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If you ever talked about the nuances of a World War II battle to a friend who doesn’t care about history, talked about baseball to someone who doesn’t watch sports, or tried to discuss a piece of artwork with someone uninterested, you know this truth well. 

One has to know his audience.

It’s important in making small talk. It’s essential in marketing and customer acquisition. 

The importance of knowing your audience and speaking context - YouTube

In order to successfully acquire, keep, and satisfy clients a company must have a clear idea of who the clients are.

That is where the process of customer profiling comes in. 

Customer profiling is like sketching the portrait of your customers who are typical users of your services or products.
To read more: https://t.co/VZsnEzjaNh#Marketers #accountbasedmarketing #surethinks #marketingtips #marketingtool #customerprofiling #marketingstrategies pic.twitter.com/WjfwjHNUkO

— Surethinks (@surethinks) July 8, 2019

What is customer profiling?

Customer profiling is a process during which a company creates a depiction of its customers. The profiles then grouped together based on similar characteristics. The company then uses these profile groups to make key decisions in terms of its products, services, designs etc.

While a clear picture of existing customers is a must, a company also needs to know who its ideal customer is as well. 

Understanding what your existing customer types are and why they are buying from you allows you to see their individual needs. 

Knowing your ideal customer types gives you an opportunity to target specific groups that might not be in your customer base right now. 

Your customer data is not simply a guide for constructing marketing messages. Most companies find that incorporating this vital information into their decision-making provides outsize returns. They can now craft products or introduce services which they know will serve a need. 

Not knowing to whom your products and services must appeal is like crossing the street with your eyes closed.

How Customer Profiling Works

Customer profiling proceeds differently for each client and industry. 

Here are five steps to successful customer profiling that will help you come up with a portrait of your client base and help you shape services and products based on those clients’ needs.

Steps to Customer Profiling
  1. Identify the goal of your product or service.

What is the problem your company’s faces that you want to solve? Do you want to attract more visitors to your site? Increase conversions on your landing page? Get more people to sign up for your free trial? Provide better customer service to your existing clients?

Keeping the goal of the final solution in mind, your customer profiling process will be more focused and efficient. 

  1. Create the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)

Creating the ICP provides a clear picture of what you are seeking in a client. By setting forth your ideal client expectation you are setting in motion a process of getting these clients on board.

There are several templates and guides available to accomplish this step.

Asking the right questions is important, so make sure you set out with a list that supports the goals you set for yourself in Step 1. 

Find Your Niche: 20 Questions to Create a Customer Profile - YouTube

The questions involved will vary, though ultimately the goals are usually the same: collect their demographic interviews, and then determine from their perspective how well your business is serving their needs and where there are untapped opportunities.

  1. Collect Information on Existing Customers

This is a crucial step in customer profiling because you can’t really decide where you’re going without seeing where you’ve been. Perhaps you’re already hitting your ideal market and just need a niche focus. Perhaps you want to expand on the existing base. Again, always keep your initial goal in mind.

In this step it’s easy to get a bit creepy and overstep the boundaries of privacy

Banks around the world have now begun using mobile data in order to improve customer profiling and get access to a credit score. Some feel this borders on invasion of privacy, let us know what you think in the comments below!#POSLABS #banks #mobiledata https://t.co/nlTdQpyFnE

— POSLabs (@myPoslabs) July 15, 2019

The key to staying within the boundaries of appropriateness is to use information that your clients shared directly with you or as part of your onboarding process. 

Using ticketing management software can give you a lot of information on each client and his history with your brand. 

Other tools like surveys and email questionnaires are also great ways to get direct feedback from your clients. 

Social listening is a useful technique used by many marketing to learn about current trends and clients’ needs. 

 

  1. Implement customer Profile into CX Journey Map/Create Journey Map

Now that you have all the information about the customers – potential, ideal, and current – you may use to enhance another great tool you should be using – customer journey map

The map, which is a visual representation of everything your clients are doing, seeing, and feeling as they interact with your brand. 

 

5. Use the Map and the Profile to Target Marketing

From here, it’s up to the business. 

These profiles let firms find what differentiates them from the competition in the eyes of the customers, and dozens of other useful points. 

Equipped with profiles a company can figure out an appropriate communications strategy which will deliver the best possible marketing message to the right type of consumer, at the best possible time. 

Similarly, companies often find new opportunities for selling their products, creating new ones, or increasing sales in existing channels.

Here is an example. Having identified customer types, the business can now ask — what kind of TV shows and magazines will the customers read? What kind of marketing material would appeal to the most? What other brands do they consume?

Based on the answers to all of these questions, often new – and much more powerful – advertising strategies become obvious, and opportunities for joint venture deals reveal themselves.

Conclusion 

Customer profiling creates a picture of a company’s clientele. This picture, especially when used together with other techniques such as customer journey mapping, can allow a company to direct its marketing and development efforts in new and efficient ways.

How does customer profiling help your company succeed?

 

The post Don’t Be a Creep: Five Steps to Customer Profiling appeared first on LiveHelpNow Blog.

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Established in 1999, CPAP.com has been dedicated to providing affordable Sleep Apnea equipment and superior customer service to its clients for 20 years. 

According to their website, whether the CPAP staff is serving customers in-store or online, their goal is to provide “unmatched customer service.” 

I sat down with CPAP.com’s CSR Manager, Elizabeth Hamilton, to find out how the brand has brought their award-winning customer service to their website with live chat. 

We also dive into how her team is using live chat to improve their customer satisfaction scores.

Elizabeth Hamilton, CSR Manager at CPAP.com

Q: Your team has won numerous LiveHelpNow Challenge awards for providing excellence in customer service with live chat. What do you attribute to your continuous success?

A: Our CSRs are really the reason why we’ve been able to be so successful. They are the backbone of our company. 

CPAP.com has a really in-depth product knowledge base that we pass on to our CSRs throughout their training. So, they’re required to learn everything about our products from general information to helping customers troubleshoot with the products. So, with having that knowledge, they can respond quickly and accurately to our customers whenever they come in with questions and requests. 

