For any business that provides a product or service to customers, the act of finding, targeting and obtaining new customers is always going to be among its top priorities.
But what many businesses tend to forget is that once a customer makes the first purchase, there is much more to be done in the customer relationship. Smart businesses know that the first purchase is really just the beginning, and that the real business value lies in retaining that customer.
Since we here at NGDATA specialize in customer experience management and customer retention solutions for businesses who are constantly trying to better understand their customers’ needs, we wanted to learn more about customer retention. We specifically wanted to discover expert tips from customer retention experts on what businesses can do to foster lasting customer relationships. To do this, we asked 46 customer retention experts to answer this question:
“What’s the #1 way organizations can improve customer retention?”
We’ve collected and compiled their expert advice into this comprehensive guide on expert tips and best strategies for improving customer retention. See what our experts said below:
Meet Our Panel of Customer Relationship Experts:
Joe Cecere is President and Chief Creative Officer at Little, which works with many leading retailers on issues related to creating loyal customers for companies like Target, Microsoft, Wells Fargo, Lowe’s, Sealy, and others using a platform they call Branding From The Inside Out ™.
To retain customers, retailers have to go beyond price and selection. What they need to do is…
Leverage their most under-utilized assets — their employee base. Passionate, engaged employees can deliver personal customer experiences that create customer loyalty.
Retailers can create that environment by developing a relevant and authentic employee brand that employees can connect with. The 2013 Gallup study about employee engagement describes a U.S. workforce with only 30% of employees engaged in their work, with active disengagement costing the American economy an estimated $450-550 billion per year.
More and more companies are looking to turn this tide and are taking advantage of their marketing resource closest to the customer – their employees – by giving their employees a reason to care, and clearly defining their mission and values and the role each employee plays in retaining their customer base.
Truly engaged workers – passionate brand advocates to all they meet – are inspired by where the company is headed and are compelled to share that passion with customers by delivering great customer service and interaction. This connects the company’s brand story from the inside out – from employees to consumers. When the brand experience is authentic and compelling at every touchpoint, you’ll create brand ambassadors within your own ranks that goes beyond 9-5.
Filiberto Amati is the Founder of Amati & Associates, an International Business Development Expert and a hands-on leader and change manager with 15 years of experience. He is also the author of, “Co-creation: Mystery Solved”, a book about marketing via co-creation.
The first step to increasing customer retention is to…
Understand and measure why your customers or clients are leaving in the first place.
You can’t solve a problem if you don’t understand to what extent it exists or why it exists. Once that information is understood, the strategy is simple and should really be threefold:
- Treat your customers/clients like people. The internet is a wonderful thing, but making an effort to relate to your clients/customers on a personal level is often the difference between a sustainable business and one that’s here today, gone tomorrow.
- Appreciate your clients/customers. Thank you notes, thank you gifts for onboarding new clients and/or discounts to your most loyal customers can speak volumes. Even something so simple as recognition on social media for your most loyal customers can be valuable.
- Welcome and ask for constructive feedback. Let your customers know that their voice is heard. Don’t wait for negative feedback to come to you, proactively reach out to your customers on a regular basis to find out what they like and what they think you can improve on.
Noelle Nelson is a Career and Workplace Expert and Author of “Make More Money By Making Your Employees Happy”.
In my experience, customer retention and loyalty can only be achieved when…
Organizations show strong employee loyalty.
Organizations that treat their employees with respect, give them the necessary tools to do their job and continually demonstrate that they are appreciated will see a workforce that will go the extra mile for the customers they serve. Unhappy, frustrated workers have little reason to put in the effort. Why should they? If employees don’t feel valued, work becomes drudgery and customers are seen as just part of the daily grind.
Simply put, an appreciated employee is a happy employee. And happy employees translate into happy customers and thus bigger profits for the company. The research shows this to be true:
A Jackson Organization (now HealthStream Research) study shows that companies that effectively appreciate employee value enjoy a return on equity and assets more than triple that experienced by firms that don’t.
Here are simple suggestions on how to keep employees happy and providing great customer service:
Acknowledging how your employees are doing something right is a far more successful path to work excellence, than pointing out what they are doing wrong. Psychology has long proven that people respond far better to positive feedback than to negative. By consistently letting your employees know what they are doing right, you keep employees on the right track since people are likely to repeat behaviors they have been praised for. This means less customer complaints and higher customer satisfaction.
Check in with your employees to make sure they have what they need to do their job successfully. Giving your employees the right resources (whether training, equipment) improves their ability to provide customers with the services they expect.
Zach Goldstein is the CEO and founder of Thanx, which enables merchants to effortlessly identify, engage and retain their best customers. Before founding Thanx, Zach worked for Bain & Company, where he helped leading retail and technology companies improve customer retention.
The best way way organizations can improve customer retention is…
To foster better relationships with their customers by creating loyalty programs that provide two benefits:
- a frictionless user experience, and
- actionable insights for three transaction criteria: recency, frequency, and value.
Reducing friction is imperative. Faster throughput translates into real revenue. Merchants lose customers who have to go through several steps at checkout in the hope of having a better experience. Enterprises designing loyalty programs should use Apple Pay as a roadmap, as speedier checkout drives strong consumer adoption. Focus on eliminating every checkout hurdle you can, from check-ins to extra plastic cards and additional 2D code scans. Without consumer participation, retention programs don’t work – regardless of the intelligence data available.
With regard to insights, companies get distracted focusing on how to get more and more data. In reality, exceptional personalization and retention marketing thrives by avoiding the noise created by so-called “Level 3” insights. Starbucks, for example, has designed one of the most widely successful retention schemes in the country. Customers receive incentives based on their visit frequency and lifetime value, not whether they bought a Venti Mocha Frappuccino or simple house blend.
