As you are probably aware, it is exceedingly more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to retain an existing one; and, a small decrease in churn translates into a large increase in profits. If you want a long-term relationship with your customers, forget about self-help books and couples counseling! Make these practices an integral part of your business plan:
1. Find the right match
Needless to say, retention starts with the quality of your sale. Thoroughly research and analyze your marketplace, and use that information to strategically identify your ideal customer, unique selling proposition, and pricing, packaging, and placement approach. Your sales are much more likely to stick when you plan, target and implement your acquisition efforts accordingly.
2. Don’t make promises you can’t keep
It is far better to undersell and surprise than to oversell and disappoint! Avoid misleading hype—both in marketing tactics and by your sales and customer service teams. Be honest about the services and features you provide and—importantly—communicate the benefits the consumer will derive from them. Always deliver on your value proposition and brand promise.
3. Nurture your relationship
A long, happy relationship requires ongoing communications that educate the customer about your product and services, demonstrate value, and show your appreciation for the customer. Start with a welcoming onboarding campaign and have a continuous presence with tactics such as monthly emails and regular blogs and social media posts. Include usage tricks and tips, key events and upcoming highlights. Education drives usage; usage drives value; and value drives loyalty.
4. Seek interaction and feedback
One of the best ways to minimize churn is to know what your customers are thinking and take appropriate corrective action steps… while they are still customers! Tactics like surveys at the end of each customer call and annual “how are we doing” surveys, a chat feature on your website, and paying keen attention to consumer posts on social media are tremendously useful—provided you study them for trends and act on those trends. Spread the word about those things that receive raves… and take action to fix the problems. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to solve all the problems on your own—they could range from pricing to quality and service issues. However as marketers, it is your duty to identify issues and work with the appropriate internal teams to find solutions that are a win/win for both your customers and your company.
5. Show appreciation
We all like to feel special… and we tend to like those that make us feel special! Similarly, demonstrating appreciation for your customer goes a long way in maintaining their loyalty. If you don’t have a loyalty program in place… seriously consider it. Although elaborate programs that, for example, provide points for purchases can generate a positive return on your investment, there are many simple and inexpensive ways to let your customers know you value them.
To name just a few: send digital and/or print thank you notes for providing feedback, upgrading and/or being a customer for a certain number of years; partner with another entity to provide discounts at retailers or entertainment venues; give your high-value customers periodic added-value surprises like an On Demand movie discount, special offers, or “VIP” access a special event; send apology notes to customers that express complaints… including the steps you took to resolve the issue, and possibly a one-time credit or discount.
Demonstrating appreciation for your customers also increases the likelihood they’ll spread good word about you to their friends and family and on social media sites. That word-of-mouth advertising is priceless! Add in a refer-a-friend program, and you’ll strengthen your customer bond while making easy sales!
6. Provide exceptional customer service
How often have you refused to go back to a business that treated you badly? And how many people do you tell about your bad experiences? Ah, now with social media you can vent to hundreds, thousands or millions with just one simple tweet! The message here is that customer service is extremely important to your business. Be sure your customers have excellent experiences at every touch point—no long wait times on the phone or multiple prompts before they can speak to representative; no rude or uninformed customer service representatives; no websites that are hard to navigate or don’t have a chat option; no showing up hours late for an appointment and getting dirt on the customers rug, etc. When there is a problem, own up to it and take corrective action steps immediately to appease the customer. Optimum customer service needs to be a company-wide priority. Be sure all departments and employees are on board and exceed expectations!
7. Get personal
We don’t all share the same passions, communicate in the same fashion, appreciate the same products and features, or share the same demographics. Say a person’s name and they perk up immediately. Give them suggestions that match their lifestyle, interests and needs, and they’re more likely to take your advice… and be open to upsell opportunities—increasing their lifetime customer value.
Over to you! Please share your retention strategies, tips, tricks or challenges. We’d love to hear from you.