It’s no secret that client acquisition is critical to a business’s growth, but it’s customer retention programs that can help organizations maintain a steady base they can rely on – one that can help them get them through the lean times, identify important trends, and make improvements that can keep their business relevant as times change.
Of course, customer retention doesn't sound as exciting as client acquisition, but it is less costly, and can ultimately make or break your business. In fact, according a study cited by the Harvard Business Review, Bain & Company (the developers of the often-cited net promoter score), found that "it costs seven times more to attract new customers than it does to keep them. Additionally, if you retain just 5 percent of your customers annually, you can generate up to 125 percent more profits," which illustrates just how critical retaining clients and maintaining a customer focus really is. So, without further ado, let's take a look at four simple ways organizations of every size can take a customer-centric approach and grow their business.
- Stay in touch. Business apps, like customer relationship managers, that allow your team to have all the information they need to connect with customers and understand their needs, can help you put your best foot forward. Look for an app that seamlessly organizes information, including emails, calls, invoicing and notes, in a database that anyone who has contact with the customer can access. This way, when any communication occurs, your customer service representative can get the "whole picture" and respond to all requests and questions appropriately.
- Offer customer rewards with loyalty/discount services. Part of any modern client retention program should include some type of customer reward, loyalty or discount program. If you're not sold on the idea, consider this: "69 percent of consumers say [their] choice of retailer is influenced by where they can earn customer loyalty/rewards program points, whereas 57.4% of consumers join loyalty programs to save money, and 37.5% to receive rewards," according to Invesp.
- Respond to customer requests for support, and be open with them – presenting yourself as a real person, and a real business. In any relationship, communication is critical – so look for business apps and email marketing tools that not only allow you to connect with your customers and provide support when they need it, but tell your story your way. By presenting yourself and your organization authentically, you can build a rapport and develop trust, which can go a long way toward meeting your customer retention goals.
- Connect with your clients, stay in tune with the marketplace, and make sure that your business and product strategy allow you to deliver what your clients need. By creating ways to gather feedback via social media, email, surveys, and contact forms, as well as in person and over the phone, your team can connect to your customers when, where, and how it suits them best. But you have to make communication a two-way street. Respond to negative and positive comments, touch base to make sure that customers were happy with their experiences and/or resolutions, and show they you're truly listening by making important changes brought to light due to such feedback. It will allow you to show those you serve that you're paying attention to their needs and working to grow and change with the marketplace.
As your customer retention program develops, be sure to include an employee training element in your plan. This way, your team will understand exactly how to execute the plan, be empowered to make quick decisions, and recognize when to escalate issues to the next level. Not only will it allow your staff to resolve problems as they arise, but it will help them deliver a better overall experience.