Chip Bell is a Senior Partner with the Chip Bell Group and has served as a keynote speaker, consultant, and trainer to many Fortune 100 organizations. He has authored seven national best-selling books, including his newest book, “The 9 1/2 Principles of Innovative Service”. His work on customer loyalty and service innovation has been featured in Fortune, Businessweek, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fast Company, Inc. Magazine, USA Today and Entrepreneur.
The number one strategy to improve customer retention is…
Finding new and unique ways to create a partnership with customers. People will care when they share. Help customers put skin in the game by:
- Involving them in the design and delivery of service
- Soliciting their ideas and suggestions
- Begging for feedback on ways to improve their experience
- Create forums for customer participation (like boards of customers, customer advisory teams, VOC initiatives)
- Spend time with customers on their turf or neutral turf (like Harley’s HOG—Harley Owners Group)
- Crafting chat rooms aimed at beta testing, experimenting, piloting products and services with customers.
- Invite customers to company functions—picnics, meetings, social outings, etc.
Paula Tompkins is the CEO of ChannelNet, a leader in delivering customer acquisition, retention and conquest services, and is an acknowledged pioneer in using personal technology to facilitate multichannel marketing and sales. In the last 30 years, she has helped hundreds of the world’s leading companies use technology to sell their products and build customer relationships. Her company specializes in digital customer acquisition, retention and conquest services.
The number one strategy for how to retain customers is…
Focus on the entire experience of their customers.
While experts debate whether the marketing funnel is outdated, it’s been proven that managing the entire experience of any age of customer is a better way to keep customers. The conversation cannot stop once the sale is made.. It is critical that companies focus on sending personal communications throughout the lifecycle of the customer. In today’s competitive environment, it is not enough to rely on service or repairs to hold on to customers.
For example, the welcome message is a critical — it is one of the single most important communications businesses can send. Customers are five times more likely to engage with you in the first 90-100 days than at any other point. So, it’s very important that you dialogue with them at the onset not just at the end.
Technology allows you to adopt a Customer Lifecycle Management (CLM) approach in a very cost-effective way. Personal customer microsites or creating personal URLs, or PURLs, are perfect for automating these types of communications. Using business rules, you can create relevant interactions by customizing the content for each customer. Companies that learn how to combine the power of the online world and their customer data to own the customer relationship have a much higher retention rate.
Today’s consumers are growing less responsive to mass marketing messages. Younger buyers are known for their skeptical and demanding attitude. Old-fashioned relationship building will never go out of style.
Noah Fleming is a Marketing Expert, Consultant and Author of “Evergreen: Cultivate the Enduring Customer Loyalty that Keeps Your Business Thriving“. Noah helps clients dramatically and rapidly increase sales, multiply profits, and maximize customer value. He is also an expert blogger for Fast Company Magazine, and a regular contributor to The Globe and Mail’s Report on Business Section. He has been routinely quoted and mentioned in publications like Forbes, The New York Times, Reuters, and more.
The single #1 technique that can improve retention is to…
Treat the act of keeping customers as important as it is to getting them!
In the marketing world, retention is boring and optimization (especially around acquiring new customers) is sexy. The problem, I think, is too many organizations have been overly-inspired by Alec Baldwin’s classic “Always Be Closing” speech in the film Glengarry Glen Ross. I don’t believe you“close” a sale—you “open” a relationship. The sales transaction is the start of the relationship, not the end. Organizations would improve retention if they simply banished the idea of “closing.”
Effective marketing is an equilibrium – it’s the equal balance of getting customers, and keeping them. If you only ever hear your sales and marketing teams talking about getting new customers, then they’re only doing half their jobs.
Shep Hyken, CSP, CPAE is the Chief Amazement Officer at Shepard Presentations, customer service expert, professional speaker and New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling business author. Shep works with companies who want to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees. He has been inducted into the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame for lifetime achievement in the speaking industry. Learn more about Shep and his work at www.hyken.com.
When it comes to increasing customer retention, companies should first understand what customer retention really is:
Customer retention is a byproduct of customer service and experience. Create a good experience, that’s consistent and predictable, and you have a shot at customer retention.
The root of retention and loyalty comes service, which actually starts at the top, with the leadership determining if they want a customer-focused culture. That culture is what drives the customer experience. The way leadership treats employees drives the customer experience. The way employees treat each other drives the customer experience. In short, what is happening on the inside of an organization is felt by the customers on the outside. It’s on the inside of the company where customer retention begins.
Meagan Rhodes is the Digital Marketing Lead of @Pay, a simple, secure email payment technology company that makes buying, paying & donating easier. Prior to joining @Pay, Meagan was Community Manager and Editor of 12th & Broad Magazine (Gannett), UGC Editor of The Tennessean newspaper (Gannett), and Production Manager of Nashville Arts Magazine and ArtNowNashville.com. She has served in leadership roles for many arts organizations & boards and has recently been recognized as a 2014 Nashville’s “30 Under 30” and as a 2014 “NELA (Nashville Emerging Leader Award) Finalist” by the Nashville Chamber of Commerce.
One strategy that can easily turn customers into repeat customers…
Offer a simple way to pay.
Too often, organizations will hyperlink to landing pages that then require you to fill out your billing and shipping information every time they purchase. Some require their customers to remember usernames and passwords or figure out annoying Captchas.
The easier it is to pay or donate, the more people will do it. Organizations will capture a new revenue because the people who abandoned their shopping cart at that last step will actually be able to experience a frictionless, quick payment process. Retain those impulse purchases!
For example, 39% of email recipients will read their email on a smartphone and then click through to the website. However, only 13% of those online transactions are actually completed (SeeWhy, 2013). They are dropping out at that final step.
