In part one of this series, we focused on determining what’s important to your customers and utilizing surveys to allow your customers to speak about your product/service. In part 2 we will discuss two additional components of your customer retention game plan – your ability to deliver the agreed upon product/service and the importance of regular communication with your customers. After taking the time to determine what’s important to your customers prior to their purchase of your product/service, your provision of what you agreed to, promised, said you can do will be step one in determining if you will retain this customer. The expectation has been set and it’s paramount that you deliver! Don’t promise what you know you can’t provide. It’s better to refer your customer to someone who can than to disappoint them by not meeting agreed upon expectations. It’s as simple as a fast food restaurant drive-thru scenario – review selections, place order, order verified, pay for order, receive order, customer inspects order to verify expectations met, expectations met? – yes = drive away/no = advise employee = rework, something additional added (maybe) to order free of charge in an attempt to appease the customer for error and time spent waiting for rework. If an error occurs, will this customer return? Possibly if this scenario does not happen on a regular basis. However, don’t even allow this to become an issue. You may not get another opportunity. Provide what you agree to provide. Done consistently, your retention rate will remain high and your referrals will increase. Results from a recent survey of 200 marketing professionals conducted by the Technical Assistance Research Program (TARP) indicated that at least 25% (and even as high as 75%) of new business is gained via word of mouth referrals. Make sure everyone in your organization understands the importance of meeting the agreed upon expectations. Advise everyone of the cost of a lost customer. Make sure everyone understands the cost of rework. Your business reputation is at stake! Just as new business is created via word of mouth advertising, opportunities for new business are lost when you the word gets out that your business doesn’t meet the agreed upon expectations.
The next component that we’ll briefly discuss is the need to communicate on a regular basis with your customers. Regular communication is another method of letting your customers know you care. You might say, “Errol, I don’t see my customers on a regular basis.” This may be true, depending upon the nature of your business, yet there are other means to communicate with your customer. Utilize your database (you do have a customer database right?) to establish regular conversations via other means. Consider creating a monthly newsletter that provides information regarding your business and industry to your customers. Utilize the social media channels – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. to advise your customers of specials, promotions and discounts. E-mail blasts are another method to provide this information. Simple things – like saying happy birthday or happy anniversary go a long way in making your customers feel valued. A proactive phone call from you can help to solidify in your customers’ mind that you really care about the relationship. Do the unexpected! This will set you apart from your competitors. Find a way that fits your particular business to stay in contact with your customer. Remember, your competitor is waiting for an opportunity to make your customers their customers.