A famous Bain & Co study found a 5% increase in customer retention rates grew profits by 25% to 95%. That’s a minimum 400% return on investment.
It’s not a difficult decision to focus on customer service when you frame it like that.
There are a ton of different ways you can build customer loyalty. We’ve seen companies like Harmony Tea Bar use a loyalty program. Other companies ensure their customer service strategy reduces customer effort.
These are both excellent strategies. But a less well-known approach centers on providing VIP customer service.
VIP customer support can improve customer engagement, convert more people to paying customers, and retain them for longer.
Here’s how to make it happen.
The first decision you need to make is who you’re providing VIP customer service to.
Giving every customer a fantastic experience is an admirable goal, but it’s often not realistic for companies with limited resources. The most common segments brands focus on are:
The point we’re making is that you shouldn’t be afraid to make hard decisions about the levels of support customers can expect. Plus, tiers engage your customers because they add motivation, exclusivity, personalization, emotions, and excitement to your brand.
For example, Empathy Wines offers it’s platinum members early access to try their wines and a personal wine concierge service.
The idea is to make sure customers spending more money on their wines get a little extra help.
You still might decide that all your customers need to receive white-glove treatment. Some brands like Zappos aim to deliver VIP service to every customer. However, it’s worth noting that its stated purpose is “To Live and Deliver WOW.” (And despite this, they even offer a VIP tier.)
If you plan on providing this level of service to everyone, you’re going to want to make it an integral part of your overall company’s mission, value proposition, and processes.
What constitutes VIP customer support depends mostly on your industry. For example, e-commerce brands like ThirdLove tend to focus on pre-sales benefits like free shipping and enhanced discounts.
Software-as-a-service companies, like Apollo.io, typically offer VIP accounts exclusive access to an Onboarding & Customer Success Manager once you’ve signed up.
While these offerings are very different, three strategies apply regardless of your product or service.
A personalized welcome message to your customers is an excellent way to kickoff the VIP customer service experience.
And brands that present these welcome messages as coming from a real person on their team (such as the company’s founder or CEO) experience 27% higher unique click-through rates.
Here’s an example of this in practice from Modalyst.
Source: Web Factory Ltd
Beyond coming from a real person, your welcome message should be informative, clear, and actionable. You’re not only welcoming someone aboard but providing them with a clear direction on what happens next.
Let’s say you sign up to a gym and pay an extra fee to become a VIP member. Some of the things that convinced you were the larger lockers, private showers, daily smoothies, and personal training sessions.
The problem is that no one shows you where the lockers are, it’s hard to nail down the personal training sessions, and the private showers are always too busy so you end up in the communal area anyway.
How long will you pay extra to be a VIP?
You can promise a customer the world, but if you can’t help them take advantage of the perks you’re offering, it’s not going to work.
To ensure that this doesn’t happen with your VIP service, you’ll need to ask yourself one core question.
What’s the benefit of becoming a VIP, and how can you help your customers realize it?
In the example of the gym, if many members choose the VIP package for the personal training, you want to make it incredibly easy for them to book their first several sessions.
Once you’ve welcomed and onboarded a VIP, the work has just begun. You’ll also want to solve any issues they have proactively.
Returning to the gym example again, if you notice a VIP customer hasn’t visited in over a month, you could reach out and offer a couple of complimentary passes to bring friends.
You also should consider offering these customers a quick way to reach your team. For example, you might provide them with a text message hotline or phone number they can use when they have any issues.
It’s the approach that American Airlines takes with its miles programs, offering exclusive live customer service to members.
At the start, your VIP program might be a manual process where you even visit these customers in person or at least tailor all your communications.
Over time you might start automating some aspects like the welcome email and even trigger check-ins based on account activity.
And one last thing–you need to ensure that you’re giving customers something they value, whether that’s extra help setting up a new account, free shipping, or quick access to your customer service team.
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