Payment technologies such as @Pay, PayPal, Vento, or GoogleWallet are simplifying the purchasing experience. Make your customer’s life easier and they’ll keep coming back.
Patrick Freuler is the Founder and CEO of Audicus, a tech startup that aims to make hearing aids far more affordable, accessible and cooler. Prior to Audicus, Patrick spent several years as a strategy consultant at McKinsey and as a healthcare investor at Bain Capital. He has two engineering degrees from MIT.
The number one way organizations can improve customer retention is to…
Build the customer and not the sale.
For businesses who are trying to sell their product, it is important to make a customer feel like they care about them even after they purchase. This will make all the difference in building a strong and lasting relationship with that customer. Building strong relationships is the most important driver when it comes to customer retention rates. If customers feel like they are just a sale, they will go somewhere else without a second thought. If they feel that they have built a relationship with a business, they are more likely to come back a second and third time.
On the business side, it is important to keep detailed notes about your customers. If you have more than one person working on your customer service team and interacting with overlapping customers, they need to be able to communicate quickly and look at each-other’s notes. The worst thing you can do is lose a customer by not recognizing them as important.
If you make customers feel important and spend time building relationships with them, you will have high retention rates over an extended amount of time. If you like your customers and your customer like you back, this also means that they are more likely to recommend your business to their friends.
Gabriel Bristol is President and CEO of Intelicare Direct, a customer service solutions company with offices in Las Vegas and San Diego. He is widely recognized as one of today’s most talented call center CEOs, having led remarkable turnarounds for several large corporations as well as helping establish rapidly growing startups.
Getting customers to come back time and time again can be difficult, especially in a world of fierce competition and customer service stories being shared online. We live in a time where just providing a great product or service is usually not enough to keep them coming back. Here are a few ways companies can improve customer retention:
- Give great service. Customer retention is fickle when customer service is lacking. Make sure the customer is dealt with promptly, courteously and efficiently. Listen to their needs and meet them as efficiently as possible. Customers will remember this, but they will remember bad service even more.
- Be quick to resolve issues. Not every product works exactly right and sometimes paid services don¹t meet expectations. Accept that when the customer¹s expectations haven¹t been met, you must work hard to make sure the issues are resolved to their satisfaction. They will remember this and they will feel like their purchases are safe with you next time.
- Keep in touch. Gather contact data on your customers when you can, and keep it current. Reach out to them with special offers or new products and services, or just send them a birthday card. Use any excuse to keep your company in their minds.
- Reward loyalty. Everyone, once in a while, should treat a loyal customer with a free product or special discount just for being a loyal customer. You¹ll be surprised at the goodwill this will engender.
- Thank your customers. Chances are you have competitors in your category and that means your customers have options. The fact that they chose you, whether or not because of your pricing or reputation or convenience, is something that you appreciate, so show it. Thank them. Thank them every time for choosing you and let them know in words and deeds how important your business is to them, regardless of whether they¹re your smallest customer or your largest.
Jennifer Martin is a Business Coach and Founder of Zest Business Consulting and Conscious Business Owner Camps. She helps Business Owners understand how to build a thriving business and enjoy their lives in the process.
The best strategy for businesses to keep customers beyond their initial buy is to:
- serve people who are a good fit for what they have to offer, and
- to ENGAGE with them in deep, consistent, and meaningful ways.
I feel like ENGAGEMENT takes “exceptional customer service” to a deeper level. From the moment a potential customer walks into your business or visits your website you want them to feel like they’ve found their home.
You need to speak to your ideal clients in the language that they speak and treat them like a new friend you are interested in getting to know better.
In Marketing communications speak to them directly (using you). Welcome them by offering to share something of value ( a free download, first time buyers free shipping, a gift with purchase, etc.) with them ( just like you might invite a new friend to coffee and pick up the tab).
Get to know them. Ask questions to find out more about what they like and who they are.
Make them feel appreciated right from the start. Do whatever you can to let them know that you appreciate their business and that they, personally, are important to you. Thank them on their way in and their way out of your physical or virtual store.
Do what you do to the best of you capabilities (meaning offer your products or services with your signature style) and…
Follow up to make sure that your client’s experience landed well with them.(send surveys, follow up with a phone call, or or just ask them, and don’t forget to offer them a good reason to return)
Continue to offer them incentives to visit you again (this doesn’t necessarily mean you have to discount your products, free webinars, private shopping days, extended hours, etc).
Here’s the tricky part. You need to have some on-going way to stay connected when they don’t need you. Offer a “club” for past customers and send them e-mails or offer phone calls, texts, or postcards to keep them aware of new ways you can serve them. Give them the option of being connected with in the way that works best for them.
Treat each of your clients like they really are your friend, one you care about deeply and want to get to know better and you’ll master the Engagement that will keep you in their thoughts and keep them coming back for more.
Daryl Travis is CEO of Chicago-based market research and brand strategy firm, Brandtrust, and Author of “How Does It Make You Feel?: Why Emotion Wins the Battle of Brands”.
Customer responses are driven by emotional triggers, which are deeply rooted in the consumer’s nonconscious memory—beyond what conventional research techniques can reveal. So, one of the first steps in delivering a peak customer experience is…
Discovering what emotions your experience evokes.
Another key step in delivering a peak customer experience is building empathy for the customers you serve.
Getting senior leadership and other key stakeholders to “live” the experience can help your team understand what your customers experience in their day-to-day lives. It can truly shift the way you look at your business and spark fresh thinking that is rooted in empathy and an understanding of your customers.
Yet, customer experience is something that has to be personally internalized. It must be “caught not taught.” Leaders who want to change the way people think or behave must recognize, encourage and deepen their team’s insights through collaboration that creates shared vision and values.
