No matter the size of your company or what industry you are in, your business runs on customers. In order to be successful, one of the key aspects of your business strategy should be customer retention. Briefly, you need to be sure who are your customers, what do they want and are they getting it from your products/services. This can be easier said than done but in this post, we will try to shed more light on this complex topic. Therefore, here are some of the important elements of customer experience that we will be focusing on.
The most important aspect of your business is – your customers must always come first. That’s why it is vital for your company to ensure that you are applying the principle of “customers first” through all areas of your business. On the other hand, if you objectively put serious effort to provide unique customer experience, there will be no reason from your customer’s perspective to leave your products or services. Moreover, they will continue to use your product/services beyond this, they will suggest your product and services to other prospective customers. However, it seems that the sayings such as “customer comes first” or “the customer is always right” are widely used when talking about customer retention, but unfortunately, not so many companies are able to offer a precise explanation of them. So what does it actually mean to put the customer first?
When thinking about offering a product or a service the first thing that should cross your mind is who is the person to whom this product is being offered? Therefore, creating a customer profile, or as usually referred to as a customer persona, is needed. This means that you need to fully understand your customer – his age, sex, education, workplace, but also far more than that – what does he like and dislike, what are his hobbies and activities and so on. At the beginning of this process, you should start by asking yourself some general questions like these about your customers. Also, think about the fact is your customer an individual one, or maybe a company? The approach would be very different, so take the time to analyze all the important aspects before proceeding further.
Someone who understood the meaning of customer retention in a true sense of the word is definitely the Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. He’s known for saying, “Start with the customer and work backward” and he literally did it. During their meetings, there always used to be an empty chair that represented the customer. In that way, the employees were always reminded who is their main focus. Nowadays, Amazon has employees trained to represent the customer’s opinions and concerns.
By having a clear idea for whom you are creating the product or service will spear your company wasting time and money, and at the same time, you are in a great path in conducting the strategy that customer retention requires.
Listen To Your Customers
The only way to know your customer’s needs and wishes is by listening. It may seem quite simple, however, it is one of the essential steps when it is time to succeed in providing the best customer experience. This can appear as a very passive process, but it will lead you to active and visible improvements. Listening to both good and bad feedback from them will give you a better idea of what really matters to them. Besides that, you will have a clear view of the weaknesses and strengths of your business, which is crucial when it is time to revamp your business’s weak sides.
Alternatively, you can keep staying informed with various channels including emails, call centers or social media – it is the best approach in order to drive customer experience culture.
When some problem arises, let your customer explain the situation and ask the right questions. This approach has an interesting name – “The 5 Whys”. Instead of superficially dealing with the problem and asking some wage, general questions, this approach requires that the customer support continues to ask why a certain situation arose to better shed light on the processes that could potentially be a problem. The researchers came to the conclusion that asking around 5 questions is usually enough to come to the core of the problem, so that is how this approach got named.
All these steps are very important in terms of customer retention, but at the same time, most of the companies don’t pay so much attention to them.
On the other hand, listening to customers can be a double edge sword. More often than you think you will be faced with a situation where the customers actually don’t know what they want until you show them. What a better way to describe it than to quote the pioneer of the automobile industry, Henry Ford – “If I had asked what people wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
Provide Strong Customer Support
Putting the customers first also means that you need to offer them transparency. Put yourself in their shoes – would you buy something that is not explained enough, which price is shady, etc.? Probably not. Always offer your customers transparency and needed help. If you are offering a product or service for which you would need customer support – provide it. No matter how famous you are with the quality of your products or services, if your customer service is not good enough from your customer’s perspective, you will never be able to retain customers. A company with excellent customer service is more likely ready to get great benefits with greater sales or profits. On the other side, companies with poor customer service may lose customers, which will have a negative impact on business. It is not possible to address every customer need at every moment, but then you need to provide them a valid reason. Customers want to know that they’ve been heard and that their requests are taken into consideration. As one of the studies done at Harvard demonstrates, customers tend to be more patient when they know that someone is taking care of their request, or at least to have that appearance. That is called labor illusion and by doing so, customers will be more at ease and willing to wait for the obstacles to be overcome.
The golden rule of customer retention is loyalty. But first, you need to give your customers reasons to stay loyal to you rather than your competitors. This requires huge efforts from a company’s perspective. Basically, any unique offer can be enough to attract your customers. For instance, offer them something that is only available for premium customers, send them promotions on special occasions and so on. Briefly, make them feel special by offering some perks for being loyal. According to the research customers who become loyal tend to spend 67% more than the new customers. Therefore, you need to put a lot of effort into different aspects – frequently communicate with customers to get a better insight into their needs, consider different payment plans if your business is seasonal, offering a head start, etc.
One of the proven ways to build a loyal customer is by making them feel special. For instance, you can pay attention to remember special occasions, such as their birthday or anniversary. If you come across an article that is somehow related to your client, you can always pass that information to them, or write them from time to time some personal note.
Applying these 4 tips can make a positive influence on your business, but you need to be willing to invest a lot of time and effort in order to see the benefits. For us in Price2Spy the main focus over these 11 years has been building trust with our clients. That has not been an easy task due to the nature of our business. Clients are often skeptical about the legal aspects of price monitoring, or will the competitors know that they are monitored, etc. Even though it was sometimes a bumpy road, today we are proud to say that our Price2Spy family consists of more than 650 clients from all sorts of industries, where some of them have been with us since the very beginning. Therefore, bear in mind that the customer retention is not a one-time effort, it is an ongoing process in which each member of your team should be includeed.
What are your thoughts regarding customer retention? We love hearing your feedback. So, be sure to leave a comment below!