62% of customers feel a customer service representative’s knowledge was the most important factor in their interaction, and 51% of customers prefer technical support through a knowledge base. @AmericanExpress @Econsultancy
Click To Tweet

A: We also encourage our CSRs to really bring in an empathetic ear to the conversation. We really want our customers to feel heard even over chat…to know that there’s a human on the other end of the conversation. 

An emotional connection to a brand means customers have a 306% higher lifetime value, and 71% of these customers recommend brands to their friends. @Motista #customerservice #customerexperience
Click To Tweet

  

CPAP.com wants their customers to know they care on-screen and off-screen. Here they are attending a local walk for breast cancer.

 

Q: Once you implemented live chat on the CPAP.com website, about how long did it take for you to notice that it was having a positive effect?  

A: We noticed immediately.  We were able to get customer feedback instantly through the satisfaction surveys that we set up. We did already have a previous chat client, so we wanted to make sure that it was seamless for our customers. So, we made sure we set up those satisfaction surveys so we knew exactly how we were doing.

Customer satisfaction ratings for live chat are often higher than all other support channels, likely because of the speed and conversational nature. @customerthink ‏#customerservice #livechat
Click To Tweet

Q: Where did you notice it having the biggest effect first? Sales? Lead Generation? Customer Satisfaction?

A: I would say the biggest impact was on our customer satisfaction, which you can say that directly affects sales in a positive way. Because of the nature of our business, we’re not able to take orders over chat, but we are able to impact that by giving them great customer service, by getting them the knowledge that they need, by telling them, “hey we’ll have someone call you back.” So, really just seeing that customer satisfaction…that made a huge difference.

Satisfied clients resulted in a 30% increased profitability for a business as they were 80% more likely to renew the services. @HelpScout #customersatisfaction
Click To Tweet
Q: Since you have implemented live chat on the CPAP.com website, what type of impact has it had on the company’s sales and revenue?

A: We’re still in the process of collecting and analyzing data to really see the true impact that LiveHelpNow has had on our sales, but I can share with you that our customer satisfaction has improved by 15% since providing a new avenue for customers to reach us. So, we have really seen a good impact there.  

Our customer satisfaction has improved by 15% since providing a new avenue for customers to reach us.

Q: How do your customers feel about having the option to live chat with your staff? Have they given any type of feedback regarding their chat interactions?

A: Yes. So, we actually do the [post-chat] surveys. So, we’re able to see immediately what they think. Our customers love the ability to chat with us rather than always having to call in or if they email us having to wait for that response.

We continually receive positive feedback about our chat.  Some of the specifics are that it’s fast, that issues are resolved efficiently, and our customers love the assistance they get from our CSRs, who of course are knowledgeable and friendly with them.

Brands are viewed more favorably by 77% of consumers if they proactively invite and accept customer feedback. @Microsoft
Click To Tweet

A: And, I wanted to just share some pieces of feedback that we’ve gotten in from customers that I just pulled from our chat surveys (we get them all the time):

“An immediate response. An agent was excellent and quickly answered my questions”

Another one from another customer: “The rep answered all my questions and guided me to next steps and products that I needed.”

This one calls out on of our CSRs by name:  “Bianca understood, quickly addressed, and resolved my issue. I wish all customer service reps were as good as Bianca.”

So, we get some really great feedback from customers.

Q: So, how does your staff feel about using the LiveHelpNow live chat software to chat with and assist customers? 

A: They love it. One of our favorite things is to be able to quickly see which web pages customers are on, so that we can see that ‘Oh, they’re looking at this product,’ and we’re able to just jump in there and help them. On both sides, it’s really beneficial.

CEO Johnny Goodman, with CPAP.com’s lead chat representative, Crystal McKenna, who has since been promoted to a CSR Team Lead. Q: What is your approach for training your staff to use the LiveHelpNow live chat software to provide the exceptional customer service they deliver consistently ( i.e. use of incentives for agents, positive culture, etc.)?

A: Our CSRs really come from a deep bench of knowledge. So, they learn how to assist customers through LiveHelpNow only after they have been on the phone talking with customers to gain that experience first. So, it translates very easily from phones to chat. 

CPAP.com team members Andre and Sam getting familiar with CPAP machines, so they can better assist customers with their troubleshooting questions.

A: We train our CSRs on proper chat etiquette, not using shorthand, and really to talk with the customer using words and phrases that ensure a positive customer experience. And, again empathy…really relating to the customer and what they are going through.

Our team of CSRs love working in LiveHelpNow. So, really just the feature itself is an incentive…so, the fact that they get to work those shifts where they can chat with customers. 

Also, we use a platform called Bonusly, which is an internal recognition system that allows our CSRs to recognize each other, and managers, of course, are on that as well. It’s really just to give people a shout out. It’s a point system that does add up to monetary value, but really it’s about the recognition. 

Companies using incentive programs report a 79% success rate in achieving their established goals when the correct reward is offered. @EngageTrends ‏ #employeeengagement
Click To Tweet
Q: Why do you think live chat customer service is working so well for CPAP.com? 

A: Well the platform (LiveHelpNow) is easy to implement and really beneficial to our customers because they get help instantly. It also has an intuitive backend, making it easy for our CSRs to use on our side as well. 

Q: What would be your advice for other call centers implementing live chat in their organizations to make sure it is done properly and efficiently? 

A: First, what’s really, really important is just determining exactly what you’re trying to achieve with your live chat system. Are you trying to make it easier for your customer?  Are you wanting to increase your chats? Just figuring out all of those things beforehand…Thinking about what you want to accomplish and exactly what that’s going to look like for your customer is really important.

Companies that excel at the customer experience drive revenues 4% to 8% higher than those of their market. @BainInsights
Click To Tweet

Also, doing a lot of testing along the way such as mock chats between CSRs to make sure that everything is working and that your CSRs are completely trained in the platform before you go live. Taking the time to create an extensive list of chat templates…like I said before the canned responses…that was huge for us also because it really helped the CSRs to answer questions quickly while they were still learning how to use the platform.

