7 Ways to Turn Customer Support into a Profit Center

7 Ways to Turn Your Customer into a Profit Center

Sales: the lifeblood of your business.

There are many ways to generate sales, yet for some reason they seem so elusive.

With so many sales generations tactics (marketing, PR, guerrilla tactics, growth hacks, the list goes on), it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

How do you cut through all the clutter?

Through our experience here at Call Loop, and through my personal experience as an internet partaker, we’ve come up with simple ways to grow sales by leveraging something you already have–customer service. Because after all, why start something completely new when you can just tweak something you already have?

That said, here are seven ways to turn your customer support into a profit center.

Customer Support Team

Stock models are always the happiest support people. Image via Flickr

1. Making more of support email

There are two emails you will send when interacting with a customer: the Support email and the Thank You For Your Business/receipt email.

Both are necessary, and both are terribly underused as profit

Email signatures: Email’s most neglected real estate

An email signature is a ubiquitous part of any professional email message.

It personalizes an interaction.

Cool, thanks for the help, Joel from Buffer.

This is a great opportunity, particularly for support emails.

After reading through a message from support, people look at the signature. Why not take advantage of this residual attention?

By inserting anything from a creative banner to a simple line of text, there is room for you to interact with a customer in an area where they weren’t necessarily expecting to interact with you.

Promotions

Are you running a contest or special promotion?

Create a banner to place below your signature–something to catch your customer’s eye. Let customers know that for a limited time, there will be a discount on a higher-tier product, or that for the next two weeks, you’re giving away one month free for each referral a customer gives.

The idea is to offer customers something exciting when they’re least expecting it–thus taking advantage of the element of surprise.

Another way to use this tactic is to theme a banner to match holidays. Even something as simple as “Happy Thanksgiving from Call Loop! We’re thankful for you!” will bring a smile to customers’ lips and stand out in their minds.

The key is to keep it simple and be thoughtful. This way, people are more likely to be happy with you and will keep your brand top-of-mind.

Coupons

Another way to use the banner idea is for a coupon. Send a support message, and offer a 10% discount for the next-tier product. In fact whats even better is to send a SMS coupon after a ticket has been resolved.

Like mentioned above, the element of surprise makes people happy. What could be better than receiving something when all you were expecting is help troubleshooting?

Offering coupons is a strong way to drive sales, and one that helps keep customers in the long run.

After all, if you offer such spectacular service for the basic package, and you’re offering a discount, then just imagine how rosy the world must be with a premium account!

2. Hacking receipts

One of the most effective ways to generate sales is through referrals.

Why?

Because people trust people like them when it comes to spending money.

So how do you leverage the peer-to-peer money machine that is referral sales?

Leveraging “everyone wins”

Buying something new is a time of mixed emotion: you’re excited by your purchase, but uncertain about it.

Will it meet expectations? Will it surpass them?

As a brand, you can take advantage of this mental state by offering discounts or gifts in exchange for a referral.

It’s similar to what I mentioned above–receipts are necessary forms of communication that have fallen into monotony and can be changed to your advantage.

Take a receipt email and put a banner or a line at the bottom sharing your latest promotion and offering coupons for referrals.

Or, take it a step further and offer people dual rewards.

Oprah Whinfrey

Oprah knows great service. Image via Hotmeme

Rewards

If you really want to love your customers, put a reward link at the bottom of an email.

This method is one that has been used by both Lyft and Uber, with “Give a Ride, Get a Ride” deals on customer receipts.

By doing something similar, you generate referrals as people seek the rewards you’re offering (remember, the one thing people love more than saving money is getting free stuff).

The beauty of this tactic is that it both leads to new users and fosters goodwill among current users (because again, who doesn’t like free stuff?).

You can use this tactic to generate referral traffic both on an individual level and on the larger social level.

Put a link at the bottom of your email, offering a free month for the recipient and a friend.

