When creating a brand strategy, most of the focus is placed on the first half of the customer journey — moving from potential client to first-time customer.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent attracting, convincing, and converting consumers into customers. But for many brands, this also means less emphasis is placed on the second half of said journey — growing and maintaining the customer relationship.
While it’s always great to acquire new customers, it’s an incredibly expensive endeavor — often with a high CAC. You’re paying out the nose for search ads, social ads, and more — all with the hope of converting new users. Plus, since you have to spend precious time convincing them why your brand is worth their business, it’s a more labor-intensive process.
Now, we’re not saying that you should neglect the first half of your customer journey — what we’re saying is that you should give the second half of said journey more attention than it’s currently getting. Essentially, the vital role that Customer Service/Success teams play needs to be recognized.
By nurturing and maintaining strong relationships with your customers, they are doing their part to bring in revenue for your business. And since you don’t have to spend as much time and money convincing current customers to make purchases, it’s a more cost-effective way to earn revenue.
Therefore, this article will start by exploring both halves of the typical customer journey, and then move on to discussing why a strong Customer Service team is vital. Finally, we’ll provide a few ways your Customer Service team can contribute to overall brand success.
The First Half of The Customer Journey
When it comes to the first half of a typical customer journey, there are a few important steps you need to take before you can really call someone your “customer”.
Let’s break it down.
Step 1: Awareness
First, you need to make consumers aware of your brand. After all, you can’t convert someone who doesn’t know you exist.
Whether they see your ad on a billboard or hear your brand name mentioned on a podcast, the first step is always getting consumers’ attention. This is why increasing brand awareness is such a high priority for brand managers.
Step 2: Consideration
Once a consumer is aware of your brand, they enter the “Consideration Stage”. It’s now your job to get them to engage with a content touchpoint — be it your website or social media profile — so they can learn more about your products and/or services.
As they learn about your brand, they should become more and more convinced that you’re the best option on the market. Whether it’s via social ads, online reviews, or email campaigns, consumers need to increase their consideration for your brand if they’re going to make it to the next stage.
Keep in mind — in this day and age, most industries are highly oversaturated and the competition for consumers’ business and loyalty is cut-throat. Therefore, through high-quality content and personalized interactions, it’s your job as a brand manager to make sure consumers are thoroughly convinced you’re the best option around.
Step 3: Purchase
The final stage in the first half of a typical customer journey is for them to make their first purchase, officially becoming a “customer”.
Be it in your brick-and-mortar store, your online shop, or via a sales team member, when a consumer makes their first purchase and is converted into a customer, you’ve crossed a very important threshold.
However, for some brands, the hard work ends there. Marketing has converted the user into a customer and, now, the job is done.
But, in many ways, post-purchase is where the really hard and important work begins — now it’s your job to consistently impress customers with your brand’s offered value, customer experience, brand image, and so much more.
And while this responsibility falls to a combination of teams, Customer Service is at the forefront. Think about it — Who deals with daily complaints and issues to maintain the buy-in of important customers? Who keeps their finger on the pulse of customer satisfaction? Who maintains the brand’s Knowledge Base and Community?
Customer Service plays a huge role in a brand’s success, yet their contributions are often overlooked. So, let’s take a look at the second half of a typical customer’s journey to see how Customer Service can improve brand success.
The Second Half of The Customer Journey
Just because a consumer has been converted into a customer doesn’t mean they can now be neglected. A one-time purchase does not a loyal customer make!
In actuality, customers need to be consistently nurtured. With so much competition lurking around, you can’t be lax when it comes to maintaining the happiness and satisfaction of your customer base.
Step 4: Retention
Therefore, the next stage in a customer journey is that of retention — aka keeping customers around to make more purchases.
For some brands, this is expressed through nurturing email campaigns or Loyalty Programs run by Customer Retention Management (CRM) teams. While not directly part of a typical Customer Service team, they often work hand-in-hand to nurture customer relationships.
From newsletter campaigns to blog articles, there are many ways the brands can prove value to customers in the hopes of retaining them. Another great way to provide value to customers is through an online community. Having your Customer Service team set up and run an online forum where customers can ask questions, share experiences, and provide advice is a wonderful way to increase retention.
