Let’s be honest for a second. Historically, the nature of contact centers has been heavily volume-based: place as many outbound sales calls as possible; field as many customer support requests as you can each day; call all the inbound leads that came in from marketing yesterday.

While it’s important for agents to make as many contacts as possible each day, what gets lost in the fast-paced world of contact centers is personalization and customer relationships.

Focusing on the customer experience has been a rising trend for contact centers over the past few years. Contact centers are investing heavily into ensuring customers have the best experience with every brand interaction by offering new communication channels like chat support, video calls, and providing self-service options for faster support.

According to data from Forrester, 72% of businesses say improving customer experience is their top priority. A big part of building a great customer experience is transitioning away from transactional interactions with leads and customers, and moving towards building authentic relationships. If you need a little more convincing, here’s why customer relationships are key for contact centers in 2018 and beyond.

You Can Resolve Issues Faster

Both consumers and call center agents are familiar with this scenario: a customer calls with an issue related to another issue they called about two weeks ago. In order to resolve the problem, they have to spend 10-15 minutes explaining their previous issue to each new rep they talk to.

That’s not a great customer experience. Customers want quick responses to their problems — preferably within an hour of sending an email.

When your contact center is focused on relationship building, you stop looking at each individual call as a separate instance and keep detailed records of each contact. That way, instead of reaching out to Call #490493, your reps are talking to Jamie who’s been a customer for two years and recently upgraded her account with you. Your reps can use their records to be able to quickly diagnose the issue and resolve the problem without long wait times or frustration.

It Takes Price Out of the Equation

Every agent working at a contact center has had the sales conversation that seems to be going pretty well — until you get to pricing.

“It’s too expensive.”

“We need to spend our budget elsewhere.”

“I can’t justify this expense to the C-suite”

One of the best ways to overcome these pricing objections without trying to come up with ten rebuttals for each one is to prioritize building strong customer relationships. Research from Gartner showed that 64% of people feel the customer experience is more important than price when making a purchase. If your contact center can provide a personalized customer experience and focus on building customer relationships, the price will become less of an issue.

You’ll Sell More

A lot of importance gets put on sourcing and selling to new leads. There’s a strong chance you’re missing out on a potential goldmine — your existing customers — if your contact center spends all its time on new leads. What if instead of dedicating 100 percent of your agents’ time to cold-calling new prospects, they allocated a portion of it to servicing your existing customers?

Well, according to the data, it’ll make your reps’ lives much easier because an existing happy customer is up to fourteen times more likely to buy from you than a new prospect.

Probability of selling to existing vs new customer

The reason behind this is simple: existing customers are already familiar with your brand, and hopefully, you’ve established a relationship with them after the purchase through email marketing, re-targeted ads, or other channels. For more info on how to retain your customers, check out our infographic on 20 data-backed customer retention strategies.

By the time one of your reps contacts them about an upsell, upgrade or new product, a lot of the “warming up” has already been done, so it’s a much smoother process. If your contact center can generate more revenue — with fewer resources — by selling to existing customers, why have them spend their entire day reaching out to cold prospects?

You’ll Reduce Customer Churn

You might notice a recurring theme so far in this article: Going on the offense rather than defense with your current customers can result in big financial gains, increased customer loyalty and stronger long-term relationships.

In fact, 11% of customer churn could be avoided by simply reaching out to your customers.

So often, contact centers receive calls from customers that nobody from your company has ever spoken to, and they’re ready to close their account. These are people who don’t always necessarily hate your product or company, but it’s an “out of sight, out of mind” situation.

They may have just slowly phased your products out of their life and forgotten about it, or they may have had several issues recently that went unresolved. The end result is usually a lost customer and a higher churn rate.

Don’t wait until customers call you with issues. Put your contact center on the offense by scheduling calls to let customers know about new deals, product releases, and anything else that’ll keep you on their mind. The first contact between your call center and a customer shouldn’t be when they’re calling you to cancel their account.

What Can Contact Centers Do to Build Better Customer Relationships?

Now that you have an understanding of why customer relationships are so important, here are a few quick tips contact center reps can use to create a better experience for customers:

  • Use the person’s name: This tip is so simple, yet easy to forget. Throughout the conversation, make sure you refer to the person by their name to build familiarity and a level of comfort. You’ll be surprised at how much of a difference it makes.
  • Thank them for being a customer: If you’re on a call with an existing customer, make sure you thank them either at the beginning or end of the phone conversation for their loyalty. It’s a tactic companies like USAA and Amazon use to show their appreciation for long-time customers. And feeling under-appreciated is the number one reason customers switch to a competitor.
  • Keep detailed contact records: You should have detailed records of every interaction a lead, prospect, or customer has had with your company down to the products they purchased — even important dates like birthdays and anniversaries, if possible. Using a CRM like Copper is an easy way to track all of this without a ton of manual data entry.

Above all, treat every interaction with your contact center as if it’s the most important call of the day. When you can provide a positive experience every time someone gets in touch with your company, you’ll build customer relationships that last for years to come.

 

About the author:

Dominique Jackson is a marketer for Copper, a leading CRM software company that helps teams build stronger relationships with their customers. When he’s not spreading the word about Copper, he’s helping marketing and sales teams better understand how to connect to their audience through content marketing.