Increasing customer loyalty is challenging – but it’s an essential part of running a business. These days, customers have more choices than ever, especially when it comes to online businesses. We all know that if customers receive poor customer service they are very willing to look elsewhere, but what are proactive steps you can take to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty?
One proven technique for increasing customer loyalty is providing low-friction, high-satisfaction, real-time opportunities for customers to engage with your business. And you can do this by implementing digital communication tools like live chat and chat bots on your site. With these tools you can engage your existing and potential customers, generate a high percentage of repeat purchases, and enhance the customer experience around the products and services you offer.
In this article you will learn the basic principles for building customer satisfaction and loyalty, and how chat bots can help you build on each of those principles.
Let’s get started!
An Artificial Conversational Entity (ACE), or a chat bot, refers to an assistant that automates online conversations with site visitors. It can handle customer service conversations relating to recommendations, complaints, explanations, and more. These assistants respond to customer queries with a fraction of the usual cost or time taken by a customer service representative.
Using a software platform with a plugin or app, you can quickly add a chat bot program to your existing website without having to do any significant coding yourself.
Chat bots fall into two categories: simple and smart. These categories are often also referred to as “menu-based” and “AI-based” chat bots.
Simple, menu-based chat bots understand specific keywords and can give relevant answers. They often display a visual navigation menu, showing visitors the options from which they can select. These chat bots don’t have all the skills needed to handle more complicated tasks or questions, but they’re good for basic interactions.
AI-based chat bots can give relevant answers to more complicated questions. They can be programmed to handle a wide variety of customer inputs, and can use machine learning and natural language processing to compare inputs to their database of possible responses. AI-based chat bots can also grow more powerful over time via training.
AI-based chat bots are a great option for increasing customer satisfaction because they offer a friendly and personal experience along with more efficient support.
Research shows that one third of customers will leave a business they love after just one bad experience, while over 90% will leave after two or three negative interactions. Therefore, promoting a satisfying customer service experience should be mandatory if you want to build customer loyalty and keep customers coming back. And one way to make your customer service more satisfying is to make it “seamless” – removing unnecessary obstacles from the paths your customers have to follow to get the help they need.
Make sure that customers can quickly access your support staff, and that your agents can solve customer problems within the shortest time possible. Prioritize answering customers quickly, no matter where those questions come from, as research suggests that 42% of potential customers sending complaints on social media expect to receive answers within one hour, while 32% of potential customers expect to receive answers within thirty minutes.
Chat bots make it easy for customers to start interacting with customer service because they can be available on every page of your site, often right at the time and place where the customer is encountering issues. Menu-based chat bots can display self-service options for customers to browse, while AI-based bots can start natural conversations with customers to offer intelligent assistance.
While chat bots aren’t as “human” as regular live chat agents, they have the advantage of being infinitely polite and attentive. Well-designed chat bots are customer-oriented, providing useful answers to questions when possible and quickly connecting to human customer service agents for more help when they can’t solve a problem. In this way, chat bots smooth over the “seams” in customer service interactions, guiding customers to solutions in a friendly way.
By implementing a chat bot, you will also be able to improve operational efficiency and increase customer satisfaction with the customer service process. Live chat agents aren’t always immediately available, but a polite chat bot offers a much better experience for a customer than waiting on hold.
As described before, customers will leave your business if they receive unfriendly or unhelpful service. But with chat bots, you get an easy, automated way to make sure every customer is being treated properly, even when human help isn’t immediately available. And these virtual assistants will reduce wait times, freeing up your human agents up to devote personal attention to the customers who need it most.
The more you are able to create a sense of community with your customers, the more loyal and enthusiastic they are going to be about your company. Be welcoming right from the start in your customer interactions, and provide opportunities for customers to sign up to hear more via company newsletters or product update emails.
