Techniques for Improving Customer Retention
In the early stages of business, companies often spend a great deal of time generating new leads to increase the number of customers attracted to their service or product. However, in the hustle and bustle associated with this task, it is very easy to lose sight of an equally important part of customer-business relationships – building loyalty with the customers that you already have. When you work on building customer loyalty, you help to ensure long-term customer relationships that can benefit your company immensely. We’ll discuss several techniques that you can use to improve the level of customer retention in your business below.
Meet and Exceed Service Level Agreement Expectations
An astonishing 68% of customers choose to end their relationship with a company because they are displeased with the service they receive. This is an area where the service level agreement (SLA) that accompanies a business relationship comes into focus. Customers often look to the SLA as a guide to the service they are going to receive. If you guarantee no hidden fees with your services, it is important that all fees are clearly disclosed in this agreement. If your company promises to fix bugs within 48 hours, it should be detailed in this agreement. Setting these expectations is important, meeting them is critical. The only thing better than meeting the expectations set forth by the SLA is exceeding them. When you regularly exceed the performance that the customer is expecting, they will be sure to pass on positive messages about your company to friends and colleagues.
Be the Expert
When you excel at advising customers in the areas related to your business, they will take notice. This technique helps to build customer loyalty, as well as reduce the number of complaints. The best way to be proactive about this is by identifying problems specific to your industry that customers often face. Then, write about these issues on your company blog, and be sure your support team knows how to answer questions. For example, if you are an IT company, your staff should be more than capable of helping a customer choose between software solutions for their business.
Make Support Easily Accessible
Another critical piece of customer satisfaction is support for the services you provide. It is important to remember that there is always a competitor ready to take your customer by promising them better service and support. The best way to offer great support is to make it easily accessible to your customers. If you sell software or a mobile application, for example, have a visible support button within the software or app. This can link to FAQs, a “Contact Us” area, and even a phone number to call for support. If it is within your means, consider a 24-hour line for support requests. Finally, if a problem is reported with your product or service, work to fix it immediately. When repairs take too long, customers often become dissatisfied, and may choose to terminate the business relationship.
Survey All Customers
Surveys are a great indicator of the areas where your company can improve, especially if you are unsure of the reason you cannot retain customers. To get feedback, you can send out automated e-mails occasionally that offer surveys to customers. Surveys should be short (1-3) questions, and able to be answered without going to an external website. This increases the likelihood of customers responding. You can also offer customers a survey after they have spent time on your company’s site.
Surveys help with customer retention because negative responses from current customers indicate a problem that may cause them to terminate the business relationship. If you fix this area quickly, you can improve customer satisfaction, as well as retain a previously dissatisfied customer.
Require a Reason if a Person Chooses to Cancel Services
Don’t forget to survey any clients you lose — in a way, you have an even greater chance for an honest description of what you can do better with a customer you have already lost. Even if you can’t use this as an opportunity to redress those concerns, you must ensure that you position yourself to learn from them.
Because dissatisfaction plays such a large role in many individuals’ decision to cancel company services, it is important to gain information from customers terminating their business relationship with your company. You can do this by requiring a reason when a customer cancels services. Then, you can work on improving this area so that current and future customers are more likely to be satisfied with their experience.
Be Proactive about Problems
Another great technique to improve your company’s level of customer retention is addressing problems before they occur. When you are proactive about problems, you have the opportunity to apologize for inconveniencing the customer, which builds trust. You can also avoid dissatisfied calls and emails to your support department by meeting these issues head-on and communicating them to your clients yourself. Be honest — let them know what the problem is and exactly how and when you expect to resolve it. Additionally, if you expect a delay in services (such as a late delivery, or missing appointments) you can e-mail, text, or call the customer to apologize and notify them of the delay. If you use software like Scoro for project management, consider allowing your clients direct access to see the state of the project and it’s associated tasks, and communicate with the teams responsible for completing them.
Build Strong Customer Relationships
When you have a close relationship with your customers, it builds trust. This kind of faith is exactly what you’re looking for. There are a few techniques you can use to do this, such as cultivating shared values and implementing an e-mail marketing campaign. To cultivate shared values, you need to know about your customer. When you have your next meeting with the client, ask what separates them from their competitors. Take note of this before leaving, and then research information on strengthening their unique trait. Use this to guide you in the services that you offer. You can also use this in your e-mail marketing campaign. Each month, make a point to send clients an e-mail that includes news about the company and any new products or services. To further personalize the email, include an article or two that relates to their specialized area of business or the difference that they mentioned when you asked them about their services. You should also take the opportunity to share a link to your company blog. The better your understanding of your clients, and your communication with them, the better you build trust and the more likely you are to succeed.
Lautaro Martinez is a freelance writer and professional student who contributes practical insights into the business community and solutions to the challenges faced by the small business owner and aspiring entrepreneur.