained in these areas and across these touchpoints can help you visualize customer experience better.

Customer journey mapping does this all with the help of visual aids. Most maps are presented as infographics for easier digestion. Dimensions such as touchpoints, goals, and customer feedback are priceless to create an accurate customer journey map.

Tips for Creating Customer Journey Maps

Customer journey mapping should focus on building valuable insights and putting them in quantifiable maps. Identify your key touchpoints and factors that affect buyer journeys for your whole business or specific products.

Some questions to consider when mapping out the buyer journey include:

  • What is the customer thinking or feeling? What is guiding their motivation or action?
  • What is the action?
  • What is their touchpoint with the business? (Examples: social media, paid ads, local directories, email, etc.)
  • What changes can be made to this step to improve customer experience?
  • What steps are needed to make this change?

Here are a few tips to help you do that:

Tip #1: Incorporate customer satisfaction measures.

Tip #2: Decide on the behavioral stages and develop data based on each stage.

Tip #3: Customize the journey map to match your audience (stakeholders might want different information than marketing departments, etc.)

Tip #4: Isolate your customers’ goals.

Tip #5: Identify key touchpoints (where do customers interact directly with your company?)

Tip #6: Get specific. Interact with your customers, survey them, and find out precisely when and how they get in touch with your business.

How to Use Customer Journey to Improve Marketing

The goal for any organization using customer journey mapping is to isolate the customer’s goals and perspectives and then use these insights to create a strategic and successful plan. An excellent customer journey map captures your customer’s experience concerning their needs and expectations. It helps you figure out how you stack up and exposes gaping holes in your strategy.

Essentially, they provide profound insight and create actionable steps for your organization. They show positive and negative interactions and help you replace those negative customer experiences with more positive and helpful ones.

By mapping out customer journeys and experiences, you can attempt to provide convenient and personalized service at every crucial touchpoint. Furthermore, you can create more accurate buyer personas for each step of your sales funnel. In short, mapping out customer journeys can support your inbound marketing efforts.

Related: Toll Free Numbers for Marketing Campaigns

Using Customer Journey Mapping to Move Forward

Understanding how your customers interact with your products, service, or business helps your team take actionable steps towards an enhanced customer experience. It gives you the knowledge needed to expand and improve upon what you already offer. Clearly defining your audience, gaining greater insight into the customer lifecycle, and combining this knowledge with your team leads to tremendous business success. Use customer journey maps to ensure customers remain with your brand long-term while building strong client relationships.

Top 9 Customer Service Trends You Must Know in 2021 [Updated]

In 2020, due to the pandemic, customers and businesses are working from home. They are considering ways to change their lifestyles to support their work-from-home lifestyle. This may lead them to your business as a possible and comfortable solution. If that is the case, then you need to up your customer service game to support all types of customer queries. Here are some important customer service trends to keep in mind this year.

9 Top Customer Service Trends in 2021

Ensuring your customer service and support efforts are always top-notch is important to maintaining customer satisfaction and retention. If your teams don’t do their best, then it becomes easy to lose valuable customers. Therefore, you must check your customer service strategies and tools every year to see where and how you can improve.

So, if you are looking to upgrade your customer service and stay of the game, here are the top 9 customer service trends to keep in mind.

1. Offer Multimodal Communication

If you are only responding to phone calls and emails, then you are way behind the game. Most companies are adopting multi-channel communication tools so they can assist customers no matter how they choose to reach out. This includes live chat, trouble tickets, text messaging, video conferencing, social media messaging, and more.

2. Become Mobile-Friendly

Most potential customers will find your business through their smartphones. This may occur due to a targeted ad that pops up on their social media or they do a quick mobile search for services like yours. For this reason, you want to make your website and reaching your customer support team easy for mobile users. Consider optimizing your website for mobile-view and adding click-to-call buttons that allow users to call instantly from their phones. You may also want to add easy-to-fill forms on the website for customers who want to send a quick message or email.