Or, take the referrals to a larger level by integrating social media. Add social share buttons in your signature, and offer people a small discount for simply clicking the icons and spreading the word.

Offering rewards is a great tactic because it works for all sorts of products and services across all sorts of industries–and people feel loved.

Receipts are also common places to insert surveys, which can be used as a tactic all their own.

3. Surveys: Getting feedback, and then some

Nothing’s ever perfect. There’s always room for improvement.

You know this, and act on this adage by gathering as much feedback from customers as possible.

At the end of a support call, feedback. At the bottom of a receipt, feedback. Loud and proud on your website–feedback.

Feedback can be qualitative (like filling out a text box) or it can be quantitative (like completing a survey).

Qualitative feedback can–and should–be piggybacked onto the customer service component or be accessed freely through your site.

Quantitative feedback, or surveys, are what I’ll go into now as another way to generate sales.

The happiness game

If your company offers exceptional customer service, you know to always make sure a distressed customer leaves happy.

At the end of a phone call, ask if he or she is happy with the way the problem was handled. With CallLoop you can send personalized SMS messages to get feedback on you customer support to ensure that they leave happy.

If the answer is a no, keep going and fix it. Offer a discount, an upgrade, or a gift to apologize for the inconvenience. Remember that dissatisfied customers are twice as vocal as satisfied customers, so it’s best for business to make everyone as happy as possible.

Image via Help Scout

When customers say they’re happy with the way they’re being treated, give thanks, and ask for a referral. If the person is reluctant to give one, you can politely insist–but more on that below.

4. Quality customer support: Be a person

While it’s all good and well to be creative with technology, it’s important to remember the human element of customer service and its power in all things sale.

This is something we stress at Call Loop, making it a point to put everyone through Customer Service.

The benefits of this are two-fold: first, there is no better way to acquaint yourself with a product than by troubleshooting it. Second, it develops your interactions with people. This latter point, we found, comes in very handy with sales.

At Call Loop, we try to cater support to the customer. So as an example, if the person seeking help is a big customer who we believe would benefit from the next-tier service, we have someone from sales take the call.

Because we make it a point to train our employees in customer service as much as possible, this works well.

There’s someone trained to help you solve your problems–who can also explain to you the ins and outs of our service to make sure you’re using what’s best suited for your needs.

Then at the end of a successful customer service call, you can upsell and offer coupons, or ask for a referral. Send your customer a SMS coupon quickly and easily to show your appreciation and that they’re.

The upsell

When interacting with customers, you always want to aim for personalization.

Making someone feel that the person helping him is determined to solve his problems fosters brand loyalty.

And when you do this, a customer isn’t put off by an upsell at the end of a call.

There is a very irritatingly salesman-y way to try to register users for a more expensive product at the end of a call, so it’s best to be helpful and genuine.

Similar to what was mentioned above, it’s best when you honestly feel the person being helped would benefit from a different product. When done well, it’s a good way to get customers to upgrade–or at least learn more about your products.

In this same vein, it helps to offer coupons after an upsell. Helping a customer with a problem, suggesting a more effective service, and then proposing 15% off for the first month is a tough offer to forego.

Referrals

Asking for a referral at the end of a customer service call is another oft-forgotten way to snag referral sales.

When someone has been truly helped, they’re usually thankful and likely to return a favor. This is why asking for a referral–right then and there–is so effective.

People will usually say yes, seeming obliged to thank you with a referral or two.

When people say no, thank them once more, and ask again. Stress how referrals strengthen your business, and allow you to keep providing excellent and personalized customer service. By the time you’ve said this, people will usually give in and pass along a referral or two.

People connect with you when you reach out to them on a human level–and more so when you’re coming from a small team.

5. The power of “in person”

Imagine: you’re having coffee with a friend, and your phone suddenly buzzes. The screen lights up.coffee

Oh, that support email you’ve been waiting for just arrived. You open it up, glance it over, and are about to get back to your friend, when wait! What’s this?

