Companies cannot afford to ignore customer retention. Research shows that a 5% increase in customer retention rates can raise profits by 25% to 95%, so it’s an area of intense focus for many businesses.
Holding onto your existing customers is where the goals of customer service, sales and marketing overlap and where support has the most significant responsibility in driving retention. However, many support folks aren’t aware of the strong connection between the quality of customer support and customer loyalty.
Support-Driven Growth positions customer service as a revenue driver, rather than merely a means of providing help. Occasionally blurring the lines between customer service, marketing, and sales, there are three key activities customer service professionals can perform to boost retention and loyalty.
1. Leverage Support-Driven Growth
As your support team talks to your customers on a daily basis, you are in a unique position to drive retention. With almost every interaction, you can implement the “Yes, and…” principle to help drive further product adoption and engagement. This will make your customers want to stay around. In most companies, there are three particular occasions when agents can naturally do this:
- Related features: After you have solved the customer’s issue, ask if they have tried out other similar functions in your product. For example, once you have finished helping a user to set up email integration, you could say, “By the way, did you know that we have an integration with Slack, too?” Your users will be grateful to get useful tips that will enhance their experience.
- Promote new features: Agents are usually the first to know about the latest feature releases, and you can easily promote those in your interactions. You can drop major updates into your conversations even if they are not directly linked to the issue at hand. For example, after having helped the customer change their privacy permissions, mention that you have just released a new statistics view on the dashboard and offer to give a quick tour on it.
- Premium features: You can explain paid features to the users you know would benefit the most. Customer service agents are in an excellent position to identify those users. For example, if a customer is constantly struggling with exporting data, introduce the automatic syncing options that come with the next pricing plan.
These real-life situations, when the user already feels the need for premium features, are the best opportunities for upselling products.
These are the interactions that agents can easily have to build customer retention. If you look at your conversations from this perspective, you could be upselling the product every day. There is enormous potential in these interactions.
However, you don’t always have to wait for the customers to come to you.
2. Be proactive in customer interactions
With automated emails, you can jump into customer conversations proactively, without waiting for them to approach you first. Contacting your customers at the right time will do wonders for your company’s retention rates.
If you reach out to your users when they have finished a critical activity that is likely to raise questions — such as enabling a new integration — you will wow your customers by offering help before they’ve even asked.
Here’s your part as a support pro:
- Map the areas of the product your users are struggling with the most. These are the possible churning points that you should look out for. For example, use tags to categorize your support tickets. See which issues are spiking and prioritize those in your communication.
- Provide insight into what content an outreach email should include. Think of what you would say to a customer who was struggling with a particular task, and write up a general answer that could be proactively sent to relevant customers.
- Follow up on the responses you received to email campaigns. Make sure that customers can reply to these messages and that these end up in the support inbox. This way, you can quickly help them with further questions and understand what they are most interested in.
Though marketing teams are usually responsible for setting up automated emails, the content of these will often be support-related. That is why customer service should be actively involved with these notifications.
Following the methods described above, you can make sure users keep using new features and find value in the higher product tiers through conversations that were, in fact, initiated by you.
This is a model we’ve used at Klaus. For example, we noticed that some of our users didn’t complete the account activation flow. So we added automated emails and in-app tooltips with options for a quick call or a proper demo, to help them through any obstacles they’ve run into. Doing this, we managed to improve retention for the 25% of customers who (on average) have become stuck in the process.
3. Use conversation reviews to identify opportunities for customer retention
Mastering the techniques that drive user retention takes time. The quickest way to get there is through feedback.
Though it might seem frightening at first, receiving comments on your work is the most efficient means for professional growth. By doing systematic conversation reviews — i.e., letting someone read and assess your customer interactions — you will learn how to make the most out of Support-Driven Growth.
Tools like Klaus allow you to rate conversations based on the categories your team has defined, like product knowledge, tone of voice, and solution. If you are focusing on customer retention, you should ask the following questions:
- Did the agent provide proper means of further product adoption?
- Did the agent succeed in providing proactive help?
These two questions will help you analyze how well you have implemented the methods of Support-Driven Growth in your interactions. By including these in your regular feedback, your team will get used to implementing them on a daily basis.
Other agents are familiar with the situations that you encounter every day and can be your best mentors in assessing whether you used all the opportunities for further product adoption and proactive help.
Growing from here
Support should not focus solely on answering customers’ questions and solving their problems. It should also aim to provide additional value for your customers and grow customer loyalty through product engagement.
Implementing Support-Driven Growth techniques is a skill that comes with time. If you are keen on growing professionally, ask for feedback from your peers or managers. Use them as your resources in routine conversation reviews to get advice on how to increase customer loyalty, and develop your expertise beyond regular customer service.