3. Include More AI and Automation

Use office automation to streamline processes and save time spent on simple, mundane tasks. Project management systems that automate tasks and enable file-sharing are essential for keeping offices well-connected and functioning seamlessly. Well-designed CRMs or customer information storage systems, IVR systems, chatbots, etc., are some additional ways to incorporate AI and automation in the office.

4. Be Active on Social Media

Having social media accounts is a must in this day and age. Not only does it give you the opportunity to market and target a different demographic, but it also gives you the ability to advertise and run social media campaigns. These campaigns can help bring new customers to your business while also adding another quick customer service tool. Be active on your social accounts, educate customers about products and services, and respond regularly to comments and messages.

5. Offer 24/7 and Real-Time Support

Besides offering various channels for customer support, you also want to provide 24/7 and real-time support. Consider live chat and chatbots to answer common customer queries, solve problems quickly, offer product/service descriptions, and guide them to completing a purchase. A phone equivalent of live chat is your IVR system. You can design the IVR to offer 24/7 service with troubleshooting support and self-service options. This way, callers can get assistance even after hours or on the weekends.

Related: 9 Best Customer Service Examples for 2020

6. Invest in Easy-to-Use Software

Provide your team with simple and user-friendly software. Complicated software takes longer to learn and has more room for error. If your team is spending more time navigating through the software, that is less time spent on providing excellent customer service. Research and find easy and more efficient solutions for your business phone system, CRMs, and project management tools.

7. Offer Work-from-Home Opportunities

One of the most important customer service trends this year is remote work. Working from home is growing more and more popular because it accommodates productivity. And your customer service team may want the option to work remotely, possibly until the end of the year. Prepare for this by considering call forwarding that can keep your remote workers and teams connected without increasing your monthly business communication bill.

8. Consider Video Streaming

A new development in customer service trends is the inclusion of video streaming and conferencing. Video is a useful form of communication and should be incorporated as much as possible in sales, marketing, and customer service. You can use videos for product descriptions, service education, launching new items, and more.

9. Personalize and Customize for Each Customer

Finally, continue to personalize your services for your customer. Stock emails and responses can easily disenchant prospects. Based on their search and purchase history, offer personalized offers or discounts, rewards, and recommendations that mean something to them.

Related: 23 Incredible Customer Service Tips for 2021

Improve Customer Service Today!

All of these trends may not be applicable to your business. However, identify the ones that do and make an attempt to include them effectively and creatively so your business can care for their customers better. Happy customers lead to a happy business, after all!

6 Ways Customer Service Expectations Have Changed for 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the way companies conduct business as well as the way customers interact and purchase from these companies. As such, customer service expectations have changed for 2021 with more customers expecting high-quality support, personalized care, multiple communication channels, and more.

Customer Service Expectations in 2021

Customers switched to online shopping in 2020. However, this is not limited to just purchasing but also in terms of having conversations with businesses through video conferencing and emails. Many businesses had to transform their sales pitches and customer support to fit video screens, social media posts, and email marketing. And these businesses had to try harder to improve overall customer experience: from finding the business website online to offering easy customer support options.

So, how have customer service expectations changed since 2020, and what are the most common customer service expectations in 2021? Let’s have a look.

1. Offer Higher-Quality Support

The pandemic led to businesses and their customer support teams finding new ways to connect with customers. However, customer service expectations rose to new heights. According to a 2020 Hiver survey focused on customer support expectations in 2020, 80% of consumers expect better and more empathetic support.

More and more customers are shopping online and expect to continue to do so. This means businesses need to develop their websites and e-commerce platforms to prepare for higher volumes of online traffic and movement. Customers will expect quick responses, easy navigation, and high-quality products. Some ways to improve your customer service include:

  • Updating website content to be more relevant and informative.
  • Create mobile-friendly webpages that load quickly.
  • Convenient online purchasing and order-placing abilities.
  • Better business phone system with advanced features such as call forwarding, routing, cloud IVR systems, call recording, and so on. These features can help with better call management and improve quality assurance.
  • Offering multiple channels of communication such as live chat, email, video conferencing, etc. You may even consider a chatbot for common FAQs and troubleshooting where customers don’t need to get in touch with a rep.