Brian Carter is a 15-year digital marketing veteran and popular social media speaker (with clients like NBC, Microsoft and PrideStaff) who delivers practical takeaways, entertainment and motivation. His company, Brian Carter Group, is a boutique agency with world-class expertise using digital/social marketing and advertising to boost profits for growth-minded businesses.
When it comes to the best way an organization can improve customer retention, the cliche would be: deliver great service. But more helpful is…
Continue to evolve your offerings with your customers’s progress.
Do you have a next step for them when they’re done with what you’re helping them with now? Do you have another upsell? How else can you help them?
Develop more products and services and show them how they can go further. This works with both B2B and B2C- in B2B it’s about taking them to the next level of achievement. In B2C it’s about furthering or deepening the experience. In both cases, ask yourself and your customers “Where are you headed? What are you getting out of this? How could you go even further?”
Marian J. Thier is an executive coach, consultant, author and the Founder of Listening Impact(R) LLC and President of Expanding Thought(R), Inc. Marian coaches leaders and teams to maximize their potential, and she offers concrete tools to try on and adapt, helps people become observers of their own leadership, and holds a safe space for growth.
The #1 way an organization can retain customers is to…
Listening to their needs.
Billions of dollars are lost yearly from poor listening, including in customer defection. We assess people’s listening habits and our data show that, while employees say they listen to customers, they do not. Instead they project the way they listen, what they care about, their knowledge, and their products/services onto customers, assuming that will fulfill customer needs and expectations. When we work with organizations to embrace and practice becoming a listening culture, customers stay.
Domenick Cilea is President and Founder of Springboard. Springboaerd has been handling high-level PR and marketing campaigns for all kinds of businesses since 1995.
My top customer retention strategy is to…
Stay in front of the customer on a regular basis.
Every business has their own unique interaction with customers. Some have daily transactions, such as a coffee shop, while others connect on a monthly (mobile phone service) or annual basis (accountant).
Within the cadence of interfacing with customers, there are opportunities to connect and offer a touch point. Marketing automation tools allow you to educate or inform customers or provide discounts towards other products and services. Developing a program that acknowledges customers during and after transactions as well as touches them on a regular basis enables organizations to stay in front of customers and remain top of mind.
Corey Barnett is the Founder and Internet Marketing Consultant of Cleverly Engaged Marketing. C.E.M. works with small and medium sized businesses in pleasing customers, standing out from competition and getting visible online.
The #1 way an organization can improve customer retention is to…
Too often, I work with clients that chase the tactics of their competition. Very few companies actually stop and listen to their customers, respond to what they want and go beyond what they expect.
Companies can begin by putting into practice, a process of asking for feedback, asking customers for candid reviews and basing important decisions on customer feedback. Communicating these insights back to customers gains trust and often involves social media and email marketing.
When customers know an organization cares about them, values them and is improving because of them, they will return.
David Niu is a Passionate Seriel Entrepreneur, Angel Investor, and the Founder of TINYhr, an HR software company that helps increase employee engagement. TINYhr is the the parent company of TINYpulse and CLIENTpulse, a customer engagement software.
The #1 way organizations can improve customer retention is by…
Keeping a “pulse” on their satisfaction with the company’s service.
A happy customer drives a successful company, and many times, companies don’t take the time to really understand how their customers feel. Before they know it, the customer went to a competitor and companies are left wondering why. A happy customer leads to a loyal customer and every customer just wants to be heard.
Amanda Smith is a Client Services Associate at Chelsea Technologies. She has nearly 10 years of experience in the customer service field and is an expert in client relationships.
There are many obvious aspects that factor into client retention. It’s almost effortless to quickly make a list: Build rapport and trust, provide excellent customer service, and create open and honest communication between your company and your client. These examples are easy to do when everything is running smoothly. But it’s the time when the business relationship is not at its best when you can use the situation to your advantage. One area that is often overlooked when thinking about client retention is…
Turning difficult situations into opportunities to earn your client’s trust.
When a client is frustrated or upset, it is a great time to show your dedication towards working with them to remediate the situation. Use this time to consistently follow up with them; meet with them in person, provide detailed status updates as your company works through the problem, and listen to them as they voice their opinions. Go above and beyond for them to show how much you value the relationship.
Sometimes, it’s not easy to gauge when a client is silently dissatisfied with your service. Strategically use Customer Satisfaction Surveys. If a client leaves less than stellar feedback, schedule a meeting or with them or take them to lunch. Ask your customer for ways you can improve your relationship and work together on achieving those goals.
Once the situation is resolved, make sure you continue to regularly go above and beyond for your client. Be proactive in the type of service you provide to avoid difficult situations in the future. When you and your client make it through a difficult situation together, it will increase their trust in your company. Most importantly, reflect on the situation and work with your client to build a positive, productive working relationship which will lead to client retention.
Maciej (ma-chi) Fita is the Managing Director of Brandignity, A Florida based internet marketing company offering web branding services including search engine optimization and social media marketing.
When it comes to the best strategies to improve customer retention, I think it really comes down to…
Staying on their radar post transaction.
Too many business will make a sale only to never be heard of ever again. You need to collect customer data and stay in contact. Send along coupons to get them to come back, email company newsletters so they remember they purchased from you. It’s all about creating touch points once that customers receives their product or service. Give them a reason to want to come back.
Jim Angleton is the CEO and President of AegisFS, a multi-dimensional financial advising firm.
In today’s world, the returning business patronage is paramount to the success of businesses. Customers are looking for best practices, best prices, best return policies and ease of sales. We have noticed that the eCatalogs, online purchases, and in-store sales are still very strong. For companies looking to improve customer retention, we recommend…
Adding several key business and customer retention policies in order to maintain marketshare, using the word-of-mouth marketing methodology and rewarding the customer for being a loyal customer to your business.
