There was a time when customer service in America simply meant you have to stand inside your store all day, greet the customer when they come in, and give them what they need if it’s on your shelves, and take their payment. But technology has revolutionized and transformed the sales process and customer experience in ways that have never been imagined before. More companies are beginning to realize the need to streamline their customer outreach strategy to adapt to the changing times.
One such technology that can streamline your processes is a virtual phone system, such as the software from Call Cowboy. These call management systems can increase the productivity and efficiency of your teams. They can also amplify your customer outreach campaigns.
Here are other ways by which you can streamline your customer outreach strategy for more growth:
1. Know Your Customer Well
The heart of any outreach strategy should be the customer. This isn’t just about being nice and friendly to the prospects, although that’s an indispensable part of it.
A lot of enterprises, both large and small, fail to understand the distinction between these two orientations. The heart of your business isn’t just about you being friendly to the customer. The heart of your business is catering to their needs. To know your customer is to know their main pain point and help them solve it effectively.
This is so much different than just being nice and friendly to your customers or clients. You can be accommodating to your customers, but if you don’t deliver what they need, you wouldn’t be considered helpful to them.
To give an awesome customer experience to consumers, you should know your customer really well. Try to put yourself in their shoes. There’s certainly nothing like the feeling of being understood by the businesses you patronize or the shops you frequent. Maybe you’ve felt this when you were asked by the coffee shop crew where you stop by every morning whether you’d like your usual black coffee for the day and the garlic bread to go with it.
It’s the same with every business. You give your customers a feeling that they’re important, that they are valued not just because of the money they give for your products or services, but because you and your people treasure the opportunity to serve their needs.
2. Equip Your Contact Center with Dial Technology
If you’re a contact center, you can make use of a Power Dialer. This would put essential information about every customer in front of your agents in an instant and allow them to add a personal touch to each call.
This would be almost next to impossible to accomplish if you’re already a very large enterprise with tens or even hundreds of thousands of customers. But you can still make use of technology and tools to help you crunch data and knowledge of your customers, so your people will know ‘who they’re dealing with at any moment’s notice.
To be able to do this, you have to maintain an up-to-date database of your customers’ information, interactions, and transactions. This will help your team avoid wasting your customers’ time.
Many customers are put off when they’re asked redundant or irrelevant questions. That would be a giveaway that either you really don’t know your customers that well, or your agents weren’t trained well enough to ask sensible questions. Either way, it won’t reflect well on your company.
3. Select The Appropriate Channel
One of the most important aspects of streamlining your customer outreach strategy is your choice of a communication channel. Selecting the most appropriate communication channel is crucial to the success of your outreach strategy. This means you know where your target audience spends most of their time, how to reach them, and what channel is most effective to grab their attention and make them listen.
For example, if your company is in Business-to-Business (B2B), social media marketing may not necessarily be the most suitable customer outreach strategy. Business surveys show that email is considered by B2B customers as one of their top three sources of information. You won’t be able to make use of the other two because they are: colleague recommendations and the opinions and insights of industry thought leaders.
It’s true that cold calling has a very low conversion rate. Marketers estimate that cold calling has a conversion rate of only 2% at most. But cold emailing has been shown to be an extremely efficient channel. Cold emailing gives you the marketing power to reach thousands of prospects simultaneously. Marketers estimate that cold emailing generates around USD$38 in revenues for every dollar you spend on it.
4. Segment Your Audience, Create Personas
While it’s true that cold emailing does work quite efficiently, sending out the same, impersonal messages to people of all ages and walks of life simply doesn’t work anymore. You have to be able to show your target audience not only that you understand them but that you somehow know their preferences and interests.
To be able to do this, you have to streamline your customer strategy by sorting your target audience into segments. From each segment, you should create a persona who somehow embodies or represents that segment. You can do this by studying and reviewing the data analytics reports on your customer profiles or marketing surveys. This will enable you to send out tailored and personalized messages.
You can start segmenting your target audience by looking at demographic data. You can group your target audience into various segments based on income level, job title, locations, gender, homeownership, age, education, among others.
Different industries would have different uses of segments. For instance, if you’re selling books and eBooks, knowing the education level and jobs of your target audience would be important. Meanwhile, for B2B companies, job titles and senior management roles would be more important than gender or age.
5. Automate Your Emails, Use Catchy Subject Lines
Another aspect of your customer outreach strategy that you can streamline is your email campaign. You should use software applications that would automate your email sorting, personalization, and distribution process. Aside from sending out the mechanism, though, you should also use catchy email subject lines. Remember that this is the first thing that your email recipients will see.
When your target recipients see your email in their inbox, the first thing that they’ll ever see is the name of the sender and the subject line. If your subject lines or titles are interesting or catchy enough, they might just click your email and take a look at it. If it’s your lucky day, they might even read it and scroll all the way down; otherwise, they might create a rule to send your email to spam.