2. More Personalized Care

Customers are also looking for personalized care. Here is where a customer-centric strategy comes into place. Customer experience (CX) is highly significant with respect to business growth. If your customers are unhappy and don’t feel valued, they won’t hesitate to leave.

Personalization or customization means tailoring customer experiences to make them more relevant and useful to their particular situations. This means:

  • Paying attention to their profile and their past purchases and interactions
  • Offering recommendations based on past purchases
  • Understanding their needs and goals
  • Visualizing their goals through customer journey mapping
  • Offering customized solutions

Improving customer service and providing personalized care is as simple as knowing your customer and understanding what they need. Then, making your products and their interaction with it more relevant and personal.

3. More Modes of Contact

Since in-person contact was reduced during the pandemic, businesses had to get creative and find new ways to stay connected with their customers. For many businesses, this meant:

  • Updating website content
  • Creating support and knowledge bases for self-support
  • Staying active on email, chat, and social media channels
  • Considering automation tools such as chatbots and automated IVR phone systems

And so, customers expect to contact a business through the channel they prefer. The Hiver survey suggests that:
Gen Z customers and millennials prefer email and chat options more than phone conversations.
Baby boomer customers prefer phone conversations over others.

If your business supports all generations of customers, then you need to cater to their preferences and behaviors.

customer service

4. Focus on Empathy

According to a survey conducted by Hiver, 34% of customers state that customer support needs to be more responsive and empathetic. And this does not mean during the pandemic exclusively. Customers expect more empathetic and quick responses as everyone is dealing with a global issue. In fact, research has found that millennials and Gen Z customers are more likely to connect with businesses that offer empathic support.

So what does a more empathetic customer service approach look like? Here are a few examples:

  • Try to see the problem from their perspective.
  • Allow them to express themselves and their concerns and frustrations without interrupting.
  • Pay attention to your own biases and actively work on them.
  • Maintain positivity.
  • Respect your customer and don’t treat them like another number.
  • Gather and learn from feedback (peers, customers, mentors).

Striving to be more empathetic in your customer interactions can help you develop strong relationships and find better ways to help them. This, in turn, leads to greater customer satisfaction.

5. Pay Attention and Understand Them Better

Similar to the need for empathy, customers expect to be paid attention to, listened to, and cared for. Customers know what all businesses do to track their preferences and capitalize on them — such as targeted ads, personal recommendations, and so on. As such, they expect that businesses have the information to know what they like, prefer, and need. And so, when businesses don’t, customers are typically left disappointed and frustrated.

So, what can you do to work better with your customer? Listen to them carefully and do not make their issue seem small or irrelevant. The Hiver survey found out that 23% of customers will claim good customer support if they don’t have to explain their issue over and over again. Don’t make them repeat their concerns and issues or transfer them to multiple reps and employees.

Paying attention to them and repeating their concerns to confirm them can go a long way in reducing customers’ frustrations and increasing appreciation.

6. Be Clear and Follow-Up

Lastly, be clear in your communication and avoid vague and confusing phrases. Customers appreciate clear communication without any hidden agendas. This is one of the top customer service expectations. They expect honesty and clarity. If, as a customer service rep, you do not know the answer to a query, tell them that you will follow-up. And make sure you follow-up soon.

Meet Customer Service Expectations with Virtual Communication

We, at Global Call Forwarding, can get you set up with a robust virtual phone system that can help you become more accessible to customers, no matter the location. Call us today at 1 (888) 908 6171 to find out more about international call forwarding and other communication tools.

16 Tips to Ensure Outstanding Call Center Etiquette

Effective and excellent call center etiquette can go a long way in securing valuable customers and leads. However, you may have noticed that the rules are constantly changing. In this post, we detail the dos and don’ts of call center etiquette and how you can offer an outstanding call center experience. Read on to learn more!

