Event Recap: How to Build Robust Customer Retention Strategies in 2023

CX expert Birttany Hodak and Vandebron's Digital Experience Manager, Bob Molenaar.

Want to be a 2023 trendsetter? Get up to speed with the #1 customer service trend for this year — and find out why customer retention should be your top priority.

If you weren’t at our recent event “How to prioritize customer retention in a recession” you missed a record-breaking webinar — with more signups than ever seen before at an Ultimate event. It was the first in a series of customer service trend spotlight events that we’ll be running over the coming months (and it went down pretty well, if we do say so ourselves).

But you haven’t missed out! You can catch up on the full recording here. Otherwise, read on for a quick recap.

The buzz around this event sends a clear message: Customer retention is top of mind for business leaders today. With a recession looming, companies are abandoning expensive acquisition tactics and fiercely zoning in on their existing customer base.

To kick things off Ultimate’s COO and Co-founder Sarah Al-Hussaini brought us up to speed with the 7 CS trends to watch out for in 2023 (psst… you can find them all in our annual trends report). Then, she took us through the nitty-gritty of why retention is so important.

Why customer retention matters

Besides the 2008 financial crisis, in 2023 economic growth around the world is predicted to be the slowest in over 20 years. Companies are looking for places to scale back costs and drive efficiency — and they’re looking to customer retention.

Knowing your existing customer base makes it easier to personalize experiences, to serve them on the channels they prefer, and to provide them with tailored incentives to stick with your brand. And, as Sarah told us, improving customer retention rates by a mere 5% can lead to a rise in profits of 25% or more.

Brittany Hodak’s take on customer retention

Next we brought out the big guns, passing over to award-winning entrepreneur, author, and leading CX expert Brittany Hodak. If you haven’t come across Brittany’s work before, she is known for bringing her background in the entertainment industry into the world of CX — and helping brands turn their customers into loyal superfans.

Brittany highlighted the importance of focusing on customer relationships at every stage, not just when there’s a risk of churn. And it takes a company-wide effort to truly focus on retention.

“Every person on your team is in the retention department, whether they know it or not.”

- Brittany Hodak, Keynote Speaker & CX Expert

Hear more insights from Brittany in our recent interview with her.

Vandebron’s experience of improving customer retention with automation

Bringing this to life, green energy provider Vandebron (one of our valued customers at Ultimate) took us through how they have doubled down on customer retention during the ongoing energy crisis. Their Digital Experience Manager, Bob Molenaar, shared some tangible customer retention strategies that Vadebron have put into practice. This includes:

  • Leveraging chat automation to provide fast and empathic support — such as pushing information about government energy relief packages to their customers
  • Implementing a customer journey team to map and optimize each touchpoint with their brand — like creating payment plans for customers who are struggling with higher bills
  • Carrying out regular customer interviews, gathering feedback, and really listening to their customers’ voices

Vandebron has also reached an impressive automation rate of up to 55%. This means their support team can handle 150% higher volumes without hiring a single extra agent — driving cost per interaction down. And it's great for retention because customers don't have to wait for the answers they need. It's a win-win.

“Customers value personalized journeys. Even with tough topics like invoicing, we try to make the experience as smooth as possible.”

- Bob Molenaar, Digital Experience Manager, Vandebron

And this focus on customer retention has paid off — with Vandedron consistently seeing one of the highest Net Promoter Scores (NPS) in the energy sector. In future, to hone in on retention even further, Vandebron plans to use their virtual agent to cross and upsell to existing customers. They also want to add backend integrations to their solution, so their bot can resolve more complex customer issues within the chat.

To wrap things up

To finish up, Sarah took the stage again to share 3 tips for improving customer retention:

  • Understand how your customers are behaving: Tap into your data — your support conversations and customer information — to identify your customers’ most common needs. Many AI-powered tools can help you achieve this while keeping customer data secure.
  • Listen to what your customers are saying: The most forward-thinking companies have started implementing customer journey teams or voice of customer programs to map and optimize CX.
  • Optimize behind-the-scenes processes: Whatever you do, never cut costs in areas your customers will see or feel. Don’t ghost them, make them wait, or let the quality of your product or service suffer. Optimize your behind-the-scenes setup instead using intelligent automation.

And that’s a wrap!

Find out how to provide CX that builds customer loyalty