How do you build a loyal Customer base in the financially difficult and competitive business environment of today?
In these tough economic times, when customer loyalty is hard to win and harder still to maintain, sales and customer service providers need to find new ways of reaching and engaging with their exisiting clients.
Make your existing customers feel special
It’s a well-known business fact they keeping your existing customers is far less expensive than winning new ones. In fact, there are numbers quoted as high as 6 times as much. Therefore it may be a big mistake to invest all your time focused on generating new business to the point that you forget about the ‘cash cow’ your ‘low hanging fruit’ your existing customers.
It is also a big mistake to focus only on providing good customer services. Customer Service is dead it is now all about Customer Engagement as being the driver for long term business relationships. Engage with prospects and customers, build meaningful relationships, get face to face if possible, listen to them, understand them and provide value for them.
How? There are numerous ways in which you can engage with your existing customers and many of them can be automated so once it’s all set up you do not have to be physically involved, yet the experience you are providing will help towards building a strong and positive emotional state that makes customers feel connected to your business.
Here are a few for you to consider:
Newsletter sent to a list of customers every month, personalised with a special offer only for existing customers.
Monthly tips and ideas on how to use your product or service, how to get more value from what they have purchased.
Send invites to live events / demonstrations or webinars to explain a new product or service offering.
Surveys to establish what else you can do for the customer, their likes, dislikes and thoughts.
Whichever method you use to achieve ‘Customer Engagement’ make sure you maintain your contact on a regular basis. In all contacts that you make try to get to the answer to the question, ‘Is there anything else we can do for you?’
Live and breathe the customer experience
Empathy is all about putting yourself in the customer’s shoes. Do you really see your business from their eyes? How easy do you make it for them to do business with you? Do you use the products and services you sell? The point is if you do not really understand you business from an outside perspective you could be making some huge mistakes that are costing you turnover and profit.
Here is are some examples: –
You visit a web site that takes ages to load because the home page or landing page has to many moving pictures – how does this make you feel?
You get to the shopping trolley on a web site and are not sure about something and there is no direct talk link that you can use – what do you do, how do you feel?
You enter a store and are left waiting without any recognition – how do you feel?
You call a company and it takes an age for the telephone to be answered and when it is, it’s as if you interrupted a tea break and spoilt their day – how do you feel?
A true story – I was waiting in a line in a well-known supermarket to pay for my shopping – I get to the front of the queue and load my goods onto the conveyor belt. The lady at the till looks bored, miserable and disheveled and I could see was just going through the process, not smiling, not acknowledging anyone, just doing a job. I paid and thought I should say something so I said, ‘I just spent a great deal of money with you, a thank you would have been nice?’ ‘There is no need it’s on your receipt’, she said and sure enough, it was. I laughed and left, never to return. I made a small stand for what is right. This employee added no emotional value to my visit, she did nothing to make me feel value, no engagement, to her I was a process.
Customer Retention Ideas
Your customers are being enticed away by your competitors’ every day. They are bombarded by all sorts of advertising, mail shots, emails etc all aimed at getting your clients to try another way, try another product or service.
Your Customer retention strategy, should always include a check for a shift in a buying patterns. Be aware if their buying patterns suddenly change, or they do not email you or pass by your shop. Don’t be bashful, contact them and let them know you have noticed they do not buy as much as they used to. Ask if something is wrong and find out what you can do to get their business back. If you think this is a little aggressive believe me it’s not, you care don’t you, they are important to you aren’t they, you want to keep their business don’t you? They will see it as your concern and there is a strong probability that they will become even better customers as a result of your proactive actions.
Be proactive (it’s a mind set), review all your clients and send those loyal to you a discount card, free gift or provide a payment holiday, these timely and often unexpected demonstrations of how you value your customer could make all the difference to their loyalty to your brand.
Do you know how much it costs for you to find a new customer? Try and get to a price I bet you will be amazed at how high a price you pay, so in theory if you have to make a replacement or refund that seems a little expensive it may be by far the cheaper option compared to finding a new customer to replace the one your about to lose.
Customer Complaints are a Business Opportunity.
When a customer complains, they are giving you an opportunity to put things right. How you do that may mean the difference between keeping them, and their friends, or losing them, and their friends business for good.
The Customer is King, they know that and often use it against you, so don’t take things personally, if you have to give to receive later – do it, bite the bullet consider the long term.
If possible, have a dedicated person to handle complaints. This will allow a caller to always get through to the same adviser, building up trust and continuity of action, and the longer someone does this role the better they become at it.
Remember to take ownership of every issue, never say, ‘Sorry, that’s not my responsibility.’ Always make certain that problems are resolved, even if it’s not directly your responsibility. By the way, ‘Sorry’ is a weak word use ‘I apologise for …’ much stronger.
Perfect the art of listening
Train your people to really focus on what the customer is saying, so they listen out for clues in the tone and emotion of the voice and match their response accordingly, calming an angry client, reassuring a worried one.
They shouldn’t jump in too soon or interrupt but let the customer have their say before clarifying any points or asking questions.
Encourage the use of positive statements. ‘What I recommend is …’, ‘I completely understand …’. At the same time, pick up on negative signals. ‘Maybe …’, ‘I’m not sure …’ are danger signals and might indicate you risk losing a customer. Never ‘yeah but …’ a customer it really aggravates people to be ‘yeah butted’, use this little technique, ‘I accept what you are saying however I need to …..’, by accepting you are defusing the difficulty and able to make a point, but softly. Watch your tone of voice.
Should your complaining customer be sitting in front of you be very aware of your body language, believe it or not, your posture and actions will affect the way you client responds to you.
A few ideas and thoughts for you to think on – good luck.