Customer Service

How to increase retention using service automation and your small business CRM

Caroline Burk

Updated: May 03, 2024 · 7 min read

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Everything’s better when it’s made just for you — a home-cooked meal, a new outfit a gift. This rule also applies to your automations, specifically your service automations. These include referral requests, subscription management, customer onboarding, reminders and more

This area of business automation involves a lot of emails and texts that could be considered mundane, tedious and impersonal. However, this just means you have to get a little bit creative and utilize your small business CRM in order to make these messages something your contacts appreciate. After all, any time you’re communicating with your customers is another opportunity to impress and delight them. And when you take time to go the extra mile, you’re able to land repeat sales, gain positive reviews, increase referral traffic and so much more.

In this article, we’ll walk through three service automation tasks and how you can enhance them for better customer relationships using the information you already have in your small business CRM.

Three service automation tasks and easy ways to enhance them

Customer onboarding, reminders and referrals/reviews are all key parts of business automation. Chances are, you’re already using these automations daily, but diving into each one can reveal some opportunities to impress your customers and provide them with a more personal experience. Let’s get to it.

1. Customer onboarding

After you’ve secured a sale, it’s far too easy to do a happy dance and then forget to keep up the stellar customer service. But a perfect way to resolve this issue before it even begins is by personalizing the customer onboarding experience.

Right off the bat, there are three personalized messages you should make sure to include in your strategy:

Thank you email

After a purchase, it’s typical for customers to receive a confirmation email. That’s the bare minimum these days, so to raise the bar a bit, automate a dedicated thank you emailpersonalized with the customer’s name, their most recent purchase, contact information if they need help and a friendly message. For repeat customers, you can even throw in a mention of their other past purchases to show your appreciation.

What to expect

A tried-and-true way to delight customers is to anticipate their needs and provide for them before problems arise. To accomplish this, simply craft an email outlining the post-purchase next steps — you can even include this in your thank you email.

Use this message to explain to customers the timeline of when they can expect their purchase to be fulfilled, how to set up relevant accounts, some tips related to the product or service they bought and any other details that might bring them peace of mind. By tailoring this communication to your customer’s specific purchase, you offer support in an intentional, personalized way.

Educational resources

Free educational materials are another great avenue to enhancing the customer experience. You could send these resources directly after they’ve purchased, while they wait for their order to be fulfilled or a few weeks after they’ve received it and had a chance to use it.

Some resources to send their way could be blog articles, webinars, guides, ebooks or a mix of all of them. The personal touch with this email comes when you handpick free resources you know relate to their interests or their purchase history. You can automate this process by segmenting your customer list in your small business CRM based on similar interests, creating a unique resource email for each group once, then letting automation do the rest.

Overall, the goal is to make sure your customers don’t feel like just another face in the crowd. Instead, you want them to feel seen, supported and understood in their post-purchase journey, and these three strategies will do just that.

If you’ve already checked these three boxes and are searching for additional ways to personalize your service automation plan, try some of the ideas below.

Strategies to go the extra mile:

  • Dedicated onboarding specialist: Assigning a specific team member to each customer automatically humanizes all messages and helps develop a stronger relationship between your brand and your customers.
  • Regular check-ins: Pop into your customers’ inboxes periodically to see how they’re enjoying your product or service. And make sure they know you’re still there to help if they need it.
  • Celebrate milestones: Send a fun, friendly little message to celebrate your customers' progress or anniversary.
  • Share social proof: Get customers excited about the results they can expect by sending them testimonials from other happy customers.
  • FAQs: If you have an FAQ page, collect those questions and send them over to your customers. They’re probably asking them too, so being proactive will save them the trouble of contacting support or searching your website for answers.

2. Reminders

If we’re being honest, reminders of all kinds are easy to ignore. They’re often seen as formalities with no real substance or thought behind them, but automation and a small business CRM can change this.

Below are a few common reminders and ways to take them to the next level with personalization.

Abandoned cart

Incorporate abandoned cart reminders and further elevate them by including the product or service your customer was looking at, testimonials about that particular item and even a discount code to entice them to take the next step.

Preference management

What better way to get personal than to ask your customers what they want? Send your contacts an email or text inviting them to update their messaging preferences. This way, you will know without a doubt whether they prefer emails or texts, what types of content they enjoy and how often they want to receive it. Your small business CRM will store this data so you can send to each particular customer according to their feedback.

Sale reminders

Customers are busy, and they could be interested in a promotion you’re having, but it may have slipped their mind amid all their other obligations. Send a friendly message to your customers to remind them of any current sales or promotions you have going on. Bonus points if you can let them know about a sale on a specific product or service they’ve already expressed interest in or purchased in the past.

For example, if you notice some customers have abandoned their carts for one of your products, segment them all into a group and send a text to let them know an item they’ve been eyeing is now on sale. This will show you care enough to help them save money while also securing a sale for you — it’s a win-win!

Payment reminders

If you offer ongoing services, payment plans are your best friend, and even payment reminders can be enhanced by service automation and some personal touches.

First and foremost, make sure these reminders are clear, outlining payment due dates, outstanding balances, and other payment information. These are the most important pieces that your customers will be looking for, so make sure they don’t have to spend time hunting them down. After ensuring your messages are clear, you can focus on enhancing them. Below are a few ideas to try:

  • Offer a surprise discount or a freebie to show your appreciation for their business
  • Remind them of different payment options in case they’d like to switch
  • Follow up after they’ve paid with a note from a team member featuring some words of encouragement and gratitude

3. Reviews and referrals

Requesting reviews and referrals both fall into the service automation category, but many business owners find themselves feeling awkward reaching out to ask customers for these items. One of the best ways to combat that feeling is by personalizing your requests.

If you do a deep dive into best practices for requesting referrals and reviews, you’ll find providing something in return and showing your appreciation are pillars you can’t ignore.

Next time you ask for a review or referral, give it a boost by offering a freebie in return. Your small business CRM can help you customize this based on different segments of your customers. Some good options include providing a discount code, free webinar registration or an upgrade for an upcoming event.

Then, once you see referrals and reviews rolling in, make sure you and your team are responding to them in a personal way. A thoughtful response to each individual can go a long way and let your customers know you appreciate the time and effort they put into their response.

Keep up the good work

Rarely does any business owner ever regret delighting their customers. Spending a bit of extra time checking in and going the extra mile will make their day and help you reach your goals.

Service automation and its related tasks are the perfect launching point to start this process, and if you’re looking to apply the concepts you’ve read about today across other areas of business automation, we have other customer retention strategies that can help. Check them out, then explore how business automation can save you and your team time as you implement new strategies.

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