Did you know that almost 80% of customers see customer experience as important as the product or the service itself? But what can you do to deliver the right CX to your customers? The answer lies within the term “Customer Support Funnel”.
Almost everyone who is somewhat familiar with sales, marketing, and human resources has come across the buzzword “Funnel”. But when it comes to customer support, the word is rarely mentioned. However, creating and establishing a solid customer support funnel is mostly what it takes for your business to improve its customer success, retention, and growth.
In this blog, we’ll explore what a customer support funnel, its importance, and how you can create & optimize the funnel for your business is. By doing this, you’ll be able to spot the areas where you’re losing consumers. Also, you’ll be able to figure out how to address their needs to create a successful customer connection more effectively.
What is customer support funnel?
Customer Support Funnel is a term and tool for businesses to address the journey of a customer starting from the onboarding to the advocacy stage. It is divided into four stages, which are,
- Post-sales support
These four stages solely focus on the post-sale relationship with customers. The stages that come before the ‘customer support funnel’ fall under the ‘marketing & sales funnel’.
In simple words, Customer Support Funnel is a system that assists businesses in monitoring customer onboarding and retention levels. Hence, the customer support funnel begins where the marketing and sales funnel leaves off, resulting in the creation of a complete customer experience hourglass.
It is a great advantage for any business to know its customers’ needs after customers have completed their purchasing journey. This helps a business execute the right plans for a better customer experience bringing forth great retention rates, and loyalty.
Now, let’s thoroughly examine these 4 stages of a customer support funnel.
4 key reasons why you need a customer support funnel
Being able to successfully create a customer support funnel is beneficial at so many levels. Here are 4 key perks of setting up an effective support funnel.
1. You can better retain your customers for a longer period of time
You might get surprised to know that according to a Forbes article, “it can cost a business 5 times more to attract a new customer than to retain an existing customer.”
And just like that most businesses end up spending a larger portion of their budget on acquiring new customers. They sometimes forget the value and overlook the needs & expectations of their existing/old customers.
Another research showed that “only a 5% increase in customer retention results in a profit increase of 25% to 95%, with 65% of a company’s purchases coming from returning customers.” So, if you can go that extra mile for your existing customer and give them a personalized experience, and resolve their specific issues through dedicated customer support, it’ll get you a lot in return, reduce churn rates, boost customer loyalty & satisfaction with less budget.
2. It will help you hold high-value customer interaction
Different customers have different ways of approaching a product or service. If you look at your customer journey map, you’ll see that your customers have different needs as they move up and down the various stages of the support funnel.
For example, you’ll see some of your customers might be looking for discounts or loyal reward points, while some others might need a video tutorial to get started with the product. So, it varies from consumer to consumer.
In this case, a customer support funnel regardless of your customers’ stage at which they are, can hold high-value & meaningful interactions. You can talk with your customer about current issues proactively instead of waiting for them to reach out to you.
3. You can easily boost your sales with upselling opportunities
For improving your sales upselling & cross-selling are two popular techniques. Both of the techniques follow different approaches. Cross-selling is simply suggesting additional or complementary products to the customer. On the other hand, Upselling is offering customers an upgraded or more expensive version of a product they are already considering purchasing.
But how can an effective customer support funnel create upselling opportunities?
It might sound a bit surprising but your customer support team can easily do it. Following the customer journey map, your support reps can easily understand when a customer is enjoying customer support or reaping benefits from your customer support. Right in that situation a support agent might inform the customer about the product/service/add-on/premium version that will provide even more value.
This strategy is usually used when a support agent is in the live chat or resolving a ticket. The agent looks into the shopping records and at the right moment recommends an add-on, complementary product, or service for a better experience.
Note: While upselling it is important to keep in mind, from a customer point-of-view, sometimes this might seem a bit pushy as it encourages a customer to spend more money than they originally intended.
4. It can better foster positive word-of-mouth
“38% of the customers who rates a company’s service as “good” are more likely to recommend that company.”
Excellent customer support can lead your customer to become the brand influencer for your product. And, there’s nothing better than being able to get free advertising from your customers without spending a single penny. Right? That’s where again an effective customer support funnel comes into play.
An effective customer support funnel helps you to deliver memorable support interactions which further leads to positive word-of-mouth. Your customer support agents will be ready with all the necessary information. And they will provide flawless experiences on your customers’ channel of choice, e.g. live chat, phone, social media, and even self-service.
The 4 stages of a customer support funnel & how to deal with them
The 4 stages of a customer support funnel cover a significant portion of a customer’s journey. Let’s have a look at them.
1. Customer onboarding
Did you know around 23% of customers can churn if they don’t get a delightful onboarding experience?
