Success through Customer Retention

“Retention trumps acquisition” – Aaron Ginn

“70% of companies say it’s cheaper to retain a customer than acquire one and 49% say that, pound for pound, they achieve better ROI by investing in relationship marketing over acquisition marketing.” – Our Social Times Limited

Based on this fact, it is safe to say that companies can insure success through customer retention. Those who place more emphasis on acquiring new ones, find themselves caught in a costly loop that is not easily broken.  When acquiring a new customer, the focus must remain on getting them for life, since loyal customers add more value and higher profitability for any company. According to another study, a mere 5% increase in customer retention can potentially increase profits anywhere from 25% to 125%, which makes customer retention a clear leader and winner over all other aspects. Improving and focusing on retention, will serve to improve all the other realms of business too.  In an already stressed and overburdened customer and business scenario, companies have no choice but to hold on to their customers if they hope to survive to start with. Success through customer retention will happen when customers see value in doing business, get consistently good customer service and can be constantly engaged with the company.

– Customers buy and continue to do so when they perceive some commonality in goals and vision between their own and that of the company they are engaged with.  Companies must take the time and make the effort to understand their customer’s vision, plans and policies thoroughly before they can create one that matches that of the customer. The company’s policies must reflect and clearly define what your company stands for and how being associated with you will benefit the customer. Your products and or services must fit into their scheme of things and reflect the vision of their company.

– Despite the stupendous rise of digital space and social media some companies are still less than equipped to manage customers on all the possible available communication channels. Customers tend to get frustrated very easily if they are unable to get service on the platforms they choose to interact on. Ensure that your service is not only present on all the channels but the message, agent efficiency and level of service is uniform across. The agents must understand the ‘need for speed and efficiency’ the customers have and expect and must remain polite, empathetic and caring at all times. Product knowledge and technical skills are also extremely important to ensure continuity and consistency of service. Such levels of service ensure that customers keep coming back and providing more business. Your company retains its customers who, over time become loyal and profitable.

– Again given that social media is so important now, there are so many companies who still do not have a robust plan that includes it in their overall customer service plan. If statistics helps to paint a clear picture – a study reveals that at least 88% customers are less inclined to buy from a company that leaves queries and complaints made over social media unanswered. Why would companies risk doing this? Having a robust system and an efficient set of personnel to manage social media communication can prevent customer churn and enhance customer retention leading to success through profitability.

–  Not only do some companies not have fool-proof customer service strategies, they are constantly gung-ho about attracting new customers and tend to ignore their loyal and long standing customers. All the new schemes, incentives and ‘best deals’ are reserved for prospective customers. This leads to existing customers feeling neglected and this is when they decide to leave for companies that will treat them better. Achieve success through customer retention by paying close attention to the customers who have been with you and contributed to your bottom-line and market reputation for so long. Show them that you care and value them by creating incentives and loyalty programs only for them. For example – allowing them to accumulate points for every purchase will encourage repeat business and they would also have something to look forward to – a certain number of points could mean a great reward or big discount coupon. You get the idea right? It is all about keeping your most profitable customers engaged and happy.

– Irrespective of how big your customer is, there is no one who does not want or appreciate customized service and this is one of the major reasons that customers stick with companies. Focus on collecting and collating data about customer behaviour and buying patterns. Use this data to put together offerings that will directly address the customer’s needs and be readily usable by them. The product your company may have decided to make could have been completely different and probably not served the customer in the way they expect a product to – customizing the product line based on customer needs and expectations is a sure way to keep customers with you for a long time. Anyone would want to buy from a company that is mindful and takes special care of the customer’s particular needs. The purpose of a business is to serve customers and if the service is personalized and meticulous, it will not be hard for a company to score high on customer retention.

– Teaching, communicating and re-educating are all key components in success through customer retention. These components do not just apply to upgrading the skills and knowledge of your own front-line staff but are also directed at customers. Unless they know what you are doing and how much value you can add to their business, the best of efforts would be wasted. Ensure that your agents are competent to get the message out to the customers in a consistent and effective manner and via all or any channel that the customer may be most happy using. The message content must be crisp, precise, clear, interesting and engaging enough for customers to pay attention and later also decide to invest time and money in your company. The fact is that customers see value in the time taken to explain the details to them – it makes them feel that the company is taking interest in what matters to them and over time this makes them loyal and a trusted partner.

– At the risk of sounding repetitive, we must add that it is vital to continually ask the customers for feedback. This is essential since customer needs and expectations change and unless you are aware of their current situation, it would be tough to decipher and put together accurate and personalized service and offerings. Customer feedback is extremely informative, accurate and provides invaluable insights into how customers perceive your company, thereby affording you the opportunity to make improvements where required or pat yourself on the back on jobs well done and build on those strengths. As you get better at understanding customers, retaining them will not seem like an uphill task.

Companies have resources in place – they just need to use them better in order to maximize the value they afford to their customers. Listening actively and acting consistently and speedily on what you hear from customers, will engage and keep your customers interested in what you have to offer and can offer. Customer retention efforts must be on-going and relentless and this also serves to improve on the awareness about your company and the brands you market. Ensure that your front-line employees especially are continually trained and their skills are upgraded – this will make them more confident and in control of their responsiveness to customers. Happy customers help to boost the morale of employees, making them happy too and more inclined to serve customers better. Customers that receive great service and offerings are more easily retained thereby increasing the reputation, bottom-line and profitability of your company. It is quite a speedily moving yet happy cycle!

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