Top Tips for Excellent Call Center Etiquette

How call center agents conduct themselves during calls can determine customer satisfaction and retention. Poor etiquette leads to bad customer service and low caller satisfaction. Call center etiquette can be divided into four different phases of the call such as:

  • Answering the call.
  • Speaking to customers and identifying issues.
  • Transferring customers to another agent or supervisor.
  • Ending the call.

In each of these phases, you must demonstrate professionalism, concern, and a desire to genuinely assist your caller. We’ll look at each of these phases individually and the different aspects to keep in mind to ensure you are providing outstanding call center etiquette. Learn more about promising customer service tips here.

When Answering the Call

The speed at which you answer the call as well as your tone can determine how the rest of the call goes. If you take too long or answer the call in a rushed manner, callers will immediately be put off. Keep these tips in mind as well:

1. Answer the Call Promptly
Customers do not like to be kept waiting when they are trying to reach customer support. Always answer the call on the second or third ring. Any longer than that, they may feel frustrated and abandon the call. Additionally, if it is too hard to reach your business time and time again, that customer will likely switch over to a competitor instead.

2. Greet with a Friendly Tone
Always greet callers with a positive attitude. Callers can sense your inflection on the phone. Smiling while you’re on a call is an old trick that conveys a friendly tone through the phone. Starting a call with a positive attitude encourages the same from the caller on the other line.

If someone is distraught about their product and in need of help, your positivity will help ease their frustrations because they will know by your tone that you are eager to help. You do not need to go overboard with this. A simple greeting like “Hello, you’ve reached (name of company) my name is ___, how can I help you today?” will suffice.

Identifying the Issue

Next up is taking the time to listen to your caller and identify the issue. This means you should key into their emotions and being empathetic while clearly understanding what the problem is. After all, if you do not know what is concerning them, you may not be able to help effectively.

3. Adopt Active Listening
Let them explain and describe the issue to you before you repeat it. Nothing frustrates a customer more than an employee that is not paying attention to them and seems in a rush to finish the call. Take time to understand where they are coming from and what the problem is. Reinforce your understanding by showing you have heard their situation and are working on a resolution.

4. Identify the Issue
Once you think you have a good handle over what the issue is, confirm it with them. Reiterate the problem as best as you understand it. Something like, “So, from what you are telling me, I understand that you are having an issue with . . .” or “. . . that you would like to . . .” This will help you ensure you have thoroughly understood the issue and will also demonstrate to the caller that you have been paying attention.

5. Be Patient and Helpful
Always be patient. Whether they are taking too long to explain the problem or are repeating themselves, your patience will determine whether this customer returns or not. When a client calls a company, it is more than likely to resolve an issue. Patiently listen to them. If you are unable to help them, transfer them to the correct department.

Transferring the Call or Placing the Caller on Hold

Most callers do not enjoy being placed on hold or transferred to another employee. Unfortunately, at times, it is necessary to transfer the call to someone who can handle it better or place them on hold so you can find the right information and help them better. Here are rules to observe when transferring a call or placing it on hold:

6. Determine Who to Transfer to
Again, listening intently to what their needs are will help you determine what department to send them to. After all, customers will only get more agitated if they need support but you sent them to sales.

7. Explain Why They Need to be Transferred
Most callers do not like to be bounced around. However, sometimes it is inevitable, especially if they reached the wrong department, to begin with. Explain to your caller why they need to be transferred to another department or employee.

8. During the Transfer
When you transfer a phone call, make sure that there is someone in that department available to take the call. Stay on the phone with your caller until someone answers and then you can introduce the caller to this new department. Do not abandon your caller till they have someone who can take care of them.

9. Ask Before Placing on Hold
Before you put someone on hold, ask them for their permission. Instead of saying “I’m going to put you on hold now” or nothing at all, say “Would it be alright if I put you on hold for a brief moment?” Then wait for an answer.