Below are proven suggestions:
- Offer a Rewards Card to every Customer. Make them go to your website and activate the card. A time of application for the activation of your card you will receive valuable data: 1. Obtain name, 2. Cell phone number, 3. Email address 4. Optional physical address. With the following information you can direct market and email or text message your customer with an ever ties sales and/or keep your name out there so that they can identify with your company when in time of need of a specific service or product.
- As a part of your rewards program, we suggest you offer a 5 to 10% discount at the register while using the rewards card. Reward cards and loyalty cards offer a upgrade or eight upsell of service or product once they reach a specific percentage or number of times visiting your business. Or you can utilize point structuring based on the dollar amount that they spend in your store. This offers great tracking, uptick of sales year to year and then allows you to tweak it either add or subtract services towards your rewards policy program.
- It has been proven that creating a co-branded logo plastic reward card is a tangible item that the loyal consumer can bring out a time of sale swiping the information into your computer base register system and track their sales plus habits of items that we can perhaps seat for the future to market them.
- The educated consumer is all about finding best price, ease of service. We noticed that online sales are huge and if you offer either free delivery or wrapping services it is enough of a perk to stimulate added sales.
Bettina Seidman is an experienced career management coach and consultant and in 1990 founded her own firm, SEIDBET Associates, offering customized career counseling, professional coaching, and outplacement consulting services to individuals and groups in corporate and nonprofit organizations.
The #1 way organizations can improve customer retention is to…
Stop telling customers what’s good for them — and LISTEN TO THEIR NEEDS.
Don MacLennan is CEO and Co-Founder of Bluenose, a customer success platform that empowers SaaS businesses to proactively manage their customers. Don is passionate about analytics and insights that lead to great products. He has held leadership roles in several subscription-based businesses, where he came to understand the importance of customer engagement and loyalty. He started Bluenose with the desire to help other vendors build great products and delight their customers.
The best way to improve customer retention is…
To be proactive about the way you manage customers.
You can do this by utilizing all the data you have to get a better understanding of your customers’ needs and wants. For example, if you’re a SaaS business and you know that customers are constantly getting stuck at a certain point, you can create triggers that will automatically send them messages to walk through that issue. Ultimately, you’ll incorporate that feedback into the product to make sure customers don’t get stuck. SaaS is different because almost all the interactions are digital and measurable but the principals of being empathetic to your customers’ needs remain the same, no matter what business you’re in.
Irasema G. Jeffers is the Owner and Founder of Online Amiga, a company that provides website management services for local businesses. Irasema founded Online Amiga to expand the reach her efforts to help small to medium-sized business owners compete successfully in the online world. Her experience with eCommerce powerhouses like Amazon and eBags coupled with seven years as a United States Marine Corps Officer makes Irasema a leader among leaders. As her passion and drive for helping other business owners continues to expand, Online Amiga was born to broaden her ability to reach small businesses and directly impact their levels of success.
When it comes to the best ways an organization can improve customer retention, the simple and easy answer is to…
Simply care about the customer as a person, not a sales generating object.
It is business 101, but organizations have a tenancy to think about customers as data and widgets in the technology age. When you ask the question “how do I want customers to talk about my company in a year?” it forces you to see them as a human with actual thoughts and as a long term relationship to care about.
Dave Wakeman is a leader in the consulting field, working with organizations to improve their performance and to stop wasting time and money on solutions that will never work. He has worked with international leaders in their category like American Express, Madison Square Garden, and Marriott to improve their business offerings and partners with organizations to achieve dramatic improvements in their performance. Dave has written for or been quoted in numerous publications including KOMO TV, PM Network, AllBusiness.com, and US News & World Report. He also is a regular contributor to the Voices of Project Management hosted by the Project Management Institute. Learn more about Dave and his work at Wakeman Consulting Group.
I think there are really two key ways that businesses can retain their customers…
1. Improve their service.
This is important. I recently spent time at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills and the attention to detail was extraordinary. Compare this to the way that my reservation at Loews in Coronado was bungled and butchered. Both organizations had the same information, in fact I had been in contact with Loews much more readily in the weeks prior to my trip because it was for pleasure, and they bungled the relationship. So by paying attention to details and doing little things to make my stay comforting, the Four Seasons maybe spent a few hundred dollars on improving my stay that will benefit them with several thousand dollars in extra annual income since my wife and I are on the road about 30-50 days a year for business and personal travel…while Loews won’t likely get the chance to win my business again.
2. This second revolves around the first one, but I wanted to highlight it because its often overlooked…and that is be responsive.
In my business, I try to follow up phone calls in 90 minutes or less during normal business hours and emails get a response in 24 hours. This level of responsiveness separates me from many consultants because my clients and potential clients don’t usually call me because things are going well. So by being attentive, I show that I care and that simple action makes repeats and referrals much more likely.
Keith Lee is a Client Success Manager for TechnologyAdvice, an Inc. 5000 company near Nashville, TN.
The number one way organizations can improve customer retention is…
To make customer retention your number one priority!
Customer retention is all about building long lasting meaningful relationships with your customers – an easy skill to learn.
Don’t we all want to buy from someone we can relate to? I always follow these steps when building a relationship:
- Repeat their name the first time you meet them whether that’s in person or over the phone.
- Adapt to their personality – Are they a socialite, a thinker, or a dynamo?
- Uncover some sort of detail about them – For example where are they from? “Oh you’re from Boston? I was just there last month and ate at a great steakhouse called _______.” I especially enjoy finding out where my customers are located because it helps me figure out if we have mutual acquaintances.
Joy Montgomery is a Consultant with over 25 years of experience in helping businesses improve profits, production, and quality by helping improve processes, In her work, Joy helps develop, define and streamline business systems, procedures, and communication. Learn more about about Joy and connect with her at www.structural-integrity.com.