Key Takeaways:
  • 62% of customers feel a customer service representative’s knowledge is the most important factor in their interaction. All of CPAP.com’s live chat agents are thoroughly trained and provided with proper resources prior to utilizing LiveHelpNow’s live chat software to effectively assist customers. (American Express)
  • CPAP.com encourages all of their CSRs to bring in an empathetic ear to each conversation. An emotional connection to a brand means customers have a 306% higher lifetime value, and 71% of these customers recommend brands to their friends. (Motista)
  • CPAP.com has post-chat surveys in place, so its staff can immediately see how their customers feel about their interaction with the company’s live chat agents.  Brands are viewed more favorably by 77% of consumers if they proactively invite and accept customer feedback. (Microsoft)
  • The customer service department has a recognition/incentive program in place to acknowledge top performing agents. Companies using incentive programs report a 79% success rate in achieving their established goals when the correct reward is offered. (EngagementTrends)
  • Before implementing live chat software, CPAP.com’s team found it imperative to outline what they wanted to accomplish and to envision what their strategy would look like to their customers (i.e. they thought about what the customer experience would look like). Companies that excel at the customer experience drive revenues 4% to 8% higher than those of their market. (Bain & Company)

For more business tips and customer service advice like LiveHelpNow on Facebook or follow our business page on LinkedIn.

The post How CPAP.com Improved Their Customer Satisfaction Scores by 15% with Live Chat appeared first on LiveHelpNow Blog.

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“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

The author of the famous wisdom, Benjamin Franklin, might have not spoken about customer service specifically. But we will go ahead and apply it to that.

In customer service prevention is achieved through proactive customer care. Reactive customer care, while sometimes unavoidable, is the proverbial cure. 

What is the Difference and Why is it Important?

Proactive customer service is one of the key components to positive customer experience. 

In contrast with reactive customer support, proactive customer service addresses issues before they become problems. 

Here is an example of the difference between proactive and reactive customer support:

A company’s server goes down. 

While the technical problem is being investigated, the company’s customer support team answers the telephone as customers call in reporting the problem. The agents explain what happened to the clients, promising a speedy resolution. 

This is reactive customer support.

While the customers might be understanding of the problem, they have already gotten upset enough about it to call in. 

If however, as soon as the problem is detected, the agents reach out to customers via mass email notification to let them know that the website is experiencing difficulties, that becomes proactive customer service. 

The clients might still be upset about the malfunction, but they will appreciate the notice and will be able to plan their activities accordingly.

With this minor change, the company promotes more positive feelings among its clientele. 

After all, it shows that a company puts the customer first. It shows care, personalization, and makes the customers feel special.

Ways to Achieve Proactive Customer Care

Providing proactive customer service is not an easy task. 

In his Forbes article, customer service expert Shep Hyken outlines five ways to deliver proactive customer service:

  • Knowing your customers 
  • Getting leaders on board 
  • Dedicating time and effort 
  • Assembling the right team 
  • Building customer service into the culture 

Applying these strategies to everyday operations will help drive proactive customer service. That, in turn, will make for happier customers.

How can a company use these excellent strategies using help desk software? Let’s find out.

Using Help Desk Software to Be Proactive Knowing your customer is essential to be proactive. 
  • One way to do that is creating customer journey map

This visual representation of what customers do, think, and feel really helps getting to know the ductomer. With the map at hand customer service agents can know exactly where a customer is on her journey and take preventative proactive steps if an issue arises. 

A customer journey map takes many forms, but this is not one of them.#customerjourney #strategicplanning pic.twitter.com/Hu2Xc4c3Aa

— Michael Solomon (@mikesolo) July 9, 2019

  • Another great way to know your customers is to get information about them and their experiences with your company through surveys and questionnaires. 

You can gauge the quality of your support by prompting customers to fill out a brief satisfaction survey after their live chats are complete or when tickets are resolved. 

Then review survey statistics for your account, department and by the operator to determine best practices and identify top performers.’

Getting leaders on board is important as customer service agents do need certain tools to perform proactive tasks.

It’s up to the company leaders to provide those tools.

  • Live Chat 

Instead of having a customer search for a live chat window on the company’s site, it is a much more proactive practice to have a pop-up window appear when a client first visits the site. That way if he or she has questions or concerns help is already on standby.

  • FAQs

The knowledge base is a great tool as it allows both the client and the support agent to access information about a product or service.

LiveHelpNow Knowledge Base - YouTube

Having a FAQ section available and prominently visible on the company’s site proactively answers many of the questions customers might have.

  • Ticket Management System

Staying on top of your customer service game entails staying organized when it comes to your client communications. A ticket management system helps you stay on track. #ticketmanagement #email #CustomerService https://t.co/WxeDSH4X20

— LiveHelpNow (@LiveHelpNow) July 14, 2019

This handy tool organizes all of your client communications, be it live chat, email, or ticket form submissions. Keeping all of the communications and customer experience history handy allows support agents to address issues in a quick and efficient manner

LiveHelpNow Ticket System - YouTube

  • Email newsletters

Keeping in touch with past and present clients may help get you future clients and raise your revenue. Eighty percent of business professionals believe that email marketing increases customer retention, Studies show that email generates $38 for every $1 spent. Staying on top of current news and updates is an excellent way to proactively deliver information to your clientele. 

  • Recognition 

There is no better way to proactively engage with your clients than to recognize and show your appreciation for their business. If a client has been doing business with a company for a while, it’s important to express gratitude and reward the client for his loyalty. 

Red Point Global reports that 63% of consumers expect personalization as a standard of service and believe they are recognized as an individual when sent special offers.

Here at Live Help Now we invite all of our clients to participate in Live Help Now Customer Service Challenge. The winners of the challenge are determined based on various parameters of customer service excellence. We find that such challenge not only motivates our clients to succeed but also recognized them for their efforts.

Dedicating time and effort is a no brainer. You reap what you sow. 
  • Training is the key. A company’s support agents must have knowledge of all operations in order to provide stellar customer service. A well-trained employee can confidently take the initiative to take care of the clients in a proactive manner. 

For live chat agents, reviewing an agent handbook and coming back to it periodically can result in a better understanding of all the ins and outs of customer experience.

The FAQ database mentioned above is also a valuable source for training customer support agents.

