How can SMEs adopt a customer-centric approach? Halito!’s Customer Success Manager sat down with us to explain their approach and share a few useful tips.
The importance of customer centricity and flawless customer service have been discussed many times before. But in practice, how can customer-centric SMEs really build better relationships with their customers on a day-to-day basis? We talked to Halito!’s Customer Success Manager, Kevin Mulders, to learn more about their strategy.
Halito! is active in the event industry, offering an online platform for guest registration and communication in the Netherlands, Belgium and Ukraine.
The focus in their customer service efforts? ‘The happy flow’, a powerful framework they’ve designed which boils down to the following: “how we organise our business can’t be too complicated. Simplicity and speed are essential in everything we do, and we never forget to smile while we’re at it.”
Want to learn how Teamleader can help you focus on customer centricity?
A customer-centric approach isn't built overnight
Today, Halito! caters to multinationals, SMEs, event agencies and governmental entities alike. But their customer service department wasn’t built overnight: it took time to develop and tweak. “We’ve always measured customer satisfaction about our product, service, staff, and processes. But for a long time, we thought we should just offer support in a reactive manner: we were there when they called us.”
“For a long time, we just offered support in a reactive manner: we were there when they called us.”
“A year ago, we figured there’s more to it - our customers and the market simply expect more: they want you to proactively solve questions. That’s when we started our Customer Success department. Now, my colleague Annick, our Customer Success Officer, is the first point of contact for customers. Proactive support has increased our customer satisfaction, and customers are more involved. In just a year’s time, Customer Success really has become one of the most important departments.”
Customer centricity now the heart of it all
Initially, Halito! struggled to truly place customers at the heart of what they did. “We didn’t bridge the gap enough, lacked customer satisfaction metrics, … But we want to be more than a supplier, we want to be a long-term partner offering added value and helping customers deal with any questions they might have. We want to take their event to the next level.”
Now, Halito! strives to exceed customer expectations. "We want to delight. Continuity, added value, involvement, excellence, and scalability are crucial elements in our journey to become a customer-centric business. By sharing our knowhow and expertise, we proactively guide customers to help professionalise the event industry. We maintain closer relationships - and I think that’s an important aspect.”
“Attention makes the difference.”
“We have set ourselves an ambitious target: we want customers to rate us a 9 in customer satisfaction surveys, not a 7. This helps turn customers into brand ambassadors, raising awareness and helping you attract new business opportunities. People will start referring their own network to you, promote good news about you, and exchange their own insights. It’s a win-win, really.”
So how did Halito! adopt this new approach? By implementing the following 5 changes:
1. Measure customer satisfaction
“First, we send out really simple customer surveys at a regular interval, mainly focusing on 5 key performance indicators (KPIs):
“We then ask customers to fill out this survey as honestly as possible, along with one open-ended question (Do you have any tips to help us improve?). This, combined with our Net Promoter Score, gives us key insights into how we are perceived, things we do well and factors we can improve upon.”
2. Regular, personal, face-to-face communication
“Our Marketing team sends out monthly newsletters to customers through MailChimp. We can segment our database based on interests, for instance, to send targeted emails concerning a specific trend or theme. We also attend several fairs throughout the year, where we meet up with our customers. In fact, we send out personal invitations in advance because we want to hear from them. Personal contact on a regular basis creates room for fresh ideas. This allows us to align our product development and services with the needs of the individual customer.”
“Many of our customers really value this personal relationship, and so do we. It allows us to increase customer involvement, exchange ideas and get inspired. And it’s also an important step towards building a community of stakeholders and customers around our business.”
As a software supplier, customers can sometimes ask for the impossible. "Just another reason why communication is key. On an internal level, we will explain our developers why customers feel this request is important, so they can understand their perspective. If we can't deliver what customers ask, we'll openly communicate why, thank them for their suggestion and explain that we'll take their feedback into consideration in the future, which we really do. Input from our customers is paramount for each and every new feature we release."
3. Tailored training
Halito! used to believe their product was self-explanatory enough to not require any formal training or manual. Today, however, customer expectations are constantly on the rise. It's not that their tool lacks intuitiveness, but training sessions allow them to connect with new and existing customers alike. "They help us gain insight into what drives them, and what they worry about - which creates a long-lasting bond."
This year, Halito! started to provide personal training sessions at their offices, as well as online. “Online training helps us save time and with today’s technology, you can share your screen to demonstrate what the user will need to do. The training we provide at our offices is more personal and tailored to the needs of that particular customer. We really take our time to listen - we’re not there to tell them what to do, we’re there to hear what they need.”
“These in-house training sessions also allow us to share our personal findings and best practices, and introduce customers to our software at their own pace.”
4. Keep an eye on important business metrics
“As an IT business, we really are into numbers - which is why we started using Cumul.io, a rich data analysis platform that allows you to quickly get actionable insights, to gain a better understanding of our statistics and KPIs. In terms of our customer service, Teamleader’s ticketing module allows us to see our first and average response time, when we receive most tickets, the full resolution time for each issue, and even assess individual performances within our team.”
“Each email our customers receive related to a ticket now contains a link to the full ticket history. As a result, they won't have to ask what was discussed previously and what this email pertained to. This greatly improves their convenience. We also created custom fields in Teamleader to grant the marketing team some key insights. This way, we can filter on specific segments and get the right message to the right audience.”
5. Ticketing and project management
“Teamleader helps us manage customer relationships. The biggest advantage? The ability to centralise all information and manage your entire business in one tool. The customisation options are great too: suppose you’d like to send a personal email with a special offer or call customers on their birthday."
"Taking a genuine interest in customers matters. Did you know that Halito! translates as 'Feel welcome'?"
“To help solve questions of our customers, we use Teamleader’s ticketing module. We first had our own ticketing tool, but it’s just way easier to combine multiple functionalities in one software. Practical questions are picked up by my colleague, Annick. If we receive technical questions, we simply assign tickets to the right developer, which helps us focus and maintain a clear overview.”
“Aside from those practical questions, we also manage projects for our customers from start to finish when, for example, an event is complex. In these cases, we need to maintain close communication with customers. They experience stress and trust you to make sure everything goes as planned. It's crucial that we make them feel we are there when they need us the most. Thanks to Teamleader, we can grant our customer insight into the status of their project online. Again, this helps us improve customer relationships and involvement altogether.”
These 5 simple, yet effective changes helped Halito! focus on customer centricity and prepare for what’s to come.
Want to know how you can build better relationships in the Digital Age?
Read our e-book to find out.