10. Use The Hold Button Appropriately
Make sure you and your teams know how to use the hold button so there is no confusion. For example, when you place someone on hold while you speak to another customer, the person on hold should not hear you speaking with the other customer or hear employees in the background. Hold music or a custom message can be played when they are on hold, instead.

11. Do Not Place Callers on Hold for Too Long
Do not leave someone on hold for a long time. If they are waiting to speak to someone in particular who is not available, inform them that they will be waiting for a certain period of time. If the wait exceeds 2-5 minutes, check in to let them know you have not forgotten about them but are taking longer to find what they need. If they do not want to stay on hold for long, encourage them to call back later or offer to call them when you have the information or person available.

call center software
Source: Stockphoto.com O#100053743383

Ending the Call

The last part of maintaining good call center etiquette focuses on how to end a call. This largely depends on how the call went. Were you able to resolve everything or is a follow-up required?

12. End The Call Politely

Always aim to end the call on a “high note.” If something needs your attention right away, offer to call the person back and let them know you will finish the conversation after you have dealt with this urgent matter.

When the conversation has come to a natural end, ask them if there is anything else you can do for them. If yes, proceed to assist. If no, thank them for their call. An example of a good way to end a phone call is, “Thank you so much for calling (company) today, I hope you enjoy your weekend.” Or, “It was a pleasure speaking with you, I’m glad that we could help you out today. Have a wonderful rest of your day.”

Additionally, if your company asks for surveys post calls, ask your caller if they would be interested in participating in a brief survey. And respect their wishes, whichever way they lean.

Do not rush them off the phone, and always wait for the customer to hang up before you hang up.

13. Offer Follow-Up Information
Alternatively, if a follow-up is required, let them know how to expect it. Will you send an email or phone call reminder? Should they call you back instead of your company contacting them? Either way, make sure that you have the information they need when the follow-up occurs.

Additional Call Center Etiquette

In addition to the above points, there are some other aspects of call center etiquette to pay attention to, such as call management and training.

14. Training Employees and Agents
So that agents know what they are supposed to do and how to best help customers, they need to be trained well. This includes:

    • Training new employees, even those that come with experience
    • Offering refresher courses and workshops to current employees periodically
    • Using call recording to record and review interactions
    • Conduct regular performance analysis
    • Provide access to seminars and training programs

15. Making a Call
Employees should be trained to make calls professionally. Be sure to introduce yourself and the reason for your call right away. Provide them with all the necessary details at the beginning of the call.

Leaving a voicemail is similar to making a call. Even with the voicemail, introduce yourself and explain the reason for your call. Also include contact details such as a phone number and, if needed, a time frame for them to call you back.

16. Forward Your Phone To Voicemail
If you are out of your office, send all incoming phone calls immediately to your voicemail so that the caller knows that you are unavailable. Having a caller sit through 20 rings before realizing that you’re not going to answer is impolite and leaves the caller with a negative feeling. Your voicemail should state who you are and when you will be back. An instant and informative voicemail saves the caller time and allows them the option of leaving a message or calling back at a more convenient time.

Offer Better Customer Service with the Right Etiquette

If you don’t try to do the best you can, chances are, you will miss the buck. To gain new customers and convert them into regulars and to treat your regulars like royalty, your call center etiquette needs to be on-point. Make the necessary changes, implement a strategy for continuous education, and watch as your business grows!

Related: 5 Surefire Ways to Improve Virtual Call Center CSAT Scores

5 Ways to Create a Customer First Strategy

A customer-first strategy can help your business enhance customer experience, increase customer retention, and boost employee productivity. How? In this post, we outline some proven ways to put your customers first.

What is a Customer-First Strategy?

A customer-first strategy is a business plan that revolves around the success of your customers. It focuses on improving their customer experience by solving major problems.

This includes addressing the following points:

  • What are the expectations of your customer?
  • What are the common issues your customers are looking to solve?
  • How can you make life easier for your customers?
  • How is your customer’s team set up?
  • How can you improve your customers’ experiences by leveraging customer stories from the past?