  • Personalization of services is another proactive strategy to employ. Customers expect personalization. Studies show that 79% of consumers say they are only likely to engage with an offer if it has been personalized to reflect previous interactions the consumer has had with the brand.

Assembling the right team is probably the most essential tool.

Even with all the available technology members of the support team are the key components of proactive interactions with clients.

How your team chooses to interact with clients will determine if the customer service your company provides is proactive or reactive customer service.

  • Hiring the right team is a starting point. You have to make sure your team member’s vision matches your company’s goals and visions. 
  • Constantly improving and growing your team’s talents and customer service techniques is also important. Don’t stay stagnant. 
  • Happy employees make for happy customers. Invest in your employees’ satisfaction and the results will show that the efforts are worth it. \

Your team should have the drive to proactively engage with clients and use all help desk tools available to help them do so.

via GIPHY

Building customer service into the culture

Customer service should not be one department’s job. It should be the whole company’s vision. Customer experience is important for the entire duration of the client’s business with the company, not just when issues arise. 

Stressing that and building that into the entire company’s vision and operations will help make actions proactive before any issues even arise. 

The happy secret to better work | Shawn Achor - YouTube

Conclusion

Proactive customer experience improves customer satisfaction. Companies can interact with customers proactively by employing various tactics through help desk software. 

Which strategies do you employ to improve your company’s proactive customer service? 

The post How to Provide Proactive Customer Service Using Help Desk Technology appeared first on LiveHelpNow Blog.

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“It’s hard to make a difference when you can’t find your keys”

It’s hard to make a difference when you can’t find your keys – one of my favourite #book titles. So true, Marilyn pic.twitter.com/QRwy0u9L4H

— Juliet Landau-Pope (@jlpcoach) April 8, 2017

We love this book about organization and order; its title truly delivers a really great point – it’s hard to accomplish great things without the right tools.

It’s hard to deliver a superior customer service experience if your email box is full, unorganized, and is hard to navigate.

If that ever happened to you – read on.

We explain everything you need to know about the ticket management system or helpdesk suite – a unique tool that organizes, keeps track, and manages all your customer service communications.

What is a Ticket Management System?

Here at LiveHelpNow we offer the ticketing management system as one of the many customer support tools we develop.

You can get the helpdesk system with or without other customer service software such as live chat and FAQ builder. Either way, it can be an extremely helpful addition to your customer support tool arsenal.

Email remains one of the most popular forms of communication when it comes to customer service.

Statistics show that an average office worker receives 121 emails per day.

So it really is a no brainer that a company that receives a substantial number of email communications employs a tool that keeps all communications organized.

The ticket management system is much more than an e-mail organizer, however.

Helpdesk suite integrates with the company’s website and puts all parts of the puzzle in one convenient place. All of the customer service communications – emails, troubleshooting forms, text, social media, and even voice messages.

A ticket system is better than many other methods of dealing with customer questions or reported issues. It keeps a history log, a status update, any notes, comments, and resolution records, all in one place.

Once a customer sends an email or fills out a form on a company’s website, the communication usually goes into one general email inbox.

Without a helpdesk tool, there is really no way to make sure that tickets are read by the right person. There is no way to check or track whether the customer’s problem or issue has been fixed. Because all the messages go into the same pot it can be difficult to manage this pool.

In addition, even if the problem is fixed, nobody knows if the person who sent in the email has received any information about the issue at hand.  That can be frustrating to customers and employees.

A ticket management system, on the other hand, is specifically designed to organize issues as they are reported and keeps track of all fixes made.

LiveHelpNow Ticket System - YouTube

Key Features of Ticket Management Systems

1. Intelligent Inbox

With the ticket management system, you have the option to create a unified inbox.

  • Emails that customers send you are turned into trackable tickets that include attached files and keep conversations threaded together.
  • You can send customers automated ticket status notifications that include your company messaging.
  • You can manage support workflows manually or automatically with ticket triggers.
  • Simple email forwarding rule to your existing support inboxes puts all of your customer emails in one convenient dashboard.
  • If your site includes web forms for inquiries that you’d like to handle as tickets then the email submissions they generate can also be managed via email-to-ticket integration.
  • Support your brand by adding your company logo and messaging to the ticket submission form.
2. Ticket Triggers

This feature allows you to set parameters within the system to direct messages to the right place.

  • Automatic ticket assignment to the right agents based on the email subject, email body, email source, ticket category, and many other possible conditions.
  • Trigger changes to ticket status, priority, category, and other ticket attributes automatically.
  • You can schedule your ticket triggers for specific time periods and days of the week.

Ticket Triggers - YouTube

3. Whisper technology
  • Just like with live chat, ticketing management system allows external watchers to monitor communications.
  • This feature helps with training, proper supervision, and quality control.
  • Tickets can be reassigned if need to.
  • If a ticket addresses various issues that require answers from different departments, agents can take turns answering the questions, transferring the ticket, and moving it along.
4. History Log

Similarly to the live chat history log, this feature allows agents to review everything connected to the customer inquiry – notes, communications, comments, resolutions, prior live chats etc. It really makes the ticketing management system a true problem tracking solution.

  • Review the history log of all interaction related to the ticket, including any past chats.
  • Monitor all cross-department interactions, transfers, and resolutions
  • Open ticket reminders allow for automatic ticket management
5. Multi-Brand Support

Managing more than one brand can get confusing, especially with multi-channel communications in place.

  • Forward each brand’s email to your account to bring email communication into the platform.
  • Each incoming email will follow specific rules set up for each brand as far as routing and automation.
  • Setup email templates for each brand to carry the brand’s image and language.

The ticket management system employes various integration technologies. They connect all of your customer support channels. So implementing it into your daily customer service management is essential for saving time and resources when it comes to client inquiries.

And because as we say here at Live Help Now, waiting is for bus stops and lobbies.

via GIPHY

The post A Tool that Makes a Difference: Ticket Management System appeared first on LiveHelpNow Blog.

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The term customer lifecycle management sounds like a topic that would be suited better for an MBA thesis than a small business strategy.

It involves understanding concepts that include the key factors of generating more revenue at lower costs and bringing in more profits.