However, to make it to the next stage of the customer journey, you need to ensure customers are blown away by their experiences.
Step 5: Advocacy
While it’s amazing to have a loyal, retained customer, it’s another thing altogether to have a brand advocate.
Loyal customers who become brand advocates essentially provide you with free advertising. Whether it’s through social media comments, online reviews, or word-of-mouth recommendations, customers who advocate for your brand are the holy grail of brand success.
But how do you get customers to enter this stage? By providing a superior brand experience from start to finish — great value, helpful customer service chats, a fantastic loyalty program. All this and more is what convinces customers to become advocates.
How Customer Service Can Contribute to Brand Success
As we touched on in the last two points, Customer Service plays an important role in the latter half of the customer journey — retention and advocacy.
So, in an effort to illustrate a few examples of just how helpful Customer Service teams can be, let’s look at a few ways they contribute to brand success.
1. Strengthen Relationships With Top Clientele
No matter your industry or market, there will always be customers who are more valuable than others. Big spenders, enthusiastic advocates — no matter their role, they require extra attention.
And who better to provide them with the time and attention they need than your Customer Service team? Whether it’s sending personalized emails to touch base or asking them to contribute expert advice to your brand community, Customer Service agents have the unique ability to foster strong, close relationships with clients.
For example, say your company sells high-end, imported wine. One of your top clients is the Manager of a chain of luxury hotels. As she makes the final call on all large purchases for food & drink, she’s someone you want to keep happy.
Therefore, your Customer Service team makes a routine effort to check in with her — Is she pleased with the quality of your wine? Are your deliveries on time? Does she have any suggestions for you?
By making her feel valued and letting her know her opinion is important, you’re more likely to maintain a positive, lucrative relationship. Remember, the happier she is with your service, the more likely she is to become a brand advocate.
2. Identify Issues/Roadblocks In the Customer Journey
While you might think your ads are performing well or that your social media presence is on-point, not every consumer agrees.
As the face of your brand and the people who speak directly with customers, your Customer Service team is in a unique position to identify potential issues or roadblocks in your customer journey.
You can’t control the way consumers perceive your brand — they’re going to make assumptions and associations based on social media presence, ads, content, and more. What you can control is how your Customer Service team represents your brand.
Did you know that 73% of customers say they remain loyal to brands because of friendly customer service representatives? The way your Customer Service team represents your brand is vital, and a friendly atmosphere makes customers more willing to provide helpful feedback.
Whether it’s the tone of voice in your ads or the visuals on your website, there may be aspects of your brand that customers take issue with. Through friendly conversations, your Customer Service agents can identify such issues and help your Marketing team improve the first half of the customer journey.
3. Save Money With Customer Retention
Did you know that repeat customers are 67% more likely to spend more with your brand? Or that an increase in customer retention of only 5% can lead to a 25% increase in profits?
While many view investing in customer retention as a method of “starving acquisition”, HubSpot points out that it actually “creates more breathing room for your business tomorrow”. They go on to say:
“Rather than being forced to play catch-up because unhappy customers are churning, you can create an entirely new, much less expensive acquisition channel — your happy customers. This also has the added benefit of driving the average CAC down.”
And what are they referencing when they say happy customers can serve as a new acquisition channel? Brand advocacy. By turning your happy customers into brand advocates, you are indeed opening up a new acquisition channel.
What happens when happy customers talk to their friends, family, and colleagues about your brand? They bring in new customers that you didn’t have to directly pay for. This, in turn, drives the overall CAC down.
Therefore, recognizing the importance of and investing money in Customer Service will provide many benefits in the long run — from a decreased churn rate to a lower CAC.
While there will always be pressure to increase customer acquisition, don’t forget to siphon the necessary time, energy, and resources into customer retention and supporting your Customer Service team.
Customer Service plays an important role in a brand’s overall success, and you’d be remiss not to take note of it.
If you’re interested in taking it a step further and learning more about how your Customer Service team can be on board and aligned with branding, check out our infographic: “Branding For Customer Service Team”.