Customer retention can be considered the heartbeat of a company. In other words, without customer retention, your business is probably close to being non-existent. How does one maintain a high level of customer retention? Let’s consider one statistic: 68% of customer defections take place because customers feel poorly treated. I think that statistic should cause one to ask: What is important to my customer regarding my product or service? How do you determine what’s important? Simply take the time to ask your customer what’s important to them. Is it your willingness to customize to meet their needs? Perhaps it’s helpful and attentive employees? Maybe it’s how quickly they’re acknowledged when visiting your business whether in person, over the phone or via social media. Customer retention starts with determining what’s important to your customer.
You might ask, “Errol, when do I ask my customers what’s important to them about my product or service.” Glad you asked! The best time to ask is at the beginning of the relationship – when assessing your customer’s wants and needs. Their answers to your assessment questions should lead to your establishing what’s important to the customer. Another method to consider for determining what’s important to your customer is to conduct a customer focus group. This method allows you to obtain feedback from multiple customers at the same time. At the other end of the relationship – after provision of the product/service – it’s a good idea to determine if what the customer received included what they deemed most important. Let’s talk about a simple method to determine if you were successful in meeting your customers expectations. Try a short survey that takes 2 to 5 minutes for your customer to complete. Here’s an example: In preparation for a recent customer service presentation to the hair stylist industry, I gathered some data via Facebook regarding what hair stylist’s customers deem important. These are a couple of the statements utilized. “It is important that my services begin promptly upon my arrival at my scheduled appointment time.” “A reasonable amount of time for my stylist to complete my service is: 1 to 2 hrs, 2 to 3hrs, 3 to 4hrs or 4+hrs.” The answers received allowed me to gauge what’s most important to hair stylist’s customers. To create a survey from this data, get the customer to give feedback on what they expect from your industry. The statement “It is important that my services begin promptly upon my arrival at my scheduled appointment time.” gets your customer to speak about the industry. Now get your customer to speak about your business by using the statement “My services begin promptly upon my arrival at my scheduled appointment time”. This survey method allows you to both identify what’s most important to your customer and how well you are performing in relation to what’s most important. A rating scale of Disagree – Neutral – Agree – Strongly Agree was utilized for this statement. Here’s what it would look like on your survey:
It is important that my services begin promptly upon my arrival at my scheduled appointment time.
Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree
My services begin promptly upon my arrival at my scheduled appointment time.
Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree
If the customer states that they Strongly Agree that it’s important that their service begins promptly upon their arrival when answering the statement to rate the industry, any rating below Strongly Agree when rating your business is an opportunity for you to correct this area of your business in order to retain the customer. Share this information with everyone in your business so that all are one the same page regarding how your customers feel and all can participate in developing solutions to issues identified in the survey results.
Customer service surveys are an important piece of your game plan to retain customers. Be proactive in seeking out how your customers feel about your product/service. Responding to complaints puts you in the recovery mode which may result in your losing a customer. Allow your customers to assist you in improving your product/service and in maintaining a high retention level by simply asking for their opinion. Doing so makes your customer feel that you care! We’ll discuss another component of your customer retention game plan next month.