It also involves developing strategies that you can use not only to reach your customers, but to keep them for life.

Though customer lifecycle management is a complex process, understanding its intricacies is imperative in order for your business to enjoy years of success.

Yes, there are countless books to be read on the topic.

However, in this fast-paced life, there isn’t always time to dive head first into a 300-page explanation.

So, we’ve decided to provide you with the abridged version.

Here we’ve broken down the customer lifecycle management process into 5 easy steps.

The 5 Steps of Understanding Customer Lifecycle Management Step 1: Reach

Your reach is when and where you make your first contact with your customers. It is the first time they become aware of your brand.

You can reach your customer in any number of ways (i.e. magazine ads, coupons in the local circular, word of mouth, etc.)

However, in the current market, it’s common knowledge that people are spending a majority of their time online.

According to @pewresearch, 26% of US adults are almost always online. 77% of adults go online daily. #consumerbehavior #customerexperience #lifecyclemanagement
Click To Tweet

According to Pew Research, 26% of US adults are almost always online. The same study found that 77% of adults go online daily. 

So, the key is to get in front of them as they surf the web. 

Today, 97% of marketers are using social media to reach their audiences (Hubspot).

Here’s Forbes New York Business Council (via Each Penny Bookkeeping) with advice on how to reach the hyperconnected masses.

Content marketing is making a real impact on #SmallBusinesses looking to reach customers at an affordable price. Here’s how it can boost your #Entrepreneurship. https://t.co/YZX6CGUXFs pic.twitter.com/SHVfo4P1TC

— Each Penny Bookkeeping, LLC (@eachpenny) June 28, 2019

Step 2: Acquisition

So, you’ve made initial contact, and the potential customer knows who you are. 

Now, it’s time to make a good first impression. 

Remember, any interaction you have with a customer post-reach (and pre-conversion) will have a direct effect on whether they convert or head off to greener pastures.

In today’s market, consumers are constantly bombarded with pop-up ads, mass email campaigns, and targeted remarketing posts. 

So, standing out in the crowd isn’t easy.

However, it can still be done if you personalize your social media strategy. 

In fact, 61% of marketers list social media as their top acquisition channel over SEO and Direct Traffic (Yotpo).

D2C Brands Point to Social Media As Their Leading Customer Acquisition Channel https://t.co/U7Ea3elEGs pic.twitter.com/6fEAGvgDSi

— Grey Visual Mktg. (@GreyVisual) June 25, 2019

The key to social media acquisition is to connect with your audience on a personal level.

79% of consumers want to see that brands care, before they consider making a purchase (Wantedness).

So, interact with your followers by liking and replying to their posts. Show support for local charities. And, post quality content that they’ll find worth sharing. 

If they can relate to you, they can trust you. And, if they can trust you, they’ll buy from you.

Step 3: Conversion

We’ve now arrived where the magic happens (or it doesn’t). 

This is the stage where the “window shopper” becomes your customer. This is where it gets real. 

You have been preparing for this moment by providing them with content relevant to their interests…by showing them you can relate to them (as discussed in step 2). 

According to marketing data experts at Aberdeen, targeting users with content relevant to their position along the buying process yields 72% higher conversion rates.

So, you’ve already spent a lot of time tailoring the courtship process to their needs. 

Why stop now?

Continue delivering the best brand experience you can possibly provide them with throughout the length of the buying process. 

Companies that prioritize the customer experience generate 60% higher profits than their competitors. @KapowEvents #customerexperience #customerjourney
Click To Tweet

Data collected by Kapow shows that companies that prioritize the customer experience generate 60% higher profits than their competitors. 

Make sure you are on standby to assist and answer any crucial questions. If you’re not highly responsive at this stage you will most likely lose them. 

In addition, make the entire process as seamless as possible. 

For example, provide a simple checkout process to reduce friction. Have clear timelines on order fulfillment and visible policies on returns and guarantees.

Check out the Ultimate Guide to Customer Experience by Convince & Convert below.

The Ultimate Guide to Customer Experience | Convince & Convert https://t.co/15HHJl9Pl8 pic.twitter.com/2AjMFrhJcx

— Andreas Meyer (@MeyerDigital) July 1, 2019

Step 4: Retention

So, you made the sale. That doesn’t mean your work is done. Far from it. 

The customer lifecycle doesn’t stop at the sale. And, neither does your effort to make them fall in love with your brand.  

For two reasons, this stage is even more important than the conversion stage. 

  1. Your existing customers are your most valuable asset. 80% of your future profits will come from just 20% of your existing customers (SmallBizTrends).

    Your existing customers are your most valuable asset. 80% of your future profits will come from 20% of your existing customers. @smallbiztrends #customerretention #customerservice #lifecyclemanagement
    Click To Tweet

  2. Just because they’re your customers now, doesn’t mean they’ll be your customers forever. This is the stage where customers are easily lost. If you’re going to keep them, you have to continue providing a superior experience. 47% of customers surveyed have switched companies after a single instance of poor customer service (SmallBizTrends).

    47% of customers surveyed have switched companies after a single instance of poor customer service. @smallbiztrends #customerexperience #customerservice
    Click To Tweet

The best way to provide an outstanding customer experience is through personalization. 

Unfortunately, cookie-cutter mass email campaigns and general advertisements won’t get the job done.

So, utilize CRM software to compile individualized, detailed customer profiles. Then, use that information to build an even stronger relationship with them. 

Always address them by name. Send them special offers based on their interests. And, never forget to express your appreciation for their continued support.

Here’s a great resource from Advalo that contains more helpful strategies on how develop relevant business-to-consumer communications.

How relevant messaging impacts customer retention and loyalty.https://t.co/4rjAwU3Y0a

— Advalo (@Advalo_US) July 3, 2019

Step 5: Loyalty

This is the stage where all of your efforts pay off. 

By this point your customer has made a purchase for the second time, or maybe even a third. 

Note: Research by InMoment shows that 60% of loyal customers will purchase more frequently from their preferred companies.

60% of loyal customers will purchase more frequently from their preferred companies. @WeAreInMoment #customerloyalty #customerjourney #customerservice
Click To Tweet

In addition, your dedication to forging a genuine connection with your buyers has not only turned them into loyal customers, but it’s also turned them into your brand advocates.

