The Keys to Keeping (and Even Gaining) Customers During an Economic Downturn

Lisa Boles March 27, 2023

The Cassandras (remember your Greek mythology?) of Wall Street (pundits) have been warning of a recession for many months now. The headlines seem to confirm these fears with stories of large layoffs in many industries. According to Bloomberg News, economists say there is 70% chance that the U.S. will see a recession sometime in 2023.

Have you been looking at what you need to do to “recession-proof” your business? One obvious answer is taking whatever steps are necessary to keep the customers you already have—while, of course, continuing to vie for new ones in an increasingly competitive landscape.

Certainly, one of the best ways to do that is make each customer interaction­—whether it’s a call into your contact center, a text exchange with either an agent or chatbot, or an in-person interaction—a great customer experience.

A Happy Customer Is a Loyal Customer

Good customer service is key to customer loyalty. As the old saying goes: “A happy customer tells a friend; an unhappy customer tells the world.” Not convinced?

  • 93% of customers are likely to make repeat purchases with companies who offer excellent customer service. (HubSpot Research)
  • Increasing customer retention rates by just 5% can increase profits by more than 25%. (Bain and Company)
  • Embracing data-driven solutions, empowering a hybrid workforce, and breaking down silos by sharing analytics and insights are how organizations can provide exceptional experiences. (Verint Engagement Capacity Gap Study 2023)

So, what are some practical steps you can take to help ensure your customers are delighted with each and every interaction?

Provide Agents with the Guidance They Need—When They Need It

Do your agents have quick and easy access to information they need to guide them through customer interactions when questions arise?  Do you have real-time insight into what’s actually going on during a call so that guidance can be provided when needed?

Traditionally, supervisors have only been able to provide feedback on just a small sample of interactions several days after they occurred. Customers don’t want to wait for good service and quick resolution to their problems. So, quickly getting agents the information they need to successfully handle each interaction is key to customer satisfaction.

Information Anywhere

Gone are the days when all agents worked full-time in call centers. With many agents still working remotely, supervisors can no longer be present to jump in when an agent needs assistance to resolve a customer issue. You want to have a solution that provides both the monitoring and assistance your agents need, so you can:

  • Present relevant knowledge without searching
  • Proactively guide agents through compliant workflows
  • Reduce handle time, and improve first contact resolution

All regardless of where (and in which time zone) you and your agents are located.

Coach Your Agents So They Can Be the Best They Can Be

As a manager, are you able to quickly identify areas where your agents are struggling to meet your targeted KPIs? What tools do you have in place so that you can provide in the moment coaching that is immediately actionable across all channels?

This type of real-time coaching can have a significant impact on improving the quality of interactions by giving agents the assistance they need to drive positive outcomes.

You want to make sure you have a solution that can identify negative sentiment or process issues so that you can provide your agents with advice on behavioral changes—while improving their experience with in-the-moment guidance during difficult interactions.

It’s Still a Numbers Game

There’s no doubt that analytics drive improvement. Are you able to get the fast and accurate data that can identify agents who are struggling so that you can intervene and ameliorate the situation? Use automated sentiment analysis to identify significant trends that are impacting customer experience and proactively identify coaching opportunities—improving CSAT and NPS.

And, you can even use this data to go beyond identifying agent performance issues and knowledge/training gaps—you can use it to identify cross-sell/up-sell opportunities to further grow customer engagement and satisfaction.

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