“What do you mean they’re no longer a client? Are you kidding me? When did that happen? Why did they leave? I can’t believe it!” Have you heard (or said) these words in the past few months or so?
Well, as we all know, clients come and clients go but the sad part about it is that more times than not it’s because we’ve lost track of them or taken them for granted.
Which brings me to the question that begs to be asked: “Why do customers leave?” Curiously, most business owners and managers have the exact wrong idea about why customers leave. Most people believe that customers leave because:
- They found a lower price.
- Their needs have changed.
(Drum roll please)…Wrong!
According to an in-depth study by the research firm CRMGuru, the reasons customers give for taking their “business down the road” are:
- Bad customer service: 74%
- Poor quality of product: 32%
- Pricing: 25%
- Functionality/Needs change: 15%
As you can see, when it comes to keeping your existing customers, customer service is three times more important than price–and five times more important than functionality. Which obviously means that if you want to keep the customers you’ve got, you should think about reversing priorities and pay more attention to customer service and quality – and, consequently, less attention to functionality and price. I fully realize that this runs contrary to 90% of what most people think is important, probably because price and functionality can play a large role in new customer acquisition.
Yet, many marketing plans are so focused on customer acquisition that they largely ignore customer retention. Even a tiny change in customer retention can have a large effect on long-term profitability and growth. This shouldn’t be underestimated. The easiest way to grow your customers is not to lose them. In fact, I recently read that 96 percent of dissatisfied customers don’t complain. They just take their business to one of your competitors, and the unfortunate thing is that you’ll never know why. And what’s worse, while they may not tell you what’s wrong, they will certainly tell plenty of others!
Want to get an edge over your competitors? With a little attention, your business can be one of those which can negate customer churn and improve profitability. Here’s a list of the five strategies (only limited by space) you can use to improve customer retention.
Keep them on your radar screen
So many companies do an excellent job of making the initial sale, then start chasing other prospects and in the process forget about their current customer…ignore may be the case as well…or they just get complacent. Gaining a new customer only begins when someone makes that initial purchase decision because there’s this thing called “buyer’s remorse.” To make sure that future referrals and repeat business materialize from this customer, it’s important to make sure that your customers’ fears are put to rest, and that you demonstrate by your actions that you really care and that they’ve made the right decision to deal with you. This can be accomplished by putting a plan in place to communicate with them, and sell to them again and again, constantly proving that your company was the right choice.
Build engaging relationships
With CRM programs all the rage, coupled with Big Data and predictive analytics providing marketers with in depth customer insights, the key to engagement is through personalization. In fact, as consumers ourselves, we expect and demand that companies personalize messaging and offers so they’re relevant to our wants and needs. You can do this by providing clients with offers that are personalized to them. Send them offers and information/content that they’ll like at the right time based on when they might need the product. Do some A/B testing in order to see what catches the attention of your customers. And, even recommend products to them. Offers, timing and product recommendations all show that you know and care about your clients.
Share useful content/information
Customers buy from people. They buy based on trust. Building trust with new customers is the key to getting them to buy in the first place. And maintaining and strengthening that trust is the key to keeping your customer over the long term, improving customer retention. In today’s marketplace, it’s not enough to have a wonderful product or service, you also have to help educate your customers on how they can use your product or service better. Content must abide by three criteria: it must be expected, valuable and relevant.
Going back to your own personal experience for a minute, what is your impression of a company that, out-of-blue, gives you something you could use….for no cost. Not as an incentive or ulterior motive to purchase or do something else, but rather “just because.” It probably left you feeling good about the company, maybe even made you happy. Using the element of surprise to your advantage is a good thing because people naturally remember when something surprised them in a good way. You see, winning customers over starts with winning their thanks on individual terms. And while technology allows you to offer up this surprise to whatever scale you want, the fact is people remember acts of kindness when it feels personal.
Provide Exemplary Customer Service
When it comes to retaining customers, nothing’s more important than hands-on customer service. So let’s address a few different ways that customer service plays itself out. Critical to this is making sure that interactions that you have with the customer are quality interactions. Think about it: when you’re the customer, you expect the company that you’re dealing with to be courteous, willing and helpful, right? Also, make sure you’re dealing in the communications mode that your customer prefers. Although the majority of people prefer email, some like receiving calls or connections through social media channels. On that note, being proactive, or anticipating what the customer might need or addressing problems before they happen is always better than the alternative. This could be as simple as calling and asking if everything is OK before the client calls you to say something is not. Or letting them know that the product they recently bought is being redesigned and will look different or is going to be sold in bulk versus single-product purchases. And lastly, there’s nothing like hearing from the customers themselves. Some sort of a feedback system, such as a survey or speaking directly with your loyal customers, shows them that you really care about their recent experience with your company and will help identify any issues to address.
Regardless of what you’re selling, your long-term profitability is largely dependent upon your ability to keep current customers, compared to acquiring new ones. While you must always try things to attract new customers to your business, don’t take for granted those who are already in your camp and are supporting your business. Don’t forget, every now and then, to “dance with dem dat brung ya.”
Rolf Gutknecht is vice president, director of account services for LA ads. To discuss your thoughts with Rolf on this blog or any marketing matters, email via this link, or visit www.LAadsMarketing.com. You can also connect with Rolf on LinkedIn.