A banner at the bottom of your email says, “Are you happy with our service? Now you can refer a friend and both of you can get 20% off one month of our service. Use code SERVICE465”

You, absolutely intrigued, mention it to your companion. Instant sale, instant saving, instant conversation starter.

It’s easy to lose track of the power that human interaction has.

Another way to harness the power of in-person, human interaction is to offer an in-person, human-type reward.

For example, instead of offering people a discount, offer them each a $5 Starbucks gift card. Bonus points: this will be particularly effective if you’re targeting millennials or young professionals.

As someone in this demographic, I can promise you that few of my peers can resist the caffeinated call of the espresso machine.

This tactic is most effective with social brands. Don’t forget that the most compelling way to grow is through sharing–and the most compelling way to share is in person.

6. Messages and chat: People and convenience

Customer service is what makes or breaks a company. It’s absolutely essential for a startup company. This we’ve established.

However, it’s hard (impossible?) to man the phone 24 hours a day when you’ve got a team of five people.

One way to alleviate the phone problem is with chat.

Live chat is another great way to interact with customers. It allows them to have their questions answered without the inconvenience of a phone call or the delay of an email. If you have the people to man live, on-site chat, it’s a great way to go.

But that too comes back to the 24-hour-a-day support problem–how do you man live chat when your non-robot employees like to get some sleep?

At Call Loop, we’ve found a great way is to have a message box.

During the day, offer live chat. You’ve seen them:

“Have a question? Ask it here! Chat now with a team member.”

Then, when the day ends and people go home, turn the live chat into a message box.

“Have a question? Leave us a message here.”

This is much more convenient than looking for a support email or calling a number, and we found people are pretty content to voice their problem and wait a while for some help.

In this case, the convenience customers feel with live chat extends into the convenience of leaving a quick message. This makes them happy, and is great for both sales and support.

And this component, of course, lends itself to asking for feedback and referrals.

7. Holding on the phone: The end of elevator music

You know the scene:

“Would you mind holding for a moment?” 

… And cue the elevator music.

Nobody enjoys being placed on hold to begin with, and elevator music is like salt in the wound.

So why not change this seemingly inevitable slice of bureaucracy? Use the time between phone call transfers to engage customers.

One way to do this is to play testimonials. Hearing different people express themselves in ways unique to them is interesting–or at least more interesting than a piano cover of the latest Katy Perry song.

Letting previous customers rave about your product is good because not only does it allow for transparency, but also opens the eyes of the person on hold to new features or new ways to use your product.

Remember, people trust people like them. So let people like them talk about why you’re so awesome.

Another way to use hold time is to give offers.

Tease people with things like, “Be sure to ask how you can get Call Loop for free today.”

Who doesn’t want something free? And all you have to do is ask? Even if it’s just a discount, this is an effective way to get people to inquire without having to pitch them yourself–something that can be irritating.

And then, when they ask about getting your product for free, tell them it’s easy–they need only leave a recorded testimonial that you can play during hold time.

Just like that, things come full circle and you’ve got a virtuous, elevator music-free, cycle.

The takeaway

Ultimately, this post comes down to the power and importance of providing great customer support, and using it to your advantage.

Derek Sivers of CD Baby sums it up well when he says, “The single most important thing is to make people happy. If you are making people happy, as a side effect, they will be happy to open up their wallets and pay you.”

The internet makes it easy to avoid interacting with people who need your help. It works the other way too, though–by providing excellent customer service, you can pleasantly surprise customers, making them happy and converting them into brand evangelists.

Have you used excellent customer support to grow your sales? Did we miss any tactics? Share below, we’d love to hear from you!

Chris Brisson

Chris is the co-founder and CEO at Call Loop. He is focused on marketing automation, growth hacker strategies, and creating duplicatable systems for growing a remote and bootstrapped company. Chat with him on Twitter at @chrisbrisson