By Joshua Cichuniec
Having dealt with many customers over the years, some great and some I would have liked to slap across the face, living by the mantra that “the costumer is always right” has no place in a successful customer retention program. Since customers ultimately become your unpaid marketing force, it’s a good idea to have an effective customer retention program. Below are simple tips that good customer retention programs should have:
Focus on the customers who add or can add value to your business — you can’t please everyone. It is best to understand this tip as soon as possible. I’ve worked with managers who thought they could; consequently, they often times had their entire staff running in circles to please people who had absolutely no effect on the success of the business. Focus on the customers who add or can add value to your business.
Develop a plan to handle unhappy costumers — don’t argue with a costumer, EVER! Fighting fire with fire will not diffuse a situation, but only make matters worse. Let the customer vent, politely and professionally handle the situation, and move on. Don’t take it personally. It’s good to develop thick skin because, no matter what line of business you’re in, not all costumers will be warm and fuzzy. I’ve found it equally important to train my staff to do the same.
Engage customers as individuals — Alex Lawrance, an entrepreneur and contributor to Forbes.com makes a great point about not just connecting with customers via Facebook or Twitter, but making sure you’re routinely engaging them and going as far as sending personal cards during holidays and on other such occasions. It seems Facebook users or Twitter followers fall into the trap of making it a single goal to gain as many friends on their page as possible. Falling into this trap seems to result in having nearly no interaction with one-half to two-thirds of their “friends” after the initial acquisition of their allegiance.
Remind your staff the importance of costumer retention — I like to post simple quotes around the office to help remind my staff of the importance of the value our customers bring to our business. Some examples include:
“It takes years to win a customer and only seconds to lose one.” — Catherine DeVrye
“Attracting new customers will cost your company 5 times more than keeping an existing customer.” — Lee Resource Inc.
“A 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75%.” — Bain and Co
Challenge your staff to create more value for the customer — Each month, I make a point to discuss with my staff the value we create for our customers. We discuss the price that we offer our product at, where each of us would go with that same amount of money if we had it to spend, and the service or value we would expect. I feel this helps put the work we produce each day into perspective and acts as a benchmark for what each of us can change to increase the value we create. If your customers feel they're getting more for their money, the likelihood of them returning or offering a positive sales pitch on your behalf to your future customers is high.