In this webinar, we discussed the fundamental role customer support plays in customer retention, product strategy and revenue in subscription and repeat business organisations.
Our expert panellists from Gousto and Butternut Box talked about ways they centre their product strategies around the customer, how they surprise and delight customers to promote loyalty, and the enormous role their customer support data plays in understanding the true, unbiased voice of the customer in different teams.
Gousto and Butternut Box are both successful subscription businesses in the UK, with Gousto providing delicious meal kits for dinners and Butternut Box providing nutritious, yummy dog food. Both businesses use SentiSum to analyse their support conversations and feedback channels, unlocking a central dashboard every department can access to discover real time customer sentiment and insights.Why are we talking about subscription businesses?
In subscription businesses, as well as businesses with frequent return customers, each customer doesn’t only equate to one single sale - they are responsible for ongoing MRR.
While retention and repeat sales is an important metric in all businesses, in subscription businesses it is especially vital as lost customers equal lost ongoing revenue.
Subscription customers receiving regular products and services also have more touch-points with a business, meaning more opportunities to build relationships and loyalty but also more opportunities for things to go wrong.
Watch the full webinar recording, or read the highlights below to discover how you can make the most of data and promote customer centricity to retain customers and boost market share.How do Gousto use data?
Gousto are very data driven and have described themselves as “A tech company that loves food”. They structure their business in “Tribes”, with each tribe focusing on specific core responsibilities relating to their customers’ needs.
Within each tribe is a number of technical squads, analysts, data scientists, and product designers. Gousto’s Customer Solutions team are also closely embedded into each tribe, focusing on analysing customer contacts through the SentiSum dashboard, monitoring changes of sentiment over time and nurturing a feedback loop to the rest of the business.
“As a team, we use this data to help inform day to day design decisions within our digital product, identify completely new proposition changes like scaling our menu, and to make sure that all of our customers have all the choice that they could ever need. Keeping the customer both at the core of our data and our business means that we never go off track from our vision, which is to become the UK's most loved way to eat dinner.” - Gousto
But where do you find this data?
Data exists, in its most raw, unbiased and detailed form, in your everyday customer support conversations. This is where your customers are contacting you at the very moment an issue is causing them problems, and speaking in an unfiltered way.
By analysing these conversations through an AI tool, you can find out what sentiment is being provoked by certain issues, track real-time responses to product changes, and quantify qualitative feedback.
There are, of course, other ways to track feedback, such as CSAT and NPS surveys, but you should never rely on these sources alone to gather a truly holistic view of your customer voice, as these offer quite general overviews and are skewed by the questions you ask and the timing of your surveys.Surprising and delighting customers to promote loyalty
At Butternut Box, the customer support team is called the Customer Love team, which just goes to show the customer centricity and care they have for their customers and their pets.
Butternut Box have a somewhat unique customer consideration - in that their paying customers (the humans) are different to their product consumers (the dogs) - and both need to be taken care of in different ways.
This is where empathy plays a huge role for both customer facing and non-customer facing teams.
“It helps that a lot of our team are dog owners, so they can relate to customer issues such as fussy eater problems or dog illnesses. It’s tough having conversations where a pooch has perhaps passed away, it’s heartbreaking news and everyone deals with grief differently, so there has to be a lot of empathy in that conversation.” - Butternut Box
Surprising and delighting customers is extremely important to Butternut Box, and therefore enabling team members to look for ways to delight customers is always encouraged.
This might mean sending flowers when a dog passes away, a blanket if a dog is sick, or more obscure surprises, like the time they sent a plush pigeon toy to a dog whose name was Pigeon.
Surprise and delight doesn’t have to always cost money. For example, if a customer mentions a big event coming up, a team member might leave themselves a reminder in their calendar to send them best wishes on the day.
These are simple, small acts of kindness that make the customer feel special.
Gousto also promote loyalty by ensuring they are always providing choice, flexibility and the odd surprise to support their customers throughout different periods of their life.
This could mean ensuring a customer on a health kick has plenty of meal choices to support their goals or sending a bar of Tony’s Chocolonely to a customer who needs some cheering up.Enabling support teams to surprise customers
Surprise and delight is a great idea, but how do you promote this in action?
Both Gousto and Butternut Box agree that the key to truly caring for customers is in supporting, enabling and encouraging your teams to “think outside the box” and run with ideas.
Allow your team members to take an extra few minutes finding a plush pigeon toy, to do impromptu check-ins with customers they’ve built relationships with, and to celebrate these gestures and customer reactions with the rest of the business through internal slack channels.
“You need to strike a balance and give the team the tools that they need to do the nice things. It’s also important to work on operational efficiencies. As you scale, naturally you become busier, so it may be that you need to specifically allocate time to dedicate to surprise and delight.” - Butternut Box
Optimising your tools to enable self-serve where you can, implementing clever systems like auto-triage and fixing root cause issues through analysis should naturally lead to reduced ticket volumes, meaning your team can invest proper time into relationship building, while maintaining top tier service in the support tickets they do get; further promoting the customer-first experience that will keep your customers coming back.The results of being customer-centric and data led
Being customer centric and data led essentially means to put the customer at the heart of everything you do within your organisation, and harnessing quality insights to back up your strategies.
This is something Gousto do exceptionally well:
“Being customer centric and data led has enabled us to develop our amazing proposition, meaning that we're number one in the market for choice and the UK's best value recipe box. Within customer care, the sheer amount of data and value to be gained from each conversation has led to the department being seen as a value generator rather than a cost centre, breaking that typical representation of customer contact centres. This has really enabled us to invest both in people and product, as we know the link between great customer care and long-term retention is super strong.
We're gonna be continuing to inject the customer voice in a data led fashion into strategic and proposition decision making conversations so we can carry on focusing on actively driving customer satisfaction which, in turn, leads to retention over time.” - GoustoKey takeaways
Following on from the fantastic examples and insights given by Gousto and Butternut Box in this webinar, here are their key takeaways on how other businesses can can harness their customer support teams and customer insights to boost revenue and retention:
“The key to really retaining your customers in a subscription business is continuously obsessing over the customer and their needs, and that's why we personally find it so beneficial to zoom in on current pain points that the customers are experiencing right now to help drive a balance of short term wins and longer term strategic decision making.
It's also important to remember that customer needs change and they change very quickly, especially in the current landscape that we're working in, so understanding customer needs isn’t just a one off exercise, it's a constant process. Making sure that you have that right team and the right people to focus on these processes is really key to unlocking those longer term retention goals.
I'd also say don't be afraid to think outside the box, (quite literally at Gousto and Butternut Box), focusing on testing, being data centric and gathering learnings when things maybe don't go quite as well, and thinking about iteration to improve the customer experience rather than big bang approaches.” - Gousto
“I would say to sum up, it's about building personable relationships with our customers and ensuring that every decision you make is customer centric. The minute you don't put the customer’s needs first, you lose trust. It's important to listen to customer feedback, have processes in place to implement changes on the back of it and close the circle, and of course, to keep the team in mind.
We always say, happy team, happy customer.” - Butternut Box
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