You put a lot of time and effort into acquiring your customers or clients. You developed a product or service, you identified ways of getting it in front of those who would potentially buy it. Your hard work and efforts paid off; you sold your goods or services.
As time goes along you increase your sale. You develop new customers and new markets for what you have to offer. As a result of your success, you broaden your offerings with new products and new services. You feel good about what you have done.
At the end of a month, you look at your business, preparing for the next month. You notice that your Gross Sales are down. You walk over to your head of sales and ask why. Your Sales Manager explains that they are selling a lot, so you begin to dig deeper. Your next stop is your Manager for Customer Service and Retention. They inform you that they are on target for upselling value added parts to the products and services that are being sold. Knowing that you haven’t answered the problem, you go back to your office and dig some more. As you review your sales you notice something. You aren’t getting enough repeat business.
Talking again with your Manager of Customer Service and Retention you ask more pointed questions. As you review the goals for this functional area of your business with them you discover that in fact, your new customers are not staying as customers. The Customer retention piece is failing in achieving its goals; you are losing existing customers faster than you can acquire new ones.
There are several things that can cause this to happen and you need to look closely at them to identify what is not happening and why. After that, you must identify how you will fix that.
Success with Customer Retention is based on two primary things. It requires your company to continue to meet the needs of your buyers. You must meet those requirements that your customers consider necessary and you must also be doing those things that help your customer be successful. Most companies do the former; few do the latter. In order to accomplish both, you have to think like your customer. You have to know how they feel about you and the relationship you have with them. For example:
Why do they buy from you and not someone else?
What do they like and dislike about your company, its products, and its services?
How does your company help them be better, more profitable or more successful?
The first thing you have to determine is whether or not your Customer Care is even knowledgeable of that information. Are they making a sincere effort to inquire of your existing customers to learn that information, or, are they just calling to see how things are going and asking for a reorder?
Ignore your customers and they will go away
All customers have standards that are not negotiable to them. If you meet them great. If you do not meet them you have to find out or you will lose that customer. The simple solution is to ask. Call the customer and ask them…”what is so important to you that if it was not delivered it would cause us to lose your business?” The question itself is not hard, asking it is more difficult. However, if you ask, it puts you ahead of your competition.
The customer could tell you many things. Examples are
Does it do what you say it is going to do…every time
Does it or your company meet their moral and ethical values
Is your company responsive if something goes wrong
Regardless of what they tell you, you have to know and if you value them as customers you have to meet these standards. If you don’t, or you simply ignore them, you will lose the customer.
An example of a business that did not meet these standards for their customers involved a service company. When a Customer began to ask hard questions the business began to ignore them. What further compounded the problem was the business began to share their concerns about these questioning customers with other customers. In short, they engaged in inappropriate gossip. Sadly it did not end there. As existing customers began to be troubled by this conduct the business started promising things that could not be delivered. It went as far as suggesting that these newly concerned customers could realize increased profit and success if they just stuck with this service provider, promising services that did not exist.
Ultimately it began to fall apart rapidly and this service provider lost everything. It took years for them to recover and I was glad we could help them do that. None of this ever had to happen if the Business had first discovered those things most important to the customer and simply delivered them. Instead, the business and reputations were lost.
Be as loyal to your customers as you want them to be loyal to you. This simple sharing of commitment can make all of the difference between success or failure for your business.