Whenever I run a webinar on how to drive ROI from customer experience, I get an unusually high number of registrants. This leads me to believe that while there are more customer experience (cx) roles than ever before, customer experience itself is not seen as an ROI generator. But thinking about customer experience as an ROI generator matters! If CX is yet another sunk cost, you won’t get the resources you need to deliver a truly great experience to your customers.
While customer experience is many things, any company that’s serious about customer experience (and thereby generating ROI) will focus on two areas: collecting accurate, actionable customer feedback and delivering great customer service. Here I’ll focus on how to get ROI on customer service, and I’ll save how to get ROI on other aspects of CX, for future posts. My examples will span a range of industries, from retail to elective surgery, because customer service can work as a conversion tool for almost every company.
Customer Service—It’s Your Conversion Machine
Let me start with a blanket (but true) statement: Whenever chat, email or phone-based customer service generates ROI for an organization, it’s invariably because customer service is being actively staged and strategized as a conversion vehicle. Every aspect has been carefully considered: what the customer service associate says, when they say it, and how they say it. And for chat-based customer service, when the chat box appears, and for whom, is also a deliberate feature.
It’s critical to note that even though great customer service can (and should!) drive conversion, you should NOT think of customer service as a sales team. After all, the customer is calling or chatting to get information or advice. Responding to questions with a sales spiel is a quick way to turn customers off. Using customer service to drive conversion is not about using overt sales techniques, but rather providing proactive information and showing the next step as a natural progression in a clear and compelling way.
Making customer service your conversion machine comes down to mastering the four dimensions common to all customer service:
What follows are a few tips and tricks about how to use each of the four dimensions as a conversion tool.
Timing: These are the pacing aspects of customer service—how long is the transaction, how long is the wait in line. To convert you need to show that you value the customers time.
- Set expectations and meet them: when you say “hold for just a minute,” take just a minute, not five. Not only is this good customer service but, in terms of conversion it’s critical. While the customer might very well take the next step even if they have to wait on hold or in line—if you disregard their time, it will violate their trust, and for conversion, trust is essential.
Connection: These are the listening and empathy aspects of customer service. To convert, associates need to show clear engagement because if you don’t care why should your prospect?
- Reference the customer and their situation specifically. For example, if the customer needs recommendations for a dress, and mentions it’s for a wedding, weave this into your response: “The X dress and the Y dress would be two great options for a low-key, Saturday afternoon wedding…”
- Use the customer’s name; it signals that they’re uniquely important.
Information: Of course, timing and connection mean nothing if you’re providing bogus or confusing answers to customers’ questions. For customers to take a next step, they need answers that are clear, accurate, and proactive.
- Validate with social proof. Explain to an equivocating shopper that “in the product reviews, customers rave about the ergonomics and versatility of this particular lawn mower.”
- Always include a call to action. An easy next step is by far one of the most important aspects of conversion. For example, in chat and email interactions, provide links to the products referenced. That way, if you’ve been persuasive enough in your interaction, it’s simple for the customer to click and buy.
Differentiation: Customers shop around, so you’ve got to actively demonstrate that your company is special or outstanding. Prove to the customer that they’ve come to the right place.
- Cite facts and statistics that show your company is the expert. For example, “For five years in a row, we’ve been rated the best home insurance agency in Florida,” or “Our sunglasses go through a 30-point quality assurance checklist—they’re tested to survive the worst of your mountain bike wipe-outs.”
- Provide an extra tip or trick “And know that if you leave your sunglasses on your dashboard, the lenses are likely to overheat and delaminate.”
- Share your unbeatable warranty policy or product guarantee: “In the rare event that you get a defective item, or you don’t think you look stellar in that dress, just return it. We want our customers to be thrilled with their purchases from us; that’s why we offer a 60 day guarantee.”
You can’t manage what you don’t measure—including conversion. But knowing your conversion rate alone will only show you how you’re doing generally, not what needs to be improved upon specifically. If you want to improve your conversion rate, you’ll need to measure the communication elements that drive your conversion rate and you’ll need to share your Persuasion Score with executive and front-line teams regularly.