Besides focusing on your customers, an effective customer first strategy will also focus on employee needs. After all, it is your employees who will be interacting with your customers or creating products and services for them. If your employees feel undervalued, they will not put 100% into satisfying your customers.

Why You Must Put Your Customers First

Any business that relies on recurring revenue must put their customers first. Improved engagement and the quality of customer interactions will drive sales down the line. We all know that happy customers spend more and are more likely to refer your business to others.

A customer-first approach that focuses on solving customers’ problems will improve the longevity of your business.

customer first

5 Elements of Customer Strategy to Consider

An effective customer strategy usually consists of two initiatives: customer-focused and employee-focused. You will need to pay attention to the needs and expectations of both your customers and employees so you can put your customers first. Here are 5 useful elements to consider when creating a customer strategy for 2021.

1. Understand your Customer Base

If you haven’t yet, it is extremely crucial to create personas depending on your customer. Creating customer personas helps you get into the mindset of your audience, their needs, demands, expectations, preferences, and so on. This can further help you serve them better.

By failing to understand the needs of your customer base, you might not be able to guide customers along the right journey. In addition, you might not be able to quickly solve their problems.

2. Study Customer Behavior & Needs

To have a true customer-first strategy in 2021, you will need to pay attention to customer needs. This will help you retain more high-quality account. It’s very important to study your customers so that you can proactively respond to their needs.

Start by tracking customer metrics such as lifetime value (LTV), customer retention, satisfaction, and net promoter score. Ensure that all departments (especially sales, operations, and support) have access to this data. Your business can then start building an incredible overall customer experience.

3. Focus on Improving Employee Experience

Employee experience (EX) must be considered as part of your customer strategy. The value of a great employee experience is immense!

EX means taking key steps towards improving the collective experience of your employees. You may consider popular incentives such as remote work and perks. Additionally, you can provide employees with training materials and courses so they can continue to better their skills and talents. Above all, you should allow for growth within the company. This helps lower employee turnover rates and ensure productive employees but also save.

Working on your business’ EX means creating a stable and healthy work environment. Happier employees have more pleasant customer interactions, which in turn drives customer success.

4. Be Accessible Worldwide

Part of a strong customer first strategy is being accessible and reachable to your customers no matter where they are. No customer should have to pass through hoops or wait for days to get support. You must have enough customer service and technical support reps to satisfy customer needs. Furthermore, be active on multiple channels such as phone, email, live chat, social media, video. This ensures that you are always reachable.

If you are running an international business, it is important to have strong global communication. Consider subscribing to an international call forwarding service. Such a service will route calls to your team anywhere in the world. This gives your customers a free or inexpensive way to call your business, irrespective of physical distance.

Being reachable and providing quick responses will increase customer trust in your business and improve customer success.

5. Collect Feedback & Grow

Finally, collect feedback from customers on a regular basis. You can use surveys to understand where your business is succeeding and what problems you can solve for customers in the future. Then, brainstorm and apply practical solutions to key issues. A strategy that puts your customers first will make your business a better place to be.

Create Your Customer First Strategy in 2021

Implement the above tips to build and execute an effective customer first strategy that proves helpful for your customers and employees. How can Global Call Forwarding help? Check out this list of great customer service tips.

7 Types of Customer Complaints & How to Resolve Them

The best way to provide A+ customer service is to identify common customer complaints and be prepared to resolve them. Having your agents and reps trained to quickly and effectively handle complaints will lead to better and improved customer service. And this sets you on the path of gaining loyal and returning customers.

Resolving Common Customer Complaints

Customers reach out to a business for a variety of reasons ranging from help with signing up, product inquiries, request for quotes to assistance and support. However, they do not always have a good experience. This is why over the years so much emphasis has been placed on good and effective customer service.

So, what are some common types of customer complaints and how can they be resolved?

