All customers are important, but you’ve got to admit some are a little more valuable than others.
Following Pareto’s 80–20 rule, 80% of sales actually come from 20% of existing (loyal) customers. This 20% of customers (a. k. a MVPs) are big spenders and responsible for a significant proportion of sales. They are crucial to your business prosperity. While there are a couple of ways to appreciate your big spenders, one proven method for retaining high-value customers is to deliver exceptional customer service.
Statistics from the White House Office of Consumer Affairs states that 80% of customers will pay more for a better experience. And 60% of consumers say they have stopped doing business with a brand due to a poor customer service experience.
Today’s customers are better informed, better connected and more demanding than ever before. Consequently, you have to treat them right if you plan on getting their loyalty and staying in business. To deliver mind blowing customer service to VIP customers, here are some tips to supercharge your customer service.
#1 Don’t Make Them Wait
High-value customers don’t like to be kept waiting. According to a study by Live Person, 82% of customers say the one factor of great customer service is having their issues resolved quickly.
Long wait times affect not only customer satisfaction, but also how much customers are willing to spend.
Help VIP customers skip the queue by setting up a dedicated line for them or routing calls from specific phone numbers via an automatic call distributor (ACD) to specific agents or departments. These lines should be available 24\7 and answered by only your best agents in the shortest time.
Emails can also help reduce wait times. Simply set up a priority inbox to automatically put VIP emails at the top of the inbox. When agents scan their emails, they can see the important messages first and respond quickly. For high-value customers who don’t mind being self-sufficient, create self-service channels for them. Your self-service channels must provide accurate, relevant, and complete answers to questions instantly, without the need to speak to a service representative.
#2 Personalize Interactions
Whether engaging customers in-store, on the phone or on a live chat session, personalizing your customer service sets you apart and establishes that your attentive business cares not only about profit, but also about the level of satisfaction customers receive. To give VIP customers a personalized customer service experience, ensure frontline employees address customers by their name when communicating with them. This simple act shows respect and friendliness and prompts customers to continue their business with you.
For instance, Cathay Paciﬁc Flight attendants memorize the names of passengers in premium cabins in order to say good-bye by name as ﬂiers deplane.
Use data from your customer relationship management system to find out personal information about your customers. This will give you a head start in offering products and services that might appeal to them and provide frontline staff with information they can use in engaging customers.
Frontline employees must be mindful of being overly familiar or intrusive. Every interaction should be directed towards satisfying your customers and not frighten them with the amount of information you have about them. If you can afford it, assign a dedicated consultant to guide high-value customers through their interactions with you.
#3 Hire Great Employees
Leading customer service companies know that hiring frontline employees with the right attitude is key to delivering exceptional customer service.
It’s not a coincidence that frontline employees at companies like Apple and Disney deliver exceptional service. They are actually hired for being naturally enthusiastic and exceptional.
How do you spot a good hire? Customer service expert and consultant Micah Solomon suggests using the WETCO approach when recruiting frontline staff. When hiring lookout for individuals with the following customer-centric traits:
- Warmth: Simple human kindness
- Empathy: The ability to sense what another person is feeling.
- Teamwork: An inclination to work towards rather than do it alone
- Conscientiousness: Detail orientation including an ability and willingness to follow through to completion
- Optimistic explanatory style: The ability to bounce back and not internalize challenges (Employees who can’t shake off a thrashing from a customer won’t last long.)
You can find out if potential employees have these traits during your training period. To discover if new employees have the right attitude, online shoe giant Zappos offers new hires $1000 to quit. A hire that takes that offer clearly doesn’t show dedication or passion required to work with Zappos. Hire the right people to take care of your high-value customers and reap the reward in excellent customer service delivery.
#4 Engage Frontline Employees
Your frontline employees are responsible for providing a memorable experience to customers and their actions determine whether a customer becomes an advocate or a detractor. That’s why you need to keep frontline employees engaged and satisfied. Statistics state that companies with engaged employees see significantly greater customer loyalty and a 26% greater annual increase in revenue. To build frontline-employee commitment to superior customer experience focus on the following:
- Clearly define your vision and let frontline employees know the ROI associated with the customer experience so they can understand the impact their work has on your company’s success.
- Listen to employees and seek to tackle their problems and needs.
- Assign autonomy and responsibility as a way to stimulate innovative thinking. Nordstrom is famous for encouraging employees to use good judgment in all situations.
- Empower employees to make decisions and fix problems. Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company encourages employees to spend up to $2,000 per guest to solve an issue or improve a guest’s stay.
- Give frontline employees regular updates on personal performance to make them feel valued.
When frontline employees are engaged, they’ll be genuinely happy to serve customers. And when customers have a positive experience with frontline employees they are likely to buy from you repeatedly and rave about their experience to their friends, families and network.
#5 Ask For Your VIP’s Feedback
MVPs have opinions and advice about your customer service and they’d love to share them with you. All you have to do is ask for it. Getting feedback from customers is an easy way to remove the guesswork of figuring how to satisfy them. A few things to note when collecting feedback from high-value customers:
- Use communication channels your customers prefer: voice text mobile or web to can capture insights on how to improve your customer service.
- When picking survey questions focus on things that are important to your customers.
- Try to keep questions your survey questions short. At least 5 questions and maximum 10.
- Act on feedback received and notify customers when action has been taken based on their suggestions. This will position you as a customer-centric business, improve customer service and strengthen customer loyalty.
- If you’re up for it set up a Voice of Customer program to solicit feedback across multiple touch points and also gather unsolicited feedback on social media.
Customer feedback provides actionable insight into how to serve your customers better, measure customer satisfaction and improve customer retention. Don’t ignore it.
Treating your high-value customers as royalty through exceptional customer service is the best way to retain them and drive profitable growth for your company. What are you waiting for? Up your customer service game with personalized interactions, reduced wait times, awesome and engaged frontline employees, and acting on customer feedback. You’ll not only get engaged customers, but you’ll also stand out from the crowd.