Social media sites are some of the best places to engage customers. Research shows that a company can increase customer spending between 20 to 40 percent if they engage with those customers via social media. You can use social media platforms to share your brand’s latest developments and promotions along with relevant news and opinion pieces related to your industry. And don’t forget to ask your followers for their thoughts! By making everything feel like a conversation, you will be well-positioned to increase customer engagement and loyalty.
You should also look for ways to empower your existing customers to support and market your brand. Identify and engage with fans on social media, seek out and promote testimonials, and consider affiliate programs. Getting customers involved with your business in ways like these will go a long way towards turning their loyalty into advocacy.
You can use on-site chat bots to promote your social media accounts to increase engagement on those critical platforms. Have your bots inform site visitors of opportunities to join in on the conversation around your business, and consider giving back to your customer community with incentives like social media-driven sweepstakes and giveaways.
But customer engagement doesn’t need to stay just on social media. Chat bots on your site can also provide interactive customer engagement opportunities while offering a sense of humor and personality, depending on how they are programmed. Remember, you’ll teach your AI-based chat bot how you want it to speak – so you can include things like slang and emojis when appropriate, and decide how “casual” you want your bots to be based on the company image you want to portray.
Chat bots can also turn mundane functions of your website into actions that feel more interactive and engaging. For example, a traditional customer service FAQ or knowledge base can be overwhelming for customers, since it presents them with far more information than they actually need. But a chat bot can run interactions based on the specific information the user needs, every time. Specific questions will be given specific answers, with nothing extra to get in the way. The customer is rewarded for their engagement with a smoother and more satisfying interaction.
One way to help make your customers happy is to focus on their personal needs. Developing personal relationships with customers will result in greater satisfaction and loyalty.
According to Monetate, 79 percent of surveyed companies that have managed to exceed revenue goals featured a documented personalized customer relationship strategy. With personalization, you can increase loyalty, increase revenue, and drive higher conversions.
Customer based marketing strategies place individual customer needs and concerns at the forefront, rather than trying to push a specific product or service, and customers appreciate that. But for many companies and industries, personalizing at the individual level can be a challenge. That’s why some marketers have focused on creating segmentation strategies instead of real personalized experiences. That can be a valid approach, but keep in mind that the broader your customer categories are, the less “personal” each interaction will feel.
Focus on delivering the type of content individual customers are looking for. For example, some customers will be interested in deep tutorials about your products, while others will care more about higher-level industry news. Every time you provide customers with content that matches their preferences, you’re deepening their loyalty to your brand. Conversely, every time you send them something that they aren’t interested in, you risk driving them away.
Using chat bots can be a key element of your business’s content marketing strategy. Chat bots can promote white papers, blog posts, knowledge base entries, and other valuable content to site visitors based specifically on their interests, potentially even relying on existing CRM data about those visitors. As an illustration of how this can work, imagine an electronics retailer who knows that a customer has recently purchased a PlayStation 5. When that customer returns to the site, the retailer can have a chat bot ready to automatically recommend accessories for that console, or articles about the highest-rated PS5 games, all based on past purchase data in the company’s CRM.
By delivering automatically personalized messaging and content, chat bots allow businesses to generate and nurture more leads via on-site chat platforms without feeling like spam. A message that is specifically tailored to your interests is a lot less likely to feel like an intrusive ad, after all.
Chat bots offer several benefits to both businesses and potential customers. They play a pivotal role in marketing content customized for a specific audience. With their combination of automated efficiency and personal attention, chat bots are great for nurturing customer relationships.
Increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty should be a top priority for every business. Consider implementing the techniques discussed in this article if you want to see your business grow. Live chat agents working alongside chat bots can help provide seamless customer service, entertaining engagement opportunities, and personal content delivery on your site – and when you put all that together, you have a recipe for happy customers and repeat business.
About the author
Rithesh Raghavan is the Director at Acodez, a Digital Agency in India, and the co-founder of Acowebs, an online store for eCommerce plugins. With a rich experience of 15+ years in Digital Marketing, Rithesh loves to write up his thoughts on the latest trends and developments in the world of IT and software development.