1. Waiting in Queue for Long Periods

Problem: Most of the time customers calling a business for customer support end up waiting in line for 15-45 minutes. Waiting on hold can be extremely frustrating for customers who have a small inquiry or an urgent issue.

Solution: Have more agents on call during high call volume periods. For most businesses, these periods occur between 12 pm – 2 pm (during lunch) or 4 pm – 6 pm (end of the workday). Additionally, use call routing to forward calls to different agents or office locations, when one is overburdened.

2. Long Response Times

Problem: One of the most common customer complaints is long response times. This includes customers sending emails, queries through webforms, responding to voicemails, etc., and not receiving a response within 1-2 business days.

Solution: Prioritize responding quickly and actively. Ensure your employees are on top of the emails, queries, voicemails within 1-2 business days. Longer than that and a potential customer will go with a competitor instead. While automated responses can do the trick, personalize these responses to make them less “mechanical.”

3. Frustrating Automated Systems

Problem: Dealing with chatbots and IVR systems can be hard, especially for customers that have a unique issue. Automated systems are useful for handling simple, common, mundane tasks such as:

    • Transferring calls to the right department
    • Offering troubleshooting help
    • Providing company information
    • Activating or renewing services, etc.

Customers love self-service. However, more complex tasks will need a real agent’s help. Additionally, some customers may not even know how to use and navigate through an IVR system. Some may select the wrong option and end up in the wrong department. While others may find the long menu options more annoying than helpful.

Solution: Have a simple and easy-to-use automated system with an option for voicemail or “speak with a representative” easy to find. Keep menu options short and clear. Avoid jarring hold music or repeating your services on a loop when calls are transferred. And also, be sure to allow for the option to “speak to a representative.” This way, customers can request to speak with an agent if all else fails.

4. Being Passed Around

Problem: Customers being passed around from one employee to another will definitely leave your business for another more organized and efficient one. This includes in-person, phone, and email conversations.

Solution: When they connect with your business, it should be easy for them to find the right person to speak with. Therefore, your teams need to be organized with useful department extensions or email addresses. An IVR system will come in handy here; offer menu options to callers such as Press 1 for Sales, Press 2 for Customer Support, Press 3 for Billing & Accounting, etc. Route calls effectively using attribute-based routing to ensure customers get the help they need with their preferences in mind.

5. Impatient or Rude Staff

Problem: This is a no-brainer. Agents that are impatient and trying to quickly resolve a call without making the customer feel welcomed and valuable or are rude and condescending will lose customers promptly.

Solution: Train your agents and reps to adopt active and empathetic listening, be patient on their calls, and behave appropriately with customers. We recommend that you use these customer service tips for 2020.

6. Staff Not Helpful or Knowledgeable

Problem: Customer complaints also include staff or agents being unhelpful or unaware of a solution. When customers interact with your business for customer support, it is usually to inquire about a product or resolve an issue they are facing. And so, they expect to talk to someone who has the knowledge and expertise to assist them.

Solution: Train agents in the subject matter of your product and service as well as the industry they serve. Create knowledge bases for employees to use when they are in a pinch and need additional support. Furthermore, you may even consider call barging and call whispering to have supervisors and managers enter a call and provide support.

7. Poor Product or Service

Problem: Another common complaint is that the quality of the product or service is poor and deceptive. Customers may feel that the description of your product or service doesn’t match the result which can lead to cancellation and refund requests.

Solution: Take these complaints seriously because they may be an indication of a much larger problem with your product or service. Customer feedback is useful not only in improving the development of your service but also in understanding your customers’ expectations and preferences. Train your staff to deal with unhappy customers. Once you see a common issue with your product, be prepared with solutions, alternatives, refunds, or promotions for future customers that may experience the same issue.

Why Paying Attention to Customer Complaints is Important

Listening to your customers and their complaints can help you improve how you serve them. Additionally, it will help you offer better and more efficient service. This can directly enhance customer support and increase customer retention, as these two factors are necessary for any business’ success!