Customer Retention as a Survival Strategy?
Customer retention, often measured in repeat purchases, plays a massive role in driving profits for any business. In these difficult times it has never been more important to keep hold of your valuable and loyal customers.
Businesses that excel in customer retention are usually positioned for long-term success and possess a far greater competitive edge over their competitors. So how do businesses master the art of customer retention? Though there are other contributing factors to high customer retention, the most effective one probably belongs to superior customer service.
Customer service is designed to create a positive customer experience in order to increase customer loyalty and ultimately, long-term customer retention.
Customer service is more than a worthwhile investment, so:
1. Pay Attention to Complaints and Compliments
The US National Transportation Safety Board offers an approach that every business can learn from. The NTSB takes every accident very seriously, ensuring that the same incident should never occur again. Work that same policy into your business, taking every customer complaint very seriously, ensuring that your business will never have to deal with the same complaint twice.
Use customer complaints to bring about new ideas and ways to improve your product or service. Use the same approach for customer compliments too, using compliments as a point of reinforcement for what your company is already doing right.
2. Just Ask Them!
There isn’t a simpler method of retaining customers then just asking customers what exactly is it they seek from your business and how they want it given to them. Whether you ask them via a printed survey, an online survey, over the phone, in person, or via email, it is crucial that you just ask them. You’d be surprised at the detailed response you’ll receive, sometimes saving you the trouble of spending extra on expensive market research. Consider conducting a focus group with your customers. With a customer focus group, you have the opportunity to tap into their collective needs and wants and reward them for their time with discounts on their next purchase, or anything that will demonstrate your sincere appreciation.
3. Up Your Service With A Loyalty Program
Loyalty programs used efficaciously by businesses such as the airlines industry are extremely effective for outstanding customer retention. Starbucks is another company that ties customer service in with a loyalty program that keeps its customers coming back for more. A variation of a loyalty program can be in the form of offering specialty discounts for customers in your database sent via email.
4. Service with a Smile
Not every business owner believes that “the customer is always right,” or that the “the customer is king” and they’re quite right to believe so. But, in situations where customers are distraught and tend to seek attention through emotional outbursts, it pays to keep calm and take control of the situation by appeasing the customer with a smile and doing everything possible to pander to the customer’s frustrations. It may seem over the top, but this approach will reflect positively on your business and an end-result will be outstanding customer retention.
5. Be a Solution Provider
Customers are a savvy lot and they can usually sense a sales pitch approaching miles away. Though they love buying, customers hate to be sold to. Instead, adopt the approach of being a solution provider, showing that you sincerely care about their needs. Lend a listening ear to your customers and let them know that you’re not after their wallets, but instead collaborating with them to help get what they want in a way that will benefit both parties. This approach works almost all the time and is the secret sauce for high customer retention.
6. Be a Value Provider
Companies are always harping about providing value to customers, but very few of them actually understand what it means. Providing value to customers simply means giving first and receiving second. Giving first could be as easy as offering a free email newsletter filled with juicy tips that other companies would have charged a premium for. It’s a great way of differentiating yourself from your competitors and at the same time, providing great value for free to your customers.
7. Make Your Service Memorable
Customers usually become fans of your business when they remember something remarkable you did for them. This usually happens when customers have a problem with something they bought from you and need to be fixed. The easier you make it for them to get it fixed and solve their problems, the more satisfied customers become. It could even be as simple as providing human support within three rings of a customer calling instead of sending them to voicemail and a maze of phone menus.
These seven customer service tips are some of the easiest ways to impress and retain your customers, often for life. But, don’t take my word for it. Put it into practice and you can determine for yourself, if your customer service is working by the number of repeat buyers appearing in your database.