There’s no denying that customer journey and customer experience are hugely important to the success or failure of a business.
You want to keep your customers happy. This has been true since human beings began trading currency for services. And while the means by which we market and serve our customers has undergone a number of changes in the past, the concept of the customer journey has remained important.
One of the places in which the customer journey rises or falls is customer service. Your support staff acts as the face and voice of your brand and, to many customers, this is the only direct interaction they will ever have with your company.
That being said, poor customer service can lead to disastrous results. Why is it so important? What can be done to ensure your customer service department enriches the customer journey?
Read on and see.
What is the Customer Journey?
When developing a marketing plan you’ll hear a lot of people talk about the customer journey, and with good reason. It is one of the most important and valuable sources of information that you’ll need to properly engage your customers.
The customer journey is a map that shows how a customer goes from their initial awareness of your product to an eventual conversion.
It covers all interactions between the customer and your business, creating a veritable sum of experiences that pave the road toward a successful sale. The need for a customer journey map is simple to understand. By properly gaining an understanding of how your customers go from point A to point B, you can coordinate your marketing plan to urge them through the entire process.
A customer journey gives you a full view of what it’s like to be one of your customers. Oftentimes the decision makers of a business might be out of touch with what their base thinks, feels, and expects. This window into the lives of your customers can be helpful in establishing an understanding and crafting marketing methods that are more in keeping with the desires of your audience.
A positive customer journey is all about nurturing the customer experience. The two are closely tied and are directly related to customer service in many ways. Enriching the customer experience allows for increased levels of not only brand awareness, but also that all important brand loyalty.
Your loyal customers are your best customers. That’s why it’s so important to make the customer experience as seamless as it can be. And the best way to do that is through a complete view of the customer journey.
Having a helpdesk ticketing software goes a long way in helping you through your customer journey. A free helpdesk ticketing system will keep track of customer data and present it to you at the right time.
The connection between the customer journey and customer service becomes evident when you think about it. Customer service is one of the defining factors that dictate the customer experience which, in turn, impacts the customer journey.
Do you want to read more about customer journey maps?
Check out this article: The Best Way to Create a Customer Journey Map
Bad Customer Service Turns Customers Away
It’s a fact that poor customer service will drive people away from your product. In terms of retention efforts, positive customer service interactions are just as important as the functionality of your product or service.
You can have the greatest product in the world at the greatest price. But if you have slow, ineffective, and rude customer service representatives, you’re going to see people abandoning your company in droves.
That’s because customer service is one of the key areas which can determine if a customer is happy or not. Unhappy customers lead to a plummeting customer experience, which ends the customer journey before it even has a chance to truly begin.
Bottom line, if a company does not respect its customers, the customers will not respect the company. Their need for the service you offer will not go away. Instead of giving over money to you, they will instead seek out competitors with similar products.
Don’t take our word for it. These facts are backed by numbers.
Studies have shown that 70% of consumers say that they support brands that deliver on great customer service (American Express 2017 Customer Service Barometer). That’s easy to believe. Positive support builds brand loyalty, which in turn leads to increased retention, upselling, and referrals.
Americans will pay 17% more for companies that have reputations for quality customer service (American Express 2017 Customer Service Barometer). Brand awareness can be both good and bad. If you have a reputation for heinous service, you’re going to see less prospects walk through your door. Control the narrative and keep those reviews positive.
With retention being as important as it is, it should be noted that 73% of customers stick with brands that have friendly employees and customer support agents. Kindness goes a long way, even in the B2B marketing world. If your representatives can’t provide a pleasant support experience, customers will not stick with you. Efficiency is only half of the equation.
This becomes more evident when you consider that more than one-third of customers would consider switching brands after just one negative support experience. People don’t react well to poor customer service. That’s why it’s important to hit the nail on the head every single time. You might not get a second chance.
This issue is highly prevalent in the United States as the majority of Americans have declined to make a purchase because of poor customer service. We are a service based society and if your company isn’t willing to put in the work to provide excellent customer support, then the customer journey ends right there with no conversion.
Whether it’s a rude sales person, a support representative that was ill informed, or a request that got lost in the shuffle, the fact of the matter is that poor service will cost you sales.
On the other side of the coin, great service will keep your customers coming back for more. Studies have shown that resolving customer support issues effectively the first time prevents 67% of customer churn.
Retention is Part of Customer Journey
Retaining your existing customers is the key to running a profitable business. There’s no bones about it and it’s a subject that we try to hammer home as much as possible. That’s because good customer service is the key to retaining customers.