In fact, your customers are so thrilled with their experience that they’re tweeting your praises and sharing their love for your product/service with their friends and family.

According to Hubspot Research, 81% of customers trust recommendations from family and friends over those from companies.

The Refer A Pal article featured below has great tips on how you can harness the power of customer loyalty to increase your customer base. 

Increase your customer base by harnessing customer loyalty. Find out how at https://t.co/jP2mj4VAXj. pic.twitter.com/6jTKiGJqhx

— referapal (@referapal) July 1, 2019

Congratulations! You’re now on your way to growing your business and expanding your customer base.

For more business tips and customer service advice follow our business page on LinkedIn or Twitter.

The post Understanding The Customer Lifecycle Management Process in 5 Easy Steps appeared first on LiveHelpNow Blog.

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Customer journey mapping – what is it?

“Try to see it my way,

Only time will tell if I am right or I am wrong.

While you see it your way

There’s a chance that we may fall apart before too long.”

Besides being very catchy (and probably sticking in your mind for the rest of the day) this song by the Beatles has some great points.

Wouldn’t it be awesome to be able to know the other person’s perspective in a relationship? 

Like, really know it. Feel the way your partner feels. Understand his or her thoughts.

This could be useful in any relationship – in a friendly one, a romantic one, or a professional one.

We will leave the first two to the professionals with psychology degrees. 

When it comes to understanding your customers, however, we have some ideas on how to learn to understand them a little better. Companies can use a process called customer journey mapping to understand customer experience – from beginning to end. 

Don’t worry, the process is not as complicated as, say, figuring out what your girlfriend is thinking.  

In the article, we will break it down for you.

It might even be catchy enough to stick with you like the Beatles song.

What is Customer Journey Mapping

A customer journey map is an illustration or diagram of all the touchpoints your customers have with your company, online or off.

The maps vary from customer to customer and from industry to industry.

Below are some examples of what a customer journey map might look like.

A purely visual one:

Source

One with a bit more information:

Source

One that contains both, vivid visuals and data point:

Source

Marketing experts agree that understanding what the customers are doing and feeling is important to building successful customer experiences. 

If we have a clear picture of what customers think, do, and feel throughout their entire experience with our company – before, during, and after the actual transaction – we can adjust and tailor what we do to make that experience more satisfying. 

The customer journey mapping process is such an important part in planning for an amazing customer experience. Success doesn’t happen by accident. The journey map is part of creating deliberate success.

— Shep Hyken (@Hyken) July 3, 2018

Just knowing what your customers are doing and feeling is one thing. Seeing it in a visual form of an illustration – or map – is much more beneficial. Sharing the document with everyone on your team can also put everyone on the same page. Literally.

By understanding what [customers’] motivations are, you can understand how to structure your touchpoints to create the most effective and efficient process for your customers. A customer journey map maps out the current process, from the first to final touchpoint, to see if your customers are currently reaching the goals and, if not, how they can.

Customer journey maps help us connect with our clients better because we have a visual representation of what they are doing. We can connect with them on a more personal level. and understand their challenges and frustrations. We can recognize opportunities to create more positive experiences with our brand. 

Steps to Creating a Map

So what are some steps to successful customer journey mapping?

If you ask five different marketing experts how to successfully create a customer journey map you will probably get five different answers.

Here is a quick guide we put together after reviewing tips and strategies of customer journey mapping from the top customer experience professionals.

Step 1. Plan

In this step, we select the persona whose experience we are tracking and whatever goal he or she may have.

It’s best to pick one persona, one scope, and one scenario. Doing so avoids a map that is too generic and too vague.

How to select the perfect person for your mapping? By asking the following questions:

The basics:

  • age
  • household income
  • marital status
  • location
  • gender 

via GIPHY

Further questions to consider:

  • How do they like to interact with vendors?
  • How do they learn about products/services like yours?
  • What are other items they have purchased in your niche?
  • What do they engage with in relation to your competitors?
  • Where are they most active when looking for solutions to problems?
  • What content formats do they engage with?
Step 2. Identify touch points

Touchpoints are all the interactions your persona will have with your company. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

This is where you can review how and when customers interact with your company. You can identify the moments of truth, which are the times when certain interaction will determine if the customer will remain a loyal patron or if he or she will leave the business.

You can find out what are some pain points a customer might encounter during the experience.

How To Discover Your Ideal Client’s Pain Points and Values - YouTube

It’s also valuable to learn what your company is doing right. Tools such as online reviews and other client feedback channels can come useful during this stage.

Step 3. Empathize

This is where the good stuff is; this is where you walk a mile in your customer’s shoes. 

You find out how your customers feel throughout their experience with your brand. 

Some questions to ask during this step include what the customers are doing, seeing, hearing, and feeling.

Getting this information and supporting it with data, documents, photos, videos, responses, and other input from the customer service team as well as the customers themselves will give the customer journey mapping some substance.

You can use an empathy map template like the one below for this step.

Source

This crucial part of the map will help determine the overall customer satisfaction with your company and brand.

Step 4. Brainstorm

This is where the customer journey mapping process will produce some outcomes.

As a team, you can brainstorm and see what comes up based on the information you’ve gathered so far. 

Brainstorming during customer journey mapping is similar to any other brainstorming session. Members of your team will come up with ideas and then organize them in a relatable to your map.

Kate Kaplan, a UX specialist has great tips on how to organize and prioritize ideas.

How to Prioritize Ideas from UX Brainstorming Sessions - YouTube

Step 5. Create an affinity diagram

Now comes the visual part.

All the data you’ve collected, together with any brainstormed ideas that made the final cut you can put together a diagram that illustrates and brings together everything you’ve learned. 

Some benefits of the affinity diagramming include:

  • Understand what is most important from ambiguous data
  • Tame complexity
  • Identify connections in data
  • Create hierarchies
  • Identifying themes
  • Identify what factors to focus on that will support the most successful design possible from a customer’s perspective.

There are many tools you can use for this step, from a whiteboard and sticky notes to more sophisticated software tools.

Select what works best for you and your team. Be creative. 

