How to maximise customer lifetime value
How can Sales, Marketing and Customer Service collaborate to maximise customer lifetime value?
Despite the famous phrase “the customer is always right”, too many businesses let customers down when they need support the most. According to research, during the pandemic one in three businesses admitted that in doing so they had badly harmed loyal customer relationships. If businesses want to continue doing business with customers when they are in a good position to spend, they need to show that they are worthy of custom during periods of distress as well.
This issue calls for businesses to radically re-evaluate how they calculate customer success and align Customer Service goals with Sales and Marketing efforts to ensure that customer loyalty is rewarded. With the right technology in place, brands can combine knowledge across the entire organisation to better support customers, build lasting relationships that will benefit them when times are good and radically reduce the profit-syphoning effects of customer churn.
AI and RPA
To connect all customer-facing communications, departments need to be connected too. It’s important not to confuse customers when it comes to recommendations. With artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation (RPA), businesses can ensure that teams are on the same page and that customers know they are getting the best recommendation available.
Applied to internal data management systems, RPA can ensure that relevant information is always available to any customer-facing agent who needs it, no matter when, how or with which department the interaction took place. As such, this technology bridges the information gaps between departmental siloes and provides visible context that connects the full journey. With a complete record, customer facing employees see the customer as a real person, rather than an account number, for hyper-relevant recommendations and the most successful sale.
Where Customer Service has had frequent contact with a customer regarding an issue with the service they are being provided, aligned Marketing and Sales teams should be able to benefit from this information so that they can use relevant feedback to offer more suitable recommendations. This information can even be used as an opportunity to turn a complaint into an opportunity to upsell. When customers feel like their preferences have been heard, they will have no reason to seek an alternative.
Customer centric design
The best way to keep loyal customers is to keep them happy in the first place. This isn’t always as simple as providing the basic product or service that they ask for. By collaborating with other departments to design customer experiences around the individual, Marketing, Sales and Customer Service teams can alleviate pain points and prevent the result of a dissatisfied customer.
Using customer data to offer the most suitable products is a useful way for businesses to boost sales. But data can also be used determine how best to offer those products or services, which channel the customer prefers and what time is most convenient for them. Creating the customer journey that slots right into the individual’s life will help businesses demonstrate that they are working for the customer, not just for their sales quota.
Low code software has empowered the citizen developer with programmes that allow employees to create high-functioning, purpose-built apps that they can tailor to their customers’ needs. By circumnavigating communication with IT to get the app up and running, the process is faster, more cost-effective and allows design to be executed by the people who know their customers best. Using this strategy, Sales, Marketing and Customer Service departments can easily collaborate on creating an app that fulfils all of their criteria and addresses the pain points that cause resentment.
Like never before, from the start of the pandemic businesses have been faced with responding quickly, effectively and compassionately to customers’ needs, and in greater numbers than usual. While AI and RPA offer a solution for handling large volumes of customer requests with rapid responses, making sure that customers are being treated fairly on a one-to-one basis should not be any less important.
Empathetic measures can be integrated right into the AI decisioning that processes customer requests at scale. Using the customer context available, teams can update accounts according to recent activity and adjust the level of empathy the AI system will use on a sliding scale. For instance, in the case of bereavement, Customer Service may be notified, which should trigger teams in Marketing and Sales to adjust to the frequency of contact to that person and suggest measures such as discounts or appropriate downgrades or upgrades.
With technologies like natural language processing (NLP) customer interactions can be analysed for urgency in real-time to inform teams on when a human employee is needed. Taking this a step further, by tracking specific words, businesses can identify which employee would be needed, whether it’s Customer Support, or Sales, or, in an unlikely scenario, a direct audience with the CEO. Not only does this help the customer resolve their issue faster and reduce any frustrations they might have, but it’s also good for internal efficiency.
Embracing a strategy that champions customer lifetime value is not just about making more sales, it’s about knowing when not to make a sale, what methods of communication will alienate a customer and which cultivate a relationship with longevity.
Keeping track of customers’ needs with one-to-one customer engagement at scale can be a challenge, but failure to act appropriately will alienate customers who may then be lost for good. With departments aligned, teams can approach customers as a whole entity that is ready to demonstrate a commitment to treating their customers fairly. Since what is good for the customer in the long term is actually better for profits in the long term, customers need to be looked after in their time of need to benefit from their period of business opportunity. With the recession looming, now is not the time for businesses to risk damaging their profit margins through negligent customer service.