The #1 way organizations can improve customer retention is…
Determine the cause of quality issues and fix their procedures – continuous improvement.
Lisa D. Dance is a Customer Experience/User Experience Consultant and Founder of ServiceEase. Lisa helps businesses and nonprofit organizations be easier to do business with by proactively identifying and resolving issues that affect customer satisfaction and retention. Lisa has experience managing a variety of customer-focused programs in corporate, government, small business, and non-profit environments.
The #1 way organizations can improve customer retention is by…
Connecting listening to customers to action.
Already within organizations, there’s knowledge of why customers have left or will leave. Prioritize talking with frontline employees, salespeople, and support people about customer complaints they hear. Also, review emails, letters and social media posts. Often, companies never dig deep into the root cause(s) of why issues are occurring. Even fewer implement solutions so it doesn’t happen again.
Try customer journey mapping with staff to understand the steps customers go through when interacting with your organization. It will help you identify operational and communication gaps to correct.
If resources are limited a larger change, start with the smallest step that has the largest impact. If time is an issue, do 30 minute mini-training
sessions once a week on a specific issue. If you can’t afford a new website, hire a user experience consultant to improve the information and navigation on the current website. Making a mistake isn’t an automatic loss of a customer, it’s not taking action on resolving issues that drives customers away.
Calvin Brown is the CEO and Qualifying Broker of Investment Homes Direct (IHD), a real estate investment firm that specializes in the purchase and sale of residential investment homes. IHD has participated in over 1000 real estate transactions and more than half of its sales are to existing customers and/or repeat buyers.
The key to customer retention lies in an organization’s ability to…
Offer its customers more than an opportunity to buy their product.
Companies hoping to retain customers must also act as a resource for their customers. At IHD we not only offer our clients market access to an inventory of potential investment ventures but also offer access to an array of free resources including educational material and network connections. We also offer a discounted listing service that allows our clients to save a substantial amount of money when they exit their investment homes.
In addition to becoming a resource for their customers, companies seeking customer retention must also focus on customer experience. At IHD we strive to provide a please buying experience. We avoid high pressure sales tactics and offer a hands free POS to close buying experience.
Customer retention is a result offering your customers more than the tangible product your company sells. Be a resource for your customers and offer a unique and pleasant buying experience and your customers will return.
Raphael Ventura is the Senior Client Relationship Manager at The Expert Institute. Founded in 2011, The Expert Institute is a technology-driven platform for connecting qualified experts in every field with lawyers, investment firms, and journalists looking for technical expertise and guidance. The Expert Institute combines a vast database of pre-screened experts with a talented case management team capable of custom recruiting experts to fit the specific needs of our clients. By leveraging new technologies and techniques within the legal industry, The Expert Institute has become the fastest-growing expert referral service in the country.
This is my advice to organizations who want to improve customer retention…
Customer retention is a mixture of art and science.
On the art side, you need to be able to create and foster a meaningful relationship with all of your customers individually (in a B2B setting), putting in the required time and effort to go above and beyond what the customers expectations are.
On the science side, it’s important for sales to coordinate closely with marketing to provide automatic follow up with the customer. Having consistent, useful communication with the customer is vital to establishing trust in your brand and guaranteeing continued business.
Emily Lyons is the Founder of Femme Fatale Media, a nationwide event staffing agency working with some of the worlds top brands and corporations.
The #1 way organizations can improve customer retention is to…
Remain organized with client contacts and relationships.
Organization in any small business is extremely important for success. Especially in our industry, event staffing is a very fast moving and busy industry, if you aren’t organized it will show to your client.
Additionally we have a very large client list and keep it organized to ensure we’re constantly following up with them and encouraging them to book again. We keep things organized through utilizing strict policy manuals and check lists that have been put in place over the years.
Shekhar Deo is the Co-founder & CTO of EngageClick, an adaptive advertising personalization platform, and has extensive product development experience in distributed systems, clustered systems and data storage technologies. In his leadership role, Mr. Deo has played an instrumental role in building EngageClick’s advertising technology platform that enable marketers, agencies and media companies to deliver personalized interactive ads that increases user engagement. The technology developed by Mr. Deo and his colleagues utilizes machine learning algorithms and rich data analytics to analyze consumer behavior in real time to perform predictive segmentation and adapt the advertising experiences to the audience across all screens – mobile, tablets, desktops, smart TVs, digital out of home and connected devices.
To retain customers it is essential for the organization to…
Extend the connection or ‘grow with’ the customer.
Establishing an initial connection with the consumer is a critical to the success of any business. But, customer interaction cannot stop there. It must be an ongoing process. Failing to identify or recognize the evolving needs or desires of the customer will likely result in a lost costumer, lost business.
Continuously tracking and learning about the customer’s changing needs and preferences, allows organizations to adapt and deliver personalized messages to the right customer at the right time. (Transitioning from ads for maternity clothes to ads for baby toys.)
John Coldwell is the UK Managing Director of InfoQuest B2B, a leading provider of customer satisfaction surveys.
If you are talking about B2B then the number 1 way to improve customer retention is by…
Treating customers as individuals.
They all have different needs and wants. They are all working to different agendas. They are under different political pressures, both from inside and outside their organisations. Their organisations are in different parts of the life-cycle – honeymoon period, old friend etc. And the only way that they can truly understand the needs of their customers is to listen to them.
Janet Boulter is a Business Advisor with Center Consulting Group. Center Consulting Group is a national consulting firm which provides strategic, expertise to help company leaders grow their organizations profitably. We specialize in five key areas of the organization, with a focus on creating and sustaining long-term profitability.
The best way to improve customer service:
If employees are trained to truly listen to the customer and give them what they want and or need, organizations would see a measurable improvement in their customer loyalty numbers.
