As customers become more empowered with their selection process of new goods and services, it is imperative that businesses work harder to retain the customers they have. The cost to attract new customers continues to increase, making it harder to grow business profitably without a steady base of loyal customers. The customer experience leaders have long held that it is more expensive to attract a new customer than it is to retain an existing one–four to 25 times more expensive–depending on the source and industry.[i] This principle of customer loyalty is referred to as the Net Promoter Score®[ii]movement. Giving your customers incentive to stay is the key to retention, but how do you do that in such a competitive environment?
Listen to your customers’ needs:
Take the time to know your customers. Who are they and what do they really want? Ask simple and pointed questions to get to the root of understanding their needs and wants, what is 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 article presented by Survey Monkey.[iii]
Act on the data you gather:
Change when change is needed, 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 (e.g., discount, promo item, etc.) to acknowledge those who take the time to provide feedback. Furthermore, provide an array of methods to ask questions and resolve issues. These options should include human interaction (phone or chat) and self-help (IVR, Web or social). Connecting with your customers and addressing their needs 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 effortless and personalized. Customers can sense scripted pitches and checklists, and they are more likely to make a connection with a real person than a script. 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 understand how they use your product or service, or identify opportunities to educate them on how to get the most out of the product or service 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. Over-solicitation of new offerings that don’t fit their needs could push them to a competitor. A great example of this is the migration of users from MySpace to Facebook[iv] after a change in the site design to make advertising work in social media.
It is 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 prevents customer perception that there is something better out there. As new offers or solutions become available, enable your front-line to articulate the differences and/or provide counter offers to align with the perceived value of competitive products. By being agile in the face of market disruption, you can avoid the fate of once iconic brands no longer in existence.[v]
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 EGS today.
[ii] Net Promoter, Net Promoter Score, and NPS are trademarks of Satmetrix Systems, Inc., Bain & Company, Inc., and Fred Reichheld.