This is the final visual result of your customer journey mapping process,

Step 6. Share and Implement

Now that you’ve completed the map it’s time to share it with everyone in your company. This will promote collaborative action on different levels – from sales to the customer service department to marketing.

If everyone has the same vision in mind it will be easier to achieve the goal you set up for your company.  

Conclusion

Understanding your customers’ experience with your brand is essential to your success.

Customer journey mapping puts you in your clients’ shoes and gives you a better understanding of that experience.

Once you complete the process it’s time to continue your work and implement change based on what you’ve learned. 

So get to work!

And before you go, here is that Beatles song you’ve been singing in your head:

The Beatles - We Can Work it Out - YouTube

How does the customer journey mapping help you in your company?

The post Six Steps to Successful Customer Journey Mapping appeared first on LiveHelpNow Blog.

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Running a business without asking your customers’ feedback is like trying to cross a busy street with headphones plugged into your ears while playing Angry Birds on your phone.

If you think customer feedback is only useful for putting out future fires then you are quite mistaken. The customer insights gained from the feedback can reflect very positively on your company’s performance.

Customers’ “opinion is a resource for improving customer experience and adjusting your actions to their needs.”

Keep your ears to the ground by implementing these options for collecting customer feedback.

There are two types of feedback you can receive – prompted (such as contact forms or surveys) and unprompted (clients’ reviews, etc.)

Below are six different mediums through which you can receive customer feedback.

1. Contact forms

Use contact forms on your website to facilitate easy exchange of ideas between customers and your organization. Don’t guide the feedback process by allowing customers to answer only a few pre-set questions. It’s in your own interest to keep the feedback as free-flowing as possible.

HappyForms | Create Amazing Contact Forms For Free - YouTube

Use a ticket management system in the backend so that every customer contact can be managed and tracked.

2. Forums

User forums are another great way to learn what customers think about your products or services. These forums can be hosted by you or by third parties. Monitor these forums for valuable insights and interact regularly with the other members.

Keep in mind that you have to maintain and moderate your forum. An absentee moderator or owner quickly turn an online forum into a dystopian wasteland. A dead forum has the same impact as an abandoned social media profile or a crumbling store- none of them inspire buyer confidence.

3. Social networks

Depending on what you sell, social networks can be immensely beneficial in engaging with customers and getting feedback.

The trick here is to know what social network your customers are active on. Interacting with your market and mining information from social networks is easy to do with a number of tools, both free software and business vendors are available.

A presence on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube is an obvious way to get started.

But this is only scratching at the surface. For example, if you are a restaurant you should look at Yelp. If you are a tour company, focus on TripAdvisor.

4. Live Chat

Live chat is an important tool for customer feedback. Chat is the next best thing to talking with a customer on the phone or face to face- you can get targeted feedback in real time.

These days adding live chat functionality to your website is as easy as signing up for an email account. Pick a good solution that comes with features like robust analytics and live chat transfer.

5. Surveys

Surveys are also widely used to get customer feedback. Done right, they can uncover a lot of things that you might have overlooked otherwise. Design the questionnaire so that the questions are short and concise. Keep the user informed of the progress made.

Keep it simple and as short as possible.

Some further tips- be upfront about the objectives of the survey and give sufficient incentive for users to participate. At the minimum, create a report out of the results of the survey and gift it to them.

6. Customer touchpoints

Asking upfront for feedback after the user has completed a call to action can also give you high-quality feedback. For example, a good time for an e-commerce site to ask for user feedback would be after the customer has completed a transaction. A restaurant or a call center can ask for feedback after the customer has paid the bill or hung up after a call.

Another time to ask for feedback is when a customer stops buying from you or returns your product. The volume of feedback will be less than in the previous scenario but if you ask for it often you will get information that can help you increase general customer satisfaction.

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Despite new technologies, email communications remain relevant. How can customer service representatives use them effectively? Haircut. Email. Customer Service.

A while ago a friend of mine went to get a haircut.

When she returned home and her hair was fully dry she realized her haircut was batched badly.

With hopes to resolve the problem, she emailed the hair salon. She explained her problem, attaching pictures of the unfortunate result.

The response she received was less than pleasant. The hair stylist refused to acknowledge any wrong, got defensive, and accused my friend of not being clear about what she wanted during her visit.

As a result my friend left a bad review for the salon, never went back, and still remembers the bad experience, years later.

This is an example of poor customer service conducted over email.

Ok. #Relatable. But do people still use email?

Yes, they do! Email has been around forever.

It is a very trusted medium throughout generations. My middle schooler has an account and so does my grandpa.

Today it still remains the top medium for communication.

There are over 250 million email users in the United States. Statistical predictions promise that it will grow even higher in the upcoming years.

With such a vast number of users, it is not surprising that even with other channels available consumers still use email as a means of communication when it comes to customer service.  

If you look at email’s penetration in business, researchers say that more than 90% of contact centers offer email. Moreover, the survey found that more than 70% of customers prefer email for communication with companies, leaving every other channel quite behind.

Why is email so popular?

There are several reasons that make this channel a good way for consumers to communicate with companies:

  • Allows attaching files  – like my friend in the story above, who used email so she could add visuals of her horrible experience.
  • Easily accessible – anyone anywhere can set up an account and send an email. And it’s free!
  • Trusted channel – like trusting an elderly gentleman, trusting email is so much easier than, say, a Snapchat.
  • Allows for detailed information about the issue – you can write and write and write. You won’t be cut off if you go over 140 characte…
  • Cost effective – we mentioned it was free, right?
  • Allows for customer surveys – and sometimes someone has 5 mins to waste spare and fills one out
  • Provides documentation of transaction – “yes, you did say that, here is proof!”
  • Adds professional touch – imagine a company without an email address…enough said.
Got it. People still do use email. So what?

Ah, I’m glad you asked. If done right customer service email communication can be a great tool to up your game. If not, it can hurt your business.

Here’s how.

When we read something we are more likely to remember it; 10 percent more likely.

Because email creates a permanent record of communication if something goes wrong a customer has an opportunity to access the email again and “relive” the bad experience.

And share it with her friends.