6. Empower Them with A Self-Service Knowledgebase
It’s true that hearing the warm voice of another human on the other end of the phone is somewhat reassuring to the typical customer. It gives them the sense that their service provider has made it a point to make sure that there’s someone they can ask for help whenever they have questions or concerns. Giving them that feeling and sense of security that there’s someone who’s there to give them personal service is surely a core part of enhancing their customer experience.
But, despite the flurry of digital marketing campaigns, a lot of American customers would still rather do their business on their own with the least amount of intervention or interaction with anyone, least of all someone from a company. As a matter of fact, a research study has found out that 90% of customers want the businesses that they deal with to provide a self-service option in their customer service portal.
While you might find it surprising, it’s actually consistent with the human longing to keep their personal concerns private. They know your company is bound by confidentiality to keep their concerns and information private. But it’s that step of having to convey such personal concerns and information to a total stranger over the phone that somehow makes them averse to customer service interaction.
The other reason is that many, if not most, consumers have had really bad experiences with customer service agents in the past, not necessarily from your company. Some of them may have gone through frustrating long calls, which ended up being cut, requiring them to go through the long, winding process of explaining the whole thing all over again.
But some of them have also gone through the frustrating experience of having to deal with automated computer voice calls that tell them to push one button after another. Sometimes, the options they needed weren’t among those parroted by the recorded voice, so they had to go the nearest route, only to find out that their concern isn’t supported by the route of buttons they pressed. The bottom line is that they’ve had a bad experience with live agents, and they’ve probably also had frustrating waiting times with automated or pre-recorded voices.
The crucial part that will differentiate you from their frustrations is if you can provide clear channels of information and services that are responsive to their needs. Your website should have the standard ‘Contact Us page. It should also have a Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQ) and Knowledge Base, so your customers can search for answers to their questions. It’s important that you give them a mode to send you feedback when their specific questions aren’t dealt with by your logic tree of stock answers.
7. Consider Customer Suggestions and Requests
The digital revolution and the global pandemic together are changing consumer behavior in so many ways, involving so many dimensions and at so many levels, all at the same time. With digitization, customers are more connected now. With more and more companies having their own digital portals and platforms and everybody trying to sell online, customers have become more accustomed to excellent customer service.
The effect of the digitization process is that their expectations about customer service are also rapidly changed by the development of new technology that supports and shapes their consumption behavior. For instance, with the introduction of on-demand or as-a-service business models, consumers have been made aware that there are ways to access and use products and services based on their needs and not based solely on what companies want to offer. A concrete example of this is that consumers now know that they can watch online films thru bundled fees.
When one or several companies offer this kind of subscription, on-demand, or as-a-service subscription package for one line of products or services, it’s not farfetched for customers to look for the same or similar kinds of product offers from various other companies. They might expect the same of most other products and services that they avail. Another recent trend is that most companies are now offering to accept online payments, and soon cryptocurrency payments.
You have to keep an open mind and be flexible to these kinds of changes and developments. Doing so would signal to your customer base, as well as to your potential customers, that you’re open to embracing any changes that would help you meet customer needs, demands, and requirements. For payments, this would also establish your business as a company that looks after providing convenience to its customers thru a frictionless, seamless, and mobile buying experience.
For small businesses, though, this can be a challenge with their limited time and staff resources. But with a little creativity, it’s possible to exploit tools and technology to build up your own customer outreach strategy that would make your company larger than life. You can actually make use of technology to become more responsive to your customer’s needs, even if you’re a small business. With a focused and sensible customer outreach program, you might even seem to have better customer service than most large corporations.
8. Make Use of Social Media
A final point that you have to take note of in your customer outreach strategy is the use of social media. With billions of people now having their own various and multiple social media accounts, social media has become an indispensable channel of customer outreach.
Social media platforms and apps are excellent tools for expanding your reach and increasing market awareness about you. But you still have to follow through with email because it’s proven to be 40 times more effective at prompting customers to push through with their purchase.
The power of social media could bring you to the depths of having intimate knowledge of your customer base, as well as those of potential customers. With the use of analytics and digital advertising, you can actually learn more about your target audience. If you can plan your social media outreach strategy well and execute it to achieve your goals, you can connect with your customers on a more personal level.
Global But Personal
The growing pervasiveness and ascendancy of online platforms and social media marketing have enabled companies to pursue the two seemingly contradictory and opposite goals of going global in their advertising and marketing strategy yet still have the warmth of personal touch. This has only been made possible by the various online and digital marketing tools and applications. But the core of any sensible customer outreach strategy remains the same: it should be about meeting the needs, demands, and requirements of the customer.