Customer loyalty is critical to the bottom line of any business, especially those with a direct-to-consumer business model, which are built on their customer relationships. The interactions your buyers have with customer service have a major impact on their loyalty to your brand.
These are the 7 essential ingredients of customer service that wins long-term customer loyalty.
Your shoppers want to be able to contact you using the most convenient channel for them, and still get the same (good) service and brand personality through every channel for a consistent omnichannel experience. This should include:
To keep track of the communication with each customer, it’s good to take notes and add tags in your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software to ensure customer service agents always have access to the latest updates. For example, it’s useful to have tags like “serial returner” or “orders to try sizes”.
A generous refunds policy is an investment in customer loyalty. The cost of a refund or subscription cancellation almost never exceeds the cost of acquiring a new customer. Additionally, customers are likely to share their experience with friends if your business handles a refund request easily. 75% of customers buy based on a friend’s review.
Read more: How to get word-of-mouth referrals
If a customer wants a refund, this doesn’t mean they will never come back. They may be testing a few products to choose the right one, or they might not be able to afford your service at the moment.
In these situations, refusing a refund makes the customer experience unnecessarily unpleasant. This could cost you a loyal customer. Not to mention that in many parts of the world it’s illegal to deny refunds to customers. Conversely, a generous policy that assures customers they won’t lose money if something goes wrong will increase your repeat purchase rate.
For example, Fetch Eyewear offers lifetime warranty on frames so customers don’t need to worry about buying expensive eyewear that gets broken.
Also, customers are more likely to try niche products if you can reassure them they can change their mind without losing money.
Customer refunds are an ideal time to ask for feedback to improve your service or product and learn how you could have saved that customer. Always ask for feedback after processing the refund however. Asking for feedback first may make customers feel they need to justify their refund instead of giving honest answers.
Shipping costs can be a nasty surprise for first-time customers, and a poor delivery experience can negatively impact customer loyalty. Free shipping can increase purchases by 50%.
Dollar Shave Club offers a low-cost starter package with free shipping, lowering the barrier to entry by reducing the customer’s risk:
Additionally, provide clear time estimates and use reliable couriers to ensure your orders arrive on time. Late deliveries can be a real inconvenience for customers who have arranged to be at home for the delivery, or for customers waiting for a monthly subscription to arrive. It might sound too good to be true, but people might really need your products as soon as possible: to put on tonight for a party or to cook it tomorrow.
Offering a range of delivery options and times can increase customer loyalty. It makes buying more convenient and less disruptive – just an easy part of life. Work with couriers who provide a delivery tracking service so you can keep customers informed about their the estimated time of delivery via SMS order updates. They will be thankful they get to plan around it.
When a customer contacts you with a problem, their top need is to get it fixed as quickly as possible. 42% of customers expect a response within 1 hour. Not surprisingly, they would show more loyalty to a business that meets that goal.
One of the best ways to do this is by focusing on resolving issues the first time a customer contacts you. Customers don’t want to be passed from agent to agent, or wait for a manager to provide authorization.
Instead, empower customer service agents with the tools and training to resolve common issues.
Also, trust their judgement. If your customer service reps have to advocate for customer rights, customer experience will suffer and you will be losing time and money in unnecessary escalations.
The metrics you use to measure customer service performance have a huge impact on employee behavior. Tracking the right metrics results in effective issue resolution and satisfied customers.
There is no doubt that your overall response times are an important factor, but make sure your policies don’t discourage thorough and effective service:
Customer service can be a draining job. Your employee morale has a major impact on customer loyalty. Employers with a Glassdoor rating of at least 4 stars score an average of 80 on the American Customer Satisfaction Index.
A big part of ensuring happy customer service workers is your customer service policy:
Not only are happy customer service workers more effective at their jobs, they give customers a more positive experience with your company. Even cranky customers are likely to feel more positively about your business after interacting with an enthusiastic employee. Measuring the wrong things and not giving enough power to actually help customers can backfire like it did for Away.
When your business is working as intended, most of your buyers don’t interact with customer service at all. They buy their products, the order arrives and they enjoy it without a problem. Тhe majority of your shoppers might never experience how great your customer service is!
Because of this, you need to advertise your post-purchase experience.
As a result, even people who have never had an issue when shopping would be sure they’d get a good customer service if they need it.
To sum up
Customers prefer to buy from businesses that show care and appreciation. Make contacting you easy and resolving issues – possible on the first touch. Your brand identity should back the customer service you provide and enhanced by it.
Metrilo’s mission is to help you build your ecommerce brand and win your place in the customer’s heart. We share what we learn from our daily work with product innovators and founders here. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the freshest lessons and conquer your niche.