Poor onboarding is a leading cause of customer churn. 52% of all customer churns come from poor onboarding, engagement, and customer service. Therefore, right after a purchase, your customer needs to get a proper introduction to the product. This can easily set them up for success. So, in a customer support funnel, the first and most important stage is customer onboarding.
A good onboarding provides the opportunity for a one-time sale to become a life-long sale. In that case, providing an excellent onboarding experience is critical. It should be clear and obvious, and it should correspond to your customer’s expectations. You have to give your best shot here.
Here are a few examples of customer touchpoints during the onboarding process:
- Documentation and self-service assistance
- Personal contact
- Email, live chat, phone call
The specific elements of an onboarding program will vary depending on the company’s size, the nature of the product and pricing, and the type of customers. Finally, the goal of onboarding is to begin delivering on your promises to each customer.
Here are some pointers for successful onboarding:
- Include how-to video tutorials on your website or help center.
- Emphasize value by demonstrating how your product can solve customer problems.
- Inquire with your customers about what you can do to improve the onboarding experience.
- Create additional engaging content such as FAQs, help articles, and so on.
Note: Please keep in mind that if something goes wrong here, the entire customer journey may be jeopardized.
2. Post-sales customer support
According to Salesforce research, “89% of the customers are more likely to make another purchase after having a positive customer support/service experience.” Another stat by Salesforce shows that “If the company’s customer service is excellent, 78% of consumers will do business with them again after a mistake.”
After the onboarding process, customers enter into the post-sales period. It is the stage where a customer tries to fit your product into their workflows, utilizes best practices, and overall prepares a process to work with it. In this stage, the customer may come up with an issue or a query, and create a ticket for that through your customer support form.
So, to resolve their issues promptly and give customers a positive support experience, your support team should always be on their toes. Support agents need to provide the resources that customers need to be successful.
Also, they need to be easily accessible when customers need them. An excellent or even a positive support experience can lead to higher customer satisfaction rates, and raise customer loyalty.
As customers have different expectations with different channels. For example, customers expect instant replies over live chat, while they can easily wait 24 hours for an email response. That’s why you need to use them wisely and according to their expectations.
Some important communication channels or touchpoints of this stage include,
- Live chat
- Phone call
Be where your customers are!
Hear your customers wherever they need you.
3. Customer retention
If the first two stages of a customer support funnel go smoothly, your customers will likely buy from you again. This is why the third stage is called retention.
In the retention stage, you need to proactively engage with your customers. It needs to continue educating your customers about product updates, complimentary products, trends, best practices, etc. in every way possible. The objective here is to retain most of the customers for as long as possible. This brings up repeat purchases and raises in your sales.
You’ll be surprised to know that according to research from Harvard Business School, “increasing customer retention rates by just 5% can grow a company’s profits by 25-95%”
The following are the touch points during the retention phase:
- Documentation and self-service assistance
- Monitoring and assistance through social media
- User communities
- Periodic success reviews
- Channel partners/integrations
Here are some strategies for increasing customer retention:
- Inform customers about new offers, discounts, and so on.
- Engage customers on social media platforms with relevant content.
- Create customer loyalty programs to reward your most loyal customers.
- By becoming your customer’s trusted advisor, you can strengthen your relationship.
The final stage of the customer support funnel is advocacy. This is the point at which customers become brand advocates. Even if only a few customers make it to this stage, they will help you promote your brand to their friends and family.
In simple words, in the advocacy stage, a customer loves your product so much that they happily recommend it to people. They become your loyal marketers for free. So, you must connect your current customers with prospects to encourage advocacy.
Some common touchpoints in the advocacy stage are,
- Social media
- Community forum
- User Conference
Through these touchpoints, you can connect your customers so that they can support each other and share the best practices.
Here are a few tips for making your customers your brand advocates,
- You might kindly request that your clients post their reviews on social media, your company website, product review websites, etc.
- You can use online forums to connect with customers to attract new clients and prove the worth of your product.
- Set up an online community forum where your audience can discuss business trends, share ideas and experiences, and things like that.
Customer satisfaction is crucial to business success. And the key to keeping your customers happy lies in a well-designed customer support funnel strategy. By understanding your customer’s needs at each stage of their journey, you can easily provide tailored support and generate positive word of mouth.
But it’s not just about providing excellent service. Also, it is about tracking your progress and continuously improving your approach. By measuring customer support metrics (e.g. CES, NPS, Churn Rate, CSAT, etc) and making necessary adjustments, you can prevent losing valuable customers.
With the help of great communication tools, it’s now much easier than ever to establish a seamless communication channel with your customers. And by using this channel to understand the pulse of your clients, you can sharpen your marketing strategy and drive revenue growth.
So, if you want to delight your audience and take your business to the next level, invest in a customer support funnel strategy today. Because happy customers are loyal customers!
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