Customer Service Customer Retention

At some point in everyone’s life they are forced to reach out a company because of an issue. Could be something small like a billion question, or something large like their hover board caught fire and burned the house down, or anything in between. It’s in these moments of communication that we are met by a branch of the company that either continues our support of the company or makes us incredibly annoyed, bordering on filled with rage, for the company: Customer Service.

We’ve all had the experiences with a company’s customer service that you tell your friends and family about. Those terrible experiences that make you swear off the company (hello AT&T, internet service) and vow to never return, and a lot of people don’t: in 2011, 86% of consumers quit doing business with a company due to bad customer service.

These experiences are often mind-numbing experiences where you know exactly what you need, but the company just isn’t helping you in any way, shape, or form. Whether it’s jumping through six different phone lines to finally talk to a person, the customer service rep not speaking your language, being placed on hold for too long, or any other nightmare experience you can imagine, we’ve all been there. Things are changing though.

The Era of The Customer

It’s 2016, and everywhere you look you see companies placing more importance on the customer service aspect of their business. You can see examples of it in the way successful companies are operating: Apple has long had some of the best customer service in their industry and is sort of the standard to go by. Hubspot is another example that offers great customer service, as well as training on products, for their users. It’s 2016, and the customer service bar is being raised.

Any idea why customer service is being viewed with such huge importance to companies? Because happy customers are more likely to be retained by a company, and companies have, on average, a 60-70% chance of selling to existing customers as compared to the 5-20% chance of selling to new ones. It’s all about increasing your customer retention, and some companies are crushing it with their efforts.

On top of that, it’s 6-7 times more expensive to acquire new customers than it is to retain your current ones; having good customer service and support just makes too much sense not to do it. Customer service directly leads to customer retention, it’s techniques, and must be treated with the same importance. One example of a company that is doing it the right way? Buffer.

Buff Up That Customer Support

Buffer Customer Service

Buffer is a social media planning tool that allows users to post to the major social networking sites, drive traffic, increase engagements, and efficiently use your time. The software allows the user to plan and space out their social postings. Buffer essentially is a tool similar to Hootsuite that let’s you do an entire weeks worth of social media posting all at once. These tools are incredibly helpful for marketers and social media professionals, and really allow for efficient time management.

So how is Buffer excelling at customer service, and by extension with customer retention? It’s all starts with one word: happiness. But why happiness? Let’s look at what Buffer themselves and to say in regards to customer support:

We view every interaction that comes our way—every email, tweet, question, review, mention and more—as a true privilege. We know that it means someone took special time out of their day to think about us or get in touch with us. It’s a chance for us to have a conversation, to learn something we didn’t know before, to think about what we could do differently or better.

This is such a novel and pleasant way to look at customer service and support that you can’t help but be intrigued about the company who views it this way. By viewing every possible interaction, even if it could be a negative one, as an opportunity to grow a relationship with a customer, Buffer is setting themselves up a great reputation of support, which in turn will lead to retaining those customers.

To look deeper into how they do this, you must look at what their teams comprised of:

  • Happiness Heroes
  • Weekend Warriors
  • Community Champion

No, this isn’t some awesome fantasy game come to life (unfortunately), this is Buffer’s approach to the roles of customer support and how to do it better. These Heroes and Warriors are Buffer’s version of customer support reps, who are there to make the lives of their customers better with every action they do. Most are reactionary to customer actions, concerns, or complaints, but they also have the ability to reach out and engage in a proactive manner, which is a great way to build a relationship on their terms, as opposed to customers coming to them.

The Community Champion is similar to a communicate manager, but takes it to a whole new level. Buffer’s CC reaches out to customers not only through social media, but also with other creative means. The CC might send out hand written letters to customers, or answer individual tweets on Twitter to interact with the customers. All of this adds up to happier customers, which translates to customers who stick around longer. Remember, 91% of unhappy customers are unlikely to stick around; happiness for retention’s sake, matters.

Support Takeaways

So what can a regular business take away from the excellent example of Buffer, or even the larger examples of Apple and Hubspot? A few very important core concepts.

1. Communication is Everything

The companies that people love interacting with all have one major common denominator: they communicate with their customers. Whether it be replying to a social media message or social media hate, returning phone calls as quickly as possible, or preemptively reaching out to consumers, communication is the hallmark of good customer service, and customer retention for that matter.

2. Speed, Speed, Speed.

On top of good communication, these businesses operate with timely communication. Buffer, for example, gets back to emails within minutes of the customer sending it out. They get people on the phone quickly to answer their questions or concerns. They quickly respond back to social media posts, whether they were directly contacted or not, and do their best to help the situation. The speed of their customer service is a great positive example.

3. Customer Engagement

While most customer service is about reactive situations, customer engagement in a positive manner is a proactive approach. Reaching out to consumers commenting on a social media post, scouring Twitter and offering assistance for problems not necessarily addressed to you, sending out emails that provide value to consumers is a great way to go about it.

It’s Not All About The Money


Perhaps the most impressive part of Buffer’s customer support is that they have a massive amount of users they have to contend with. On top of that, their product is largely built on a free model, which means most of their users aren’t necessarily bringing them revenue. Despite this, Buffer still puts just as much effort and care into making the free users happy as they do premium users. They treat all of their customers like they’re the most important customer they have because it pays dividends in the long run, turning customers into followers and promoters of the brand to others.

One of the main facets of customer retention, along with marketing and design, is customer happiness. Keeping the customer happy keeps them coming back to your company keeps the revenue flowing through them. Buffer has shown that customer happiness is a focal point of their customer service, and other companies would do well to adapt their customer service model to match what Buffer is doing. After all, if you want to be a happy company (re: profitable), you need happy customers to get there.