Years later, when her hair has long grown out from the bad haircut, she will still have the bad customer service email you sent.

The saying goes, people will not remember what you said but they will remember how you made them feel.

A bad customer service email will do both. Now your customers will be able to reread your email and feel terrible all over again.

Like my friend did when she told me the story.

On the other hand, if you do it right, your customer will remember the good experience and will share that with other people.

Americans tell an average of 15 people about a poor service experience, versus the 11 people they’ll tell about a good experience.

I was one of the 11 when Facebook user Kate told me the story of her late cat:

Two years ago I had a diabetic cat with cancer. He lived 3 years with his health issues and required extremely expensive medication, food, and obviously extremely high vet bills. He passed away a couple of days after a big bag of very expensive food was delivered from Amazon. I reached out to see if it would be possible to return an unopened bag of specialty food. I received an email within the same day – “We are so very sorry to learn of your loss. Please donate the food to a local animal shelter that will accept it. Your account has been credited $xxx.xx. it may take 3-5 business days to receive the credit on your account.”

This meant so much that we didn’t have to explain, didn’t have to follow up while grieving, they just did the right thing and suggested we donate to another in need – on them. Having a permanent record of the customer service experience aside, you want to do right by your customer in the moment. You want your customer to have a good experience with your company.

Statistically, 51% of customers will never do business with a company again if they have just one bad experience.

So it’s important to get it right to maintain the trust of your customers.

Oh. So we better do a good job on our email support, but how?

Awesome! Now that we know email communications are essential for good business we can talk about how to rock them.

In one of our previous blog posts we talked about five important ingredients of customer service to ensure customer satisfaction:

Whatever means of communication you use to connect with your customers, it’s important to keep these aspects of customer service in mind.

We’ve discussed ways to up your customer service game in general terms.

While some of these techniques can apply to email communications as well, but there are aspects that apply specifically to email communication.

Below are four great ways to ensure you meet as many of the above criteria of good customer service as possible.

Let’s dig in.

1. Clarity. Say what?

Ensuring clarity supports the first important ingredient of successful customer experience – the quality of communication.

Because you’re not communicating face to face or over the phone it can be easy to misunderstand what your customer means or wants.

The task of being clear lyes on both parties in a communication. But you, as a customer service professional, have more of a responsibility to understand the issue.

Make sure you understand exactly what the issue is and what the customer wants as a resolution of the problem.

Here are a few tips on how to ensure clarity:
  • Ask follow up questions. Confirm and clarify anything that is not 100 percent crystal clear.
  • Make sure you use proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Nothing says unprofessional as much as poorly written email. Use our spelling, grammar, and typing challenge to test your skills.
  • Use formatting and structure to highlight clarity
  • Check all the links you include in the email to make sure they work
  • Use simple language
  • Proofread and review

Clear communication is essential! (in customer service as well as in all of your other relationships).

2. Speed of the response. I want it now!

Speedy responses support the accessibility component of satisfying customer experience.

Even though the customer is choosing email as the medium and knows it’s not an instant gratification situation, he or she still kind of wants a response right away.

Research shows that 41 percent of consumers expect an email response within six hours. Only 36 percent of retailers actually respond that quickly…and 14 percent never respond at all.

via GIPHY

So one way to rise above the competition? Answer quickly.

Sara McCord, an editor of the Muse online magazine, offers great tips on how to answer emails quickly in any situation.

The tips revolve around managing expectations, being honest, and delegating.

3. Personalization and empathy. We all need a friend sometime.

As any customer service expert will tell you, personalization is the key to customer service.

Personalization and empathy support the notion of customer focus, a vital part of great customer experience.

In one of our previous blog posts, we discussed how you can facilitate personalization in your live chat conversations.

Implementing it in your email communications is just as important.

According to Aberdeen personalized email messages improve click-through rates by an average of 14% and conversions by 10%.

Campaign Monitor publication says emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened. And Experian states that personalized emails deliver 6 times higher transaction rates.

Like the story of the cat owner at the beginning of the article demonstrates, empathy and understanding shown through communications make the experience pleasant and memorable enough to share with others.

The power of empathy: Helen Riess at TEDxMiddlebury - YouTube

There are various ways to personalize your customer service emails, including:

  • Using personal customers personal information
  • Starting on a positive note to set the tone – Happy Wednesday! Or Top of the morning to ya!
  • Using details specific to the customer and his or her situation
  • Empathizing with the customer
  • Using humor and light tone
  • Using visuals

Because emails tend to often be written using a template or by cutting and pasting a previously written text, personalization can get lost along the way.

Make sure you add that personal touch to your emails.

And sign your name on the bottom of the email. Have fun with it as long as you keep it professional. No one remembers “customer service representative”. Someone will recall “Tim Smith, the king of customer service.”

Or something like that.

4. Problem Resolution. That’s why we are here, right?

This one is, perhaps, is the most important.

After all, that is why your client is contacting customer service – to solve a problem.

Acing problem resolution speaks to the technical competence as well as to the range of services categories of customer service evaluation.

There are various steps you can take from needing to through customer’s history to referring to a supervisor for effective problem resolution.

via GIPHY

Here are four steps Neil Kokemuller, a customer service expert offers for effective troubleshooting:

  • Listening – our, in our email case – reading the inquiry very carefully.
  • Acknowledging – in your response make sure you state clearly that you understand what the problem is. This also speaks to the customer focus aspect we discussed above.
  • Offering alternatives to solve the problem. Get creative!
  • Follow up – make sure you check on the customer in the near future to ensure satisfaction.

Knowing your products and services is also an essential skill in troubleshooting. So make sure you educate yourself.

Because you are you have more time to write an email than in a chat or phone conversation you have more opportunity to explore the solutions. Use that extra time wisely to truly dedicate yourself to problem resolution.

Conclusion

So what did we learn?

Email communication is an older, but still very much used form of communication when it comes to customer service.

Clarity, Speed, Personalization, and Effective Problem Solving are four aspects you can ace for superior customer service.

How do you make your customer service emails rock?

The post 4 Email Support Tips to Up Your Customer Service Game appeared first on LiveHelpNow Blog.

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