“Loyalty is incredibly important in retaining your customers and making sure your bottom line stays healthy.”
Buffer, an app for social media management, turns customer loyalty into a unique selling point. In fact, they prefer to email their customers directly rather than to direct them to a knowledge base or forum, so that they’re continually gathering feedback from customers.
And it results in public praise like this:
Loyalty is incredibly important in retaining your customers and making sure your bottom line stays healthy. It costs way more to acquire new customers (six times more!) versus keeping an existing customer. That’s why your current customers are your best friends. Customer loyalty is also particularly important for SaaS companies intent on increasing Customer Lifetime Value and reducing churn.
Live chat helps customers and support to connect more with each other in real-time. Not only does it help you increase leads, but it also helps you build loyalty with the customers you already have.
Customer loyalty is all about real, meaningful emotions and a genuine feeling of commitment. Positive emotions arise between people when they have good experiences—not between people and machines. But technology enables you to facilitate those connections while defying time and space.
We’ll dive right into the top five ways that technology—specifically, live chat—helps you build customer loyalty.
1. Offer support right where it’s needed
Not only is retaining your customers just good business sense, but selling to an existing customer is 14 times more likely than selling to a new one. Those are good odds! As customer service expert Bill Quiseng says, “Work as hard to keep a customer as you do to find a new one.”
To improve your chances of selling to a happy customer, offer customer support right where it’s needed—on your website. For e-commerce companies, SaaS companies, and startups, your website is the number one point of customer contact.
When your customer is on your site and experiencing a problem, offering a direct line to one of your agents through live chat eliminates the need to context-switch. You can even set up logic rules to set up friendly and human automatic messages to go out to any customers who make inquiries when your team is offline.
Demonstrate that you are invested in helping your customers and going the extra mile by installing live chat on your site for whenever customers have a problem.
2. Head off small issues before they become big problems
“Brands today should focus on ensuring that the experience is simple and pleasurable. It can’t always be pleasurable, but it can always be simple,” says Mark Taylor, senior VP of digital CX at Capgemini. By simplifying the customer experience with live chat, you can proactively handle small issues before they balloon into a crisis that has customers running to your competitors.
According to NN Group, users view clicks as currency—which result in adding up to an interaction cost. You don’t want your users to view interacting with your company’s website as “high cost“. Instead, you want your users to complete a process with your company in as few clicks as possible, to maximize the (perceived) value they get from your product.
But even with the most well-designed user experience, customers are only human and will run into problems. Customers may not feel it necessary to construct an email to your team over a small issue, but they just might drop you a quick message in live chat.
This has huge results for customer loyalty since 67% of customers cite having a bad experience as their reason for leaving a business.
Don’t alienate your customers by failing to invest in the customer experience, and unnecessarily allowing small issues to become huge problems that impact their lives.
3. Empower support agents to build relationships
Your support agents are the ones on the front lines building these relationships with your customers, and live chat empowers your people to connect with customers in a more personal way.
Instant messaging offers a way more powerful and direct connection than sending an email or posting on social media. It’s the way you would communicate with a friend or family member. Your team will still have to work hard since 37% of customers say it takes 5 or more purchases for them to view themselves as loyal—which parallels the way that relationships develop in real life. But the results will be worth it.
Live chat helps you keep pace with what customers now expect as their new normal. “Consumers’ expectations have been changed by the companies that lead with experiences,” says Mark Taylor. It’s becoming accepted wisdom that businesses need to become more human and personal in their dealings with customers, let alone more available.
Paradoxically, that can be accomplished with live chat through facilitating conversations that build relationships. Recognize the need that we all have to feel important and valued in our interactions, and start chatting with your customers.
4. Differentiate your business with outstanding customer service
97% of customers rate customer service as a very important factor in their loyalty to a brand. And yet in the past, businesses have fallen into the trap of viewing customer service as a cost center rather than an opportunity for growth.
Building customer-centric businesses is the key part of growth strategy for hugely successful companies. You count yourself among the likes of Buffer, Help Scout and Hubspot when you worship your customers.
Anyone can copy your product, but can they deliver customer service in exactly the way you can? Live chat helps you differentiate your business by enabling you to provide proactive customer support that marks your company out as different—in a good way.
Being proactive can go a long way in showing customers you care, too. Don’t just passively wait for incoming support tickets through email or phone, but monitor events that tell you when a customer is having trouble. For example, as an e-commerce company, you can install live chat on your payment page. Or, make it the default to contact your customers whenever they encounter an error page.
5. Apply the principle of reciprocity
You scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours. Humans are hardwired to respond in a reciprocal way to anyone who does something for them. It’s a powerful social norm where one positive action is rewarded in kind with another.
Gregory Ciotti, formerly of Help Scout, highlights how reciprocity is the number one factor in building customer loyalty. “Winning customers over starts with winning their thanks on individual terms,” says Gregory.
Live chat is a way that you can reach out first to customers before they even have a problem, prompting them to soon return the favor – hopefully by doing even more business with you.
This is just one way that using the principles of social psychology to build loyalty is possible through live chat. You can also personalize the customer experience more by tailoring your service to their specific circumstances at that exact moment: meet them where they are.
If you have the customer in your database already, you can access support history about them, and blow them away with your insights.
Time to take it away
Building customer loyalty means investing more time and effort into each customer interaction so that customers know you really care. Live chat is a way that you can invest sustainably in your customer service, so support agents are able to comfortably handle larger volumes of interactions.
In saturated markets, where your competitors are just a click or a free trial away, loyalty is key for sustainable growth – and for earning raving customers who will recommend you to their friends.
Talk to your customers like you would your friends with live chat, and watch small interactions grow into meaningful, loyal relationships.