Great customer service improves the overall customer experience. That in turn pushes customers through the customer journey, which includes retention.
A lot of people assume that the customer journey ends at a purchase, but that is not true. Upselling and repeat purchases are also vital components that make up a complete customer journey map.
In that way, the customer journey never truly ends. Your existing customers continue supporting you and using your product or service. That cycle continues itself until they drop off.
So, how important is retention? According to certain studies, increasing retention rates by only 5% can lead to a 25% increase in profits. That’s a massive number. Boosting your retention by less than one-tenth could lead to profit increases of more than one fourth.
That’s because repeat customers are 67% more likely to spend more money when doing business with your brand. That comes from trust and loyalty. Two key factors that are forged through positive customer support.
It’s not difficult to see why retaining existing customers is so attractive for businesses of all sizes. Especially when you factor in that attracting new customers can be up to seven times more expensive than retaining existing customers.
When you have a strong retention rate you save a lot of money in external prospecting because the need to bring in a new audience isn’t nearly as severe. But if you have high customer churn year after year you’re constantly grinding and spending to bring in new customers.
In turn, your profit margin will be much worse because you’re putting seven times more money out there to replace all of the customers that were lost as a result of poor service, an issue which could normally be prevented.
How effective is good customer service at moving people into the retention phase of the customer journey? Well, 52% of consumers have made additional purchases from companies that have provided positive customer service experiences, meaning that this is a major player in the retention game and hugely important to the continued profitability of a company.
To summarize, through effective and polite customer service you could stand to decrease the customer churn rate of your company while also decreasing the amount you have to spend on bringing on new customer acquisitions.
The end result is increased profits and an uptick in both brand awareness and loyalty.
Brand Awareness & Loyalty
Brand awareness and brand loyalty. They are highly sought after in the business world. And believe it or not, customer service is closely tied with both of these essential steps in the buyer’s journey.
One of the most interesting and important facts about brand awareness and brand loyalty is that they effectively bookend the entire journey. Brand awareness is the first stage of the customer journey, where the customer first realizes that you exist. They could come upon you as a result of personal research into a series of pain points associated with your product or service. Or perhaps they found you because a friend or colleague recommended you.
A lot of the awareness phase of the customer journey has to do with reputation. Once a brand becomes aware of you, they will move into the next phase, which involves research into your brand and its overall reputation.
Brands develop a reputation from their customer support. That’s not an opinion, it’s a fact. Nothing spreads faster than tales of poor customer service. In fact, the average American tells 15 people about a bad customer service experience.
Not only that, but most customers will read reviews before deciding that company they will do business with. If you have a history of unresponsive, ineffective, or rude customer service interactions, it is something that will come up in the prospect’s research.
They could be instantly turned off if you have a bad service reputation online. That’s the beauty and the danger of brand awareness. There is the good kind of awareness, wherein you have carved out a name for your business that’s associated with quality. There’s also the bad kind of awareness, where the mention of your company is accompanied by eye rolls and negative stories. It all boils down to the difference between being famous and being infamous.
Remember, positive reviews and a good reputation are bred from positive experiences. By addressing customer concerns quickly, with the right answers, and in a friendly manner, you will earn a reputation as being a company that is a genuine pleasure to deal with.
It’s one thing to have problems with your service. But if those problems are addressed pleasantly and efficiently your reputation won’t suffer from it. Once your company’s overall awareness has increased, you will start getting more and more prospects looking for information.
It is possible to bring happiness to those prospects through customer service. Happiness creates a sense of brand loyalty. Customer loyalty is what ultimately drives retention efforts.
If you can breed a sense of loyalty into your customers, your efforts to retain their business become infinitely easier. At that point, customers would think of switching to another brand as a form of betrayal after all of the positive experiences they’ve had with you. Even if your competitors are offering lower pricing, a strong sense of loyalty will keep your customers coming back for more. .
Having a well functioning and efficient product or service is one of the key elements to creating a positive customer journey, but it is only one element.
Friendly, fast, and efficient customer service is the key to developing a positive customer experience that will improve brand awareness and loyalty, drive retention efforts and reduce the amount you have to spend on acquiring new customers.
Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Would you enjoy interacting with your company? Think from their perspective by analyzing the customer journey. Bring your customer service department up to where it needs to be in order to meet the needs of that journey.
Investing in an automated artificial intelligence platform to manage your customer service is a great way to improve its overall effectiveness. Automation services drive retention efforts by routing requests quickly, fielding simple support issues 24 hours per day, and freeing up your human representatives to handle some of the more complicated matters that plague your customers.