As customers become more empowered to select goods and services that fit best into their lifestyle, it is imperative that businesses work harder to retain the customers they have. The cost of attracting new customers continues to increase, making it harder to grow business profitably without a steady base of loyal customers. It’s widely understood that it is more expensive to attract a new customer than it is to retain an existing one—4 to 25 times more expensive—depending on the source1 and industry. This principle of customer loyalty is referred to as the Net Promoter Score® movement.
So, we know that giving customers incentives to stay is the key to retention. But how do you do that in such a competitive environment?
Let’s break it down, shall we?
Listen to your customers’ needs
Take the time to know your customers—really know them. Who are they? What do they really want? Ask simple and pointed questions to get to the root of understanding their desires, what’s working and what isn’t, and how they feel about their current service delivery. This can be accomplished through email surveys, phone marketing, exit interviews or by proactively monitoring social media and online customer forums. For tips on surveying your customers, read this informative article2 presented by Survey Monkey.
Act on the data you gather
Change when change is called for and adapt your business to accommodate the customers you serve. Tailor your support structure and offerings based on their feedback. Let your customers know you heard them. Provide alternative solutions where known issues exist. Proactively offer something (a discount, promo item, etc.) to acknowledge those who take the time to provide feedback. Furthermore, it’s important to offer an array of methods to receive feedback—options should include human interaction (phone or chat) and self-help (IVR, web or social). It’s your willingness and ability to connect with your customers and address their needs that will increase their likelihood of staying satisfied longer—which directly impacts your ability to retain and grow your market share.
Respect your customers’ time
Each interaction you have with your customers should be natural, organic and personalized. Customers can sense scripted pitches and checklists, and they are more likely to respond positively to a real person than a script. Keep in mind that a captive audience is not necessarily the most appropriate opportunity to sell. Listen and take action to resolve customers’ needs first so they feel valued. Build trust and rapport—explain what you can and will do each step of the way. Ask questions to uncover how they use your product or service, and identify opportunities to educate them on how to get the most out of it going forward. Once you confirm their needs are met and thank them for their business, let them get on with their day. Respecting their time makes them feel appreciated. Conversely, over-solicitation of new offerings that don’t fit their needs could push them to a competitor. To illustrate this point, read about the migration of users from MySpace to Facebook3 after a change in the site design to make advertising work in social media.
It hardly needs to be said (but we’re going to say it anyway)—it’s absolutely critical to understand your customers and your competition. The marketplace is constantly changing, and what customers see and experience elsewhere sets the bar for their expectations. Keeping pace with the market will help prevent customers from perceiving that there is something better out there. As new offers or solutions become available, be sure to enable your frontline to articulate the differences and/or provide counter offers to align with the perceived value of competitive products. Being agile in the face of market disruption will help you avoid the fate of once iconic brands4 no longer in existence.
So let’s sum it up. To reduce costly customer churn, the key is to stay focused on and connected with the customers you have, listen and adapt to their feedback, respect their time and ensure your offers and solutions are competitively relevant. For help getting started, or for a more in-depth review of customer experience best practices, contact Alorica today.