COVID-19 has altered the world in profound ways, shifting behaviors inside and outside the home personally and professionally. Between business closures, job losses, and changes in spending habits, the pandemic has wreaked havoc on marketing teams, sales funnels, and customer acquisition strategies.
Because of the events of 2020, many companies have been forced to reassess their customer acquisition methods to stay afloat and win customers’ hearts. Customer priorities have changed, challenging businesses to rethink acquisition tactics and retention strategies. According to market research, two-thirds (68%) of respondents to an Arizent survey of 450 executives said their companies experienced moderate to considerable challenges in customer acquisitions due to the impact of COVID-19.
The impacts to new user acquisition were seen across customer bases and many areas of marketing and sales, including paid marketing, ad spend required for targeting customers, and digital and content marketing to name just a few.
Despite the sales funnel upheaval, many businesses and contact centers have found new acquisition techniques. Part of winning new customers over the last year can be attributed to adapting customer acquisition and retention strategies to conform to the new normal. Placing a higher premium on interactions with loyal customers by offering rewards for customer referrals is one such example.
And now, as 2020 tries to make a Q4 comeback with the COVID vaccine, businesses face a new hurdle: how to adapt to a new, possibly more hybrid, phase of in-person and online working and living?
As contact centers sent their employees to work from home, businesses pivoted from a largely in-person workforce to employees scattered remotely, all still responsible for maintaining the health of their customers, both loyal and potential. If the technology solutions weren’t already in place pre-pandemic, businesses are now scrambling to find ways to fill their customer acquisition funnel and set themselves up to not only stay relevant but also succeed during and post-COVID-19.
So what to do in this limbo period? How will customer acquisition strategies need to change, if at all? What does the customer acquisition process look like in the new normal? Read on to find out.
Support for contact center agents at home
With newly remote agents it’s critical to provide them with all of the tools and information they need to answer questions and dazzle customers in a timely fashion. This means the more technology the better. Things like a knowledge base for frequently asked customer questions and Iive chat enhance first resolution rates because they make problem-solving less arduous.
Winning new customers is easiest when interactions are simplified. Providing stellar customer service is an acquisition method that will stand the test of time, even through a global pandemic. Great customer service isn’t possible when agents aren’t properly equipped for their jobs. So first things first, tool your agents appropriately. This is, in fact, part of the customer acquisition strategy. Customers don’t want to do business with people who make it difficult.
This is pandemic customer acquisition rule number one: Quick, fast, easy, and personal service on any digital channel breeds positive word of mouth referrals, builds brand awareness, and strengthens customer loyalty.
To offer this round the clock can be difficult. To complement live agents, contact centers can consider virtual agents and other self-service technology, like conversational IVR. Introducing these features to your customers helps to decrease wait times and free up agents to handle priority escalations. These channels also help to triage the increased calls and requests into contact centers.
Calculating customer acquisition costs
Customer acquisition cost also referred to as CAC, is the amount of money it takes to attract potential customers.
Calculating customer acquisition costs can be done by dividing all the sales and marketing costs associated with acquiring a new customer within a certain timeframe.
To find your customer acquisition cost (CAC), divide all sales and marketing costs by the number of customers acquired over a given time period. Your customer acquisition cost is an important growth metric to keep in mind because it helps determine profitability and efficiency. That’s not the full equation, though. Once you have your CAC calculated, you’ll want to factor in customer lifetime value, or CLV, for each customer acquired. But that comes later down the line.
Sales & Marketing ÷ New Customers
Acquiring new customers is expensive. You have to factor in the cost of social media management to get the word out, digital marketing efforts, and paid search ads, among many other things.
Calculating customer lifetime value (CLV)
You don’t have to be a mathematician to understand the importance of customer lifetime value. By understanding the customer experience you deliver from acquisition throughout your relationship with customers and quantifying feedback at all key touchpoints, you’’ be able to understand the key drivers of your CLV.
CLV is a metric that makes the most sense for customers you’ve had for a long time— think a mortgage customer or a long-time bank account holder. CLV not only tells you what your customer relationships are worth, it’s a fantastic way to spot customer churn. Do you notice that in the past year less and less money has been deposited into an account? Has a credit card gone unused with a $0 balance for an extended period of time? CLV can help you get to the bottom of customer inactivity and triage new methods of engagement and retention.
Customer retention strategies
One important thing to remember: brand awareness yields potential customers; great service yields loyal customers.
Businesses recognized early on that self-service and digital interactions are key to maintaining connections with their current customers. Without the ability to bring customers into a storefront or place of business, new touchpoints needed to be created to keep new and existing customers engaged while answering questions as they arise.
In order to focus on the customer experience, contact centers had to prioritize creating seamless, integrated virtual processes. This not only meant a renewed focus on digital channels to reach customers, (which we’ll touch on later), but also internal systems to provide remote agents the tools to be successful.
Implementing a cloud-based, unified CRM, with the ability to link all interactions in one thread for an agent, can be a game-changer for remote agents. Agents can view customer history, including previous conversations and concerns, in order to best serve their needs. Employees have all the information at their fingertips and can more efficiently help customers during calls.
Retention > acquisition – it starts with great service
Customer service should always be top-of-mind for businesses as they consider new technologies and work processes. The pandemic has only heightened and sped up what was already a fiercely vied over differentiator: customer experience excellence.
Even without the chance to go into a store, bank, or other physical business location, customers still expect to feel valued and to get answers to their questions quickly. That’s why businesses have had to lean into their digital experiences. Digitizing customer service ranges from a strong website to chatbots to interactive voice recognition to speech analytics.
80% of American customers say the most important factors in a positive customer experience are speed, convenience, knowledgeable help, and friendly service.
Businesses can start by building out their website to make it easy for customers to find answers to frequently asked questions. By making the experience simple, customers don’t bother calling an agent and waiting in a queue for a quick answer. This opens up the contact center lines for more complex issues.
Businesses can then make sure to implement or shore up their self-service technologies, like virtual agents, chatbots, and IVR, and make sure they are up-to-date with the most relevant information and address the top needs of customers.
This is pandemic customer acquisition strategy rule number 2: make your first line of interaction self-service so customers can get quick answers to questions on their own time or get routed efficiently to the proper agent.
All of these omnichannel solutions can be threaded through a CRM system, helping agents personalize their conversations with customers.
As customers are routed to live agents, speech analytics can help analyze incoming calls to understand customer sentiment, improve future interactions, and recognize possible sales leads.
During COVID-19, as businesses look for the best way to lower costs, focusing on digital experiences can help strengthen the existing customer base. Self-service and workforce optimization tools can improve current customer relationships, and even build better ones.
It can cost 5x more to acquire new customers than retain current ones. If the pandemic is causing longer sale cycles, businesses can turn their attention to retaining existing customers and developing those relationships.
At the same time, as agents foster current relationships, the sales and marketing teams can nurture the sales funnel, preparing for a post-pandemic world.