In an effort to reduce costs and to deal with a large number of customers (with minimal staff), organizations have tended to streamline their processes and train their customer service staff to give customers a pre-determined or “canned” response. There are companies who actually limit the amount of time a customer service representative can spend with a customer, regardless is the problem has been resolved or not.
If organizations will spend a little more time training employees to provide an appropriate response and provide a resolution ladder, their customer retention will dramatically improve. A bad experience with a customer service representative is the top reason customers will chose another product or service from a competing company.
Norman A. Hood, CExP™, has 40 years experience providing financial services to business owners throughout the US. As founder and host of The Exit Plan Show, he also interviews America’s top advisors to help business owners enjoy more personal freedom, grow their companies faster and retire (someday) on their own terms. Interested business owners can use the FREE tool on Hood’s website to identify the value drivers they can improve upon, such as customer retention.
The best way to improve customer retention is by…
Implementing service contracts.
To design the proper contract, a business owner needs to first understand the triggers that cause customers to contact their business, based on these three distinct customer segments:
Segment 1 – High value customers
Segment 2 – New customers
Segment 3 – Long-standing, loyal customers
To determine those triggers, the company owner and at least two employees who interact with customers, should describe their last five customer interactions and the reason the customer contacted the business. Also determine why that reason was important, to dig down to the root cause that triggered the customer to interact with the company. Next, ask what would have prevented the customer from having to contact the business in the first place. This helps uncover the products and services that could be bundled into a preventative service contract. Next, speak with a group of 3 to 5 customers and ask them to describe the reasons they contacted your the business.
After determining the reasons customers interact with the business, as well as what would have prevented the interaction, categorize similar responses by circling them in the same color (one color per theme). This will result in lateral thinking to find similarities and broader themes among responses.
To finish the process, create a service offering that encompasses the majority of the reasons customers interact with the company. Also try to include at least four customer touch points (quarterly) throughout the year. Do not try to include everything. It’s better to develop a service contract that would be highly desirable to 40% of customers, than to develop something that would be only moderately appealing to 90%.
Michael Sattler is a Serial Internet Entrepreneur who has founded six companies, sold two and helped build one into a public company. His current startup, Splitzee, is a online money pooling company specializing in helping people buy things as groups.
The #1 way organizations can improve customer retention is to…
Meet unreasonable requests whenever you can.
It sounds cliche, but the best retention strategy is a satisfied customer. For the web-based startups I’ve built in my career it’s a clear and easy rule upon which all else depends. Young companies don’t have the luxury of inertia – customers who have been using us for years simply don’t exist yet. Plus, in most cases the defection to a competitor is a matter of a few simple clicks. We all know that a seriously disgruntled customer can have a vastly disproportionate impact on our brand when they choose to be vocal about their concerns on the net. But the opposite is also true: a seriously delighted customer can have a hugely positive impact if they choose to evangelize for us.
Once a customer’s issue rises to the level of confusion or complaint, we go into satisfaction overdrive. It starts with understanding exactly what their expectation was and where we fell short, but continues into a pretty straightforward question: “what would make *me* happy if I were them?”
Unreasonable and irrational customers happen – as do cheaters and free riders – but even meeting those unreal expectations whenever we can pays off in the long run. If “unreasonable” requests get too common or frequent, that’s a great signal for us to make them “reasonable” – by building solutions into our product or service. As one of our mentors says, “your most valuable customer isn’t the one who buys the most, it’s the one who sells the most.” And delighted customers make great sellers!
Chris Manteria has been a Realtor for over 10 years and now is the team leader the Merrick office and internet division of New York State’s # 1 Century 21 franchise, Century 21 American Homes. From 2011-2014 he tripled his business in a down economy reaching the top 4% of his MLS for closed business. His focus is on customer service and the customer experience whether it be a buyer, seller or agent. He works with both residential and commercial customers for top of the line results and supports his agent by passing along his experience and knowledge. Learn more about Chris and his work at www.C21Amhomes.com.
As a realtor, sales people in my industry have a bad reputation similar to used car salesmen. But what the best agents in our industry know is that customer retention is all about referrals and eventual repeat business. There are two ways that the best agents achieve this:
The first is not to act as a salespeople but to act in a customer service role. We guide our customers through the process, giving them professional advice, and educating them along the way. We make sure that we are able to give the best service and information possible while guiding the customer through a stressful situation.
The second way is follow up and offer something of value. We hear all of the time “They were nice but they never got back to me.” We need to follow up consistently throughout the process, after the closing, and keep people informed when they give us referrals to cultivate trust and forge bonds. When a customer thinks about Real Estate we want them to think about us. It’s all about what we can do for the customer, not what they can do for us.
Keep the customer’s need first in mind and they will keep you first in mind when they are thinking about what you have to offer.
Pat Kelley, MS, SPHR, is an Author, Speaker and Teacher specializing in Human Resources and management, with over 43 years of experience. Pat has extensive work experience in banking, manufacturing, food processing, and communications, and is a recipient of the Arkansas Society for Human Resource Management’s Lifetime Achievement Award. She taught graduate classes in human resources and management for Webster University for more than fifteen years, and is the author of dozens of articles, case studies and newsletters, as well as the non-fiction how-to book “Hiring Right: A Business Blueprint for Lower Turnover and Higher Profits”. Learn more about Pat’s work at connect with her at www.patkelleyauthor.net.
The number one way organizations can improve customer retention is by…
Hiring the right customer contact employees!
The “right” customer contact employees are those with the perfect combination of knowledge, skills, personality and experience.
In my soon-to-be-released book, “Hiring Right: A Business Blueprint for Lower Turnover and Higher Profits” (Second Edition), I present a step-by-step process for doing just that. In addition to chapters on recruiting and screening, interviewing, checking references, legal issues in hiring, onboarding and new hire training, I cite dozens of examples and give tips and tools based on research and my experience.
