Keeping the Good Customers

“Our greatest asset is the customer! Treat each customer as if they are the only one!”Laurice Leitao

We know that customers are not equal and it is easy to segment good customers from the – well – not so good ones. The good news however, is that the latter kind can be turned to good customers by creating great experiences and building robust relationships with them. Good customers are not simply those who buy the products and services offered by the company. ‘Good’ encompasses a lot more and it is the onus of the company to ensure that they are keeping their good customers – it is still easier to retain customers than it is to attract new ones. Good customers are those who, through their association with the company, add value to it. In addition, your good customers will be happy to help the company by providing valuable insights, opinions and feedback. They would not skimp on or delay payments and would be forthcoming with suggestions and creative ideas to improve the products or services offered by your company. To top this list of ‘traits’, your good customers would be more than happy to spread their positive experiences with others, provide referrals and give stellar testimonies for your company.

Keeping your good customers then, makes for great business sense as these customers ensure long term benefits to the company and their association has a high return on investment. Companies must ensure focus on building, enhancing and sustaining long-term beneficial relationships with these customers to reap rich rewards. As pointed out, not all customers prove to be ‘good’ or valuable to a company and hence a proper analysis of the existing customer base would enable a company to demarcate the good customers from the average and not good ones. Good customers are more likely to provide repeat business and attract more business for your company, while there are some customers that do not provide much business but can and still others only gain from the association with the company without really loosening their purse strings to add to the profits of the company.

Making such demarcations and segmentation is extremely crucial for any company as it cements their efforts towards profitability and customer loyalty. Managing the customer base may seem rather straightforward and an easy process but with so many customers switching companies, it would seem that the opposite is true. We have discussed previously that customer service is subjective – what is good for one customer is not necessarily so for another. Therefore, unless a company thoroughly understands and analyses each customer, it would be impossible to differentiate between good customers and the bad ones. With no differentiation a company and would be unable to retain the former kind or put their efforts in pleasing the customers that are unlikely to benefit them. In addition, without pertinent customer information and data the company would find it hard to customize and personalize the communiqués, products, channels of communication and such aspects directly connected with the customer.  Customers prefer to work with companies that treat them as valuable and important and without customization, it would be difficult for customers to trust or depend on a company.

Keeping the good customers and weeding out the bad ones requires focused attention. Companies are recognizing this fact and investments in technology such as CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software is on the rise. This is a strategic approach to ensure that every member of the company recognizes good customers and makes every attempt to keep them with the company. Making this a company-wide endeavour works more smoothly than if, this was the onus of only the customer service and sales and marketing teams. Each person in the company would be pulling their weight to ensure that the good customers remain loyal and satisfied customers become good ones in the shortest possible timeframe. When customers receive consistently great service and the same customized message through all touch-points, they are more likely to place their trust in the company and would be willing to invite their friends and associates to experience the same. The new customers that these good customers attract enter the company minus any apprehensions and would already be more than just satisfied customers. This is in turn saves money and effort for the company on promotional and advertising campaigns.

Customer segmentation and gathering data does not only work well for good customers or potentially good ones amongst the existing customer base. This exercise is equally vital to identify prospective customers and former customers who could return. Paying close attention to this information encourages good customers to stay with the company and gains more good ones for the company. Apart from being able to identify potential customers in existing markets, companies can also gain valuable information about untapped markets and customer groups that could possibly need the products and services of a company. The idea is to gain a large number of good customers and ensure that they remain with the company.

Concerted effort is required since despite good intentions and focus, there could be many challenges and obstacles towards maintaining strong relationships with good customers and others. The human factor, failed technology, communication lapses, inadequate training and knowledge of staff, inefficient leadership and other such reasons derail a company’s efforts towards gaining and keeping good customers. It takes a while before the culture of customer service as a business imperative becomes ubiquitous within a company.

Retaining good customers requires effort and there are many ways in which companies can do so. Ensure that your good customers know that you consider them valuable assets for your company – thank you notes, public acknowledgement on social media, special offers and discounts and other such efforts will assure them that your company cares about them. Take note and respond to both criticism and compliments – both these are forms of customer feedback that any company would be lucky to have. Remembering important events and dates, names of these customers and wishing them for special achievements make for robust methods to keep and build relationships with your good customers.

Consistently great service, innovative products and value-added services will ensure that your good customers double up as brand ambassadors for the company. This paves the way to gaining more good customers to do business and enhancing the reputation of the company. Larger number of good customers in the customer base will ensure repeat business and substantially add to the bottom line of the company. Companies must allow self-service options and anytime access for their good customers. Another reason that customers remain with a company is receiving updated content and value-added information that helps them personally and helps their business – ensure that your company constantly updates the content on its website, social media sites and other platforms aimed at the customers.

Good customers provide referrals. Ensure that your company reaches out to the people referred and also thanks the customers for providing those referrals. Acknowledgement of the thoughtful acts of customers ensures that they are encouraged to repeat them and keep your company in mind if any of their friends and associates, require products or services offered by it. Reward your good customers with special offers, schemes, incentives and discounts – it encourages them to repeat their ‘good’ behaviour towards your company.

Keeping your good customers is not an easy task. There could be times when a customer believes that they are spending adequately to qualify for the special treatment reserved for high spenders but your company may not believe so. Find a way to clarify expectations but remember any customer’s perception is worthy of respect. Treat all your customers well and it would be easier to gain and retain good customers.

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