Emotions are at the heart of all buying decisions. It’s not just about connecting with a product anymore. Customers want to build emotional ties to your company. Your product may be the best of the best, but customers without a relationship to your company will move on without a backward glance.
On the other hand, companies with strong customer relations blast above their competition. Solid, long-lasting relationships with their customers bring in at least a 25% percent ROI. In fact, a 5% increase of your customer retention rate can result in 25% to 95% profit over the lifetime of the customer. And 17% of consumers will pay more for a product based on excellent service.
More and more companies are acting on these results. Customer experience teams are cropping up in tech companies, aimed at creating a customer-centric culture at all levels, including customer support.
This pays off in customer satisfaction, retention, and the ability to cross-sell and up-sell. In fact, SaaS companies who invest in customer experience may double revenue within 36 months. But where should your company start?
The Importance of Customer Relations
At the center of customer experience is customer relations. As the sum of all customer interactions, customer relations employs the same foundational pieces found in personal relationships. There must be trust, communication, and emotional connections.
All customer interactions break down to two categories: reactive or proactive. Customer support is often reactive, responding to customer inquiries. Proactive customer support interactions include reaching out to customers about promotions or new releases.
Throughout your company, there are many ways to build customer relations. For example, your PR team focuses on sharing to key stakeholders about brand and identity. Marketing provides proactive content and material to customers. And done right, your product experience builds goodwill, as your customers interact with your product.
But above all, there is one team that has the best chance of building relationships, and that’s your customer support team.
The Beginning of Customer Relationships
It all starts with customer support and your customer. When customers call or reach out, they are initiating a relationship. In resolving potential frustrations, your customer support team is the perfect touchpoint to reach customers in positive ways and make those strong emotional connections that lead to relationships.
Whether it is a simple request or a complex product issue, don’t lose sight of the valuable opportunity for building customer relationships. Each interaction with consumers leads to growth in trust, positive emotions, and connections.
How you can optimize your customer support team’s interactions? Put customers first, spend time on training, and communicate strategically.
Empathy in Problem Solving
Every interaction with your customers has an emotional component. Your service agents need training to resolve any issues with empathy. This includes awareness of another person’s needs and feelings, active listening, authentic communication, and ultimately, resolving the situation.
We never know what other people have going on in their lives—and this includes your agents or your customers. So when a customer calls with extreme emotions, if your agents are trained to respond empathetically, they can help turn around a negative interaction to a positive one. And 68% of customers shared that a pleasant representative was key to their recent positive service experiences.
With the proper training, agents resolve issues with a goal of authentic, relationship-building interactions. This affects your customer relations positively, and means happy, long-term customers.
And let’s not underestimate the important of these long-term, emotional ties to a brand. Customers with a strong relationship:
- Have a 306% higher lifetime value and will recommend the company at a rate of 71%, compared to the average of 45%
- Spend $699 with a company versus $275 spent by a “just satisfied” customer
- Are less price sensitive than other customers, with 64% of people saying customer experience is more important than price
Consistency Builds Customer Relations
Consistency is predominant in brand recognition, from logos, graphics, visuals, font, etc. But it’s essential in customer support as well. When a customer reaches out to your company, they should have a consistent experience, no matter who they reach and what channel they use.
This breeds a feeling of trust in customers, which facilitates relationship building. In fact, when asked what impacts trust with a company, customers ranked excellent customer service first. To maintain consistency, as with empathy, teams should spend the time and money into training for customer support teams.
In terms of consistency, agents need to have clear answers for customers. Your policies should be up to date, and easy for agents to locate. A knowledge base is a great way to make sure answers are available and up to date. Unfortunately, nearly half of consumers have gotten an incorrect customer service rep in the past. With proper training, this is easily avoidable.
Reduce Time and Miscommunications with Visuals
Value your customer’s time, and they will repay you with loyalty. A majority of customers think that valuing time is the most important thing companies can do to provide a good online customer experience.
In terms of customer support, time is often tied to how quickly customers can connect to an agent. The next step is resolving the issue without passing from one agent to another. And for first-call resolution rate, close the issue within the first customer interaction.
The strategic use of visual communication can reduce call time. It also avoids miscommunication, a huge time waster. And because people are drawn to images and videos, visual communication has a broad-ranging impact on consumers.
Some of the ways consumers are impacted by visuals:
- Engagement: Photos on Facebook generate 53% more likes than the average post
- Memorability: About 50% recollection of images versus only 10% of text
- Connection: Consistent branding across images builds branding recognition and relationships with customers
Visual communication increases engagement with customers, allows them to connect with your agents, and reduceblog/visual-storytelling-techniquess frustrating situations. Frustration can lead to churn. So avoid frustrating misinterpretations with images versus text, and cut down on typing time by sending screenshots or gifs.
Customers want to explain their issues accurately to customer service agents. In return, agents want to understand the problems so they can provide the right solutions. Instead of text, imagine both the customers and agents showing each other exactly what is happening, in real time.
People process images 60,000 times faster than they do text, and 93% of all communication is visual. So why use text when you can use visual strategies?
Zight (formerly CloudApp) is a great way to communicate with your customers to build relationships. Zight (formerly CloudApp)’s screen recorder brings screen capture, annotated screenshots, and GIF creation to the cloud in an easy-to-use app.
Quickly create visual content to help customer service teams:
- Create eye-catching visuals that help show what customers can do to resolve their problems
- Securely save your content in the Cloud and share with your team (perfect for recurring issues)
- Optimize chat times by using screenshots, GIFs, and videos to help customers resolve issues quickly
- Find your content with the Visual Search feature
Future-Forward Customer Relations
Social media is an important part of all business communication, including customer support. And it’s a huge opportunity going forward. Companies who serve customers across all channels retain 89% of customers compared to 33% companies who don’t.
Millenials—an important customer base—are on social media in huge numbers. And 74% of them report a better perception of a brand when the company responds to social media inquiries. Some other ways social media impacts customer service from a Microsoft survey:
- One in two millennials has complained about a brand on social media.
- 63% of millenials begin their customer service interactions online.
- Out of all cus
- tomer service engagements around the world in 2017, 52% began online.
A solid customer relations strategy must include social media going forward, including a plan for customer support. Often, marketing already has plans for proactive engagement, but what about your service team?
If your customers are on social media, then your service team should be there too. Look into training opportunities to make sure that you respond to all of your customer’s online inquiries. A reported 55% of customer requests for service on social media are not acknowledged. It’s up to your team to meet the challenge and hang out where your customers are to build relationships.
Sometimes as we go along our day to day tasks, we lose sight of what really makes life beautiful: our relationships. This is true in business, too, and if done authentically, can result in huge return on investment for your company. To do this in customer support, remember to focus on training, consistency, visual communication, and social media.
Learn more about how Zight (formerly CloudApp)’s video and visual communication tools can help your team build customer relationships faster.