For example, personality testing can help find employees who are the right match for customer contact jobs. In one company, a large regional bank, I helped reduce new-hire turnover of tellers from 95% to less than 30% by including a validated personality test as part of the applicant screening process. In addition to reduced turnover, customer satisfaction improved, transaction accuracy improved, and employees reported greater job satisfaction.
Shel Horowitz is a Green Business Profitability Expert, Consultant, Copywriter, and Author of eight books. He gives a popular business talk called “Making Green Sexy” and has been blogging since 2004 and using social media since 1995. Learn more about Shel and his work at www.greenandprofitable.com.
The number one way organizations can improve customer retention is by working to…
Surprise and delight your customers, and do a better job/come in at a lower cost/do more than they were expecting.
Treat them as the special and wonderful human beings they are, and make sure everyone working for the company knows they’re part of the marketing team and the high standards
that requires–especially those who interact with the public. Also, remember that the better you treat your employees, the better they will treat customers and prospects.
Billy Bauer is the Managing Director of Royce Leather, a leading retail manufacturer of fine leather products including wallets, passport cases, briefcases, padholders, and other leather accessories.
The number one way organizations can improve customer retention is by remember to…
Thank customers for doing business with you. In writing.
The value of the product or service will determine what is appropriate. High cost service deals warrant a handwritten note; even smaller cost transaction companies can send pre-printed appreciation notes to customers on a scheduled basis.
Ian Aronovich is the CEO and President of GovernmentAuctions.org, a site that compiles and provides information about government auctions of seized and surplus merchandise from all over the country.
I believe that the #1 way organizations can improve customer retention is…
By having unparalleled customer service.
A good example of this is Zappos. Zappos is successful almost exclusively due to their superior customer service, which has induced its customers to become its biggest advocate. And not only does it result in customer retention, but amazing customer service is also a fantastic marketing strategy since it stimulates word of mouth advertising.
Michelle Burke is the Marketing Supervisor for WyckWyre, a Food Industry HR Systems online hiring tech tool.
The number one way we tell our clients they can improve customer retention is to…
Hire the right employees.
Employee satisfaction is reflected among your customers. Continue ongoing training efforts with employees to keep them engaged and constantly learning how to better themselves at the workplace to create a better experience for your customers. Customer service begins with engaging your employees, and engaged employees have shown reduced turnover rates in about 70 percent of our customers.
Gregory Ciotti is a marketing strategist who is credited with helping grow the Help Scout blog to nearly 4 million unique visitors per year. You can learn more about Gregory and his work in writing, publishing, and content marketing management at gregoryciotti.com.
NOTE: The following information is excerpted from 20 Customer Retention Strategies that Work via Help Scout.
“It’s hard to retain customers if they aren’t even paying attention to you…”
Customers are more likely to ignore you if your company doesn’t stand for anything. Research from the Corporate Executive Board that included 7,000 consumers from across the U.S. found that of those consumers who said they had a strong relationship with a brand, 64 percent cited shared values as the primary reason. If you want loyal customers, you need create real connections with them. What do you stand for?
Marketing consultant Ross Beard was on the marketing team at Client Heartbeat and now is a marketer at Elucidat, where he is responsible for leading marketing strategy and operations. As a digital marketing professional, Ross has experience working with fast-growing B2B software and technology companies. You can follow Ross’ work and ideas at rossbeard.com.
NOTE: The following information is excerpted from 9 Customer Retention Strategies for Companies via Client Heartbeat.
“The first step to building better customer retention is to set client expectations early. The earlier the better. Don’t wait…”
By setting expectations early and a tad lower than you can provide, you can eliminate uncertainty as to the level of service you need to offer to ensure your clients are happy. This clear vision enables your company to build KPIs around specific expectations and ensure you are always over delivering.
Clients tend to remember negative experiences. So if you have over delivered on the past 20 occasions, but, once, you undelivered – your client will no doubt quote that negative experience as a reason to cancel his or her contract with you.
Len Markidan is head of marketing at Groove. He focuses on helping startups and small businesses build better relationships with their customers. Len is a big believer in the power of world-class content marketing, and you can learn more about his work and ideas at lenmarkidan.com.
NOTE: The following information is excerpted from 10 Customer Retention Strategies to Implement Today via Groove.
“Three words. The difference between a business that sustainably grows long-term, and one that flames out and dies, often comes down to just three words. Customer Lifetime Value…”
Most customers who have a problem with your product won’t tell you about it.
In fact, one study from Lee Resources International suggested that on average for every customer who complains about an issue, there are 26 who don’t say anything; they simply leave.
Brian Honigman is a content marketing consultant and CEO of Honigman Media, a consultancy offering content strategy and content creation services. Brian is the former digital marketing director at Marc Ecko Enterprises and former social media manager at LunaMetrics. Brian also is a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur Magazine, and other publications.
NOTE: The following information is excerpted from 5 Secrets to Increasing Customer Retention – And Profits via Entrepreneur.
“One-time customers aren’t going to fuel the continued growth of your business. Retaining customers is crucial to your long-term business success…”
Personalization can lead to loyal customers. Users often leave web pages within 10 to 20 seconds, but pages with clear and relevant value propositions can hold people’s attention for much longer. Relevancy is key, and that is where personalization comes in.
You can start personalizing your experience from a user’s very first visit to your site based on the referring source. For instance, altering product pricing and promotional offers, images on landing and product pages, or the amount of text on a page to make an experience as relevant to a user has possible.The added relevance can intrigue visitors to stay on your site longer, but the big engagement increases come from altering your offerings based on each user’s behavior on your site. A/B testing to ascertain what is effective for each segment of your audience will help your business personalize your site’s experience to attract and retain relevant customers.