No matter which industry you belong to, keeping existing customers is always more cost-effective than acquiring new customers, regardless of the reason for their leaving. All businesses must obviously focus on bringing in new customers to help grow revenues, but they must also focus more attention on keeping existing customers, including newly acquired customers. The last thing you want is to add new customers to your customer base and end up with them being "one and done" because nothing was done to keep them once you acquired them. With that said, here are 15 strategies that you should employ to minimize customer attrition.


Use customer research: Understanding the different customer segments that make up your customer database is extremely important. Separate them into segments such as loyal customers, underperforming customers, and lapsed customers, among others.


Once you have your customers segmented into different groups, you can then drill down further to understand the needs of your customers by industry. This will allow you to tailor offers that they will find compelling. It will also provide your sales and customer service representatives with data and specific examples that they can use to explain how your products and services can support the needs of that industry and that individual customer.


Measure service performance: This is a key strategy because you need to ensure that customers are getting the level and quality of service they are supposed to be getting. Also, this helps ensure everybody in your organization is informed about the degree to which those goals are or are not being met.


This means not only measuring the concrete numbers, but also measuring customer perceptions of service quality. Measuring customer perception of service quality is certainly difficult and you can't satisfy every customer every time, but it is the pursuit of such excellence where you will see improvement in customer perceptions.


Meet implied as well as explicit commitments: There are a number of things that customers can forget and forgive. But the one thing they will always remember, and cause them to find someone else to address their needs is a company that does not keep its promises. Always be clear about what you will do and when you will do it. Then make sure you do it and you do it when you said you would. The final step here is to contact customers for closure and thank them for their business.


Foster customer involvement: Customer involvement often means nothing more than getting customers to do more of the work. This creates economic savings that are usually shared with customers and provide an incentive to maintain the relationship.

If a relationship is comfortable for customers, inertia will usually maintain it. But if your customers make a deeper investment with you, such as engaging you to do their design work or investing in compatible hardware and/or software, your relationship will usually be secure for a considerable period.


On the psychological end, customers generally have high motivation to be involved in the customer service process, and usually identify closely with vendors in "partnership" arrangements. This tends to increase the likelihood of account retention.


Create a disaster recovery plan: Why is having a disaster recovery plan important to retaining customers? The answer is simple. The more downtime you have the more money this costs you and the more your customers become frustrated with the services you provide, because they can't use them and contact you for assistance.


Customers want a reliable product and service and they want to be able to contact you whenever they need assistance. If you can't provide this, they will look elsewhere.


Deliver fast response times: Quick and satisfactory settlement of routine claims, complaints, and requests for adjustments are one of the more important aspects of retaining customers. They don't want to be left out in the wind. They want to be taken care of quickly and they want issues resolved when you say they will be resolved. Customers are more apt to remember how you handled an issue instead of the issue itself.


Offer unique service features: Why invest in offering unique service features? Two words answer this: competitive advantage. If you offer products and services that your competitors don't offer, then your customers have no other place to go to get what they need. Work to become a one-stop shopping place by adding new products and services when demand requires this and improving on your existing products and services at an equal pace.


Train customer service personnel: Agents who are trained in capturing customer feedback can spot customers who are dissatisfied or who are considering buying from the competition, and can pass that information along to their manager. They should also be trained in passing along competitive information so that your marketing department can take appropriate action.


Training agents in basic customer retention techniques gives them the tools they need to keep customers. This is done by successfully handling complaints, turning dissatisfied customers into satisfied, loyal ones, and educating customers on the value of your products and services.

 

Giving front-line personnel courtesy, customer relations, and telephone skills training increases the likelihood that the agents will delight rather than antagonize your customers.


Training customer service personnel in your systems, policies, and procedures and giving them in-depth product and service knowledge prepares them to handle customer calls professionally and proactively, in a way that ensures customer satisfaction.


Automate the low end, personalize the high end: This strategy is the key to retaining customers because it allows you to automate the routine tasks that your sales, customer service, and marketing groups perform daily, thereby freeing up valuable time that can be used to call customers.


Know your customers: Know a customer's business. Be a consultant and ask questions of your customers. This will allow you to direct your customers to purchase what they actually need, not what they think they want.


Follow up on lost business and cancelled orders: Track revenue loss and make immediate attempts to reverse any cancellations. Don't be afraid to ask customers why they cancelled a single order or why they are taking all of their business elsewhere. By getting this very valuable feedback, you will be able to identify what steps are needed to recapture this lost business and/or avoid this same mistake in the future.


Offer customers incentives to continue doing business with you: Price is always a concern for people shopping for a particular product or service. What you don't want to do is get into a price war with your competition. Implement a pricing strategy that puts you in the 50 to 60 percent deciles for pricing, as compared to your competition. Don't be the cheapest and don't be the most expensive. At the same time, don't just offer discounts to all of your customers for the sake of offering discounts. When you do this you are effectively training your customers to look for discounts before they place an order.


Be more scientific. Whether you have the ability in-house or you have to partner with someone, implement predictive modeling so that you are making the right offer to the right customer at the right time. Be focused in your offers. Don't take the one-size-fits-all approach.


Build personal relationships: One simple thing to consider is assigning an individual person to specific accounts and empowering this person to build a relationship with each customer.

Advertise to keep customers as well as acquire them: Remind customers of all of the product and/or service features or applications that will enhance utility and satisfaction.


Follow up with new customers: This is a golden strategy that all companies should strive to achieve, but this is especially important for an e-commerce company. Following-up with all new customers puts a human touch on an impersonal transaction, thereby creating a foundation for a loyal relationship. Following up with every new customer may not be possible because of volume, so set a dollar value and follow up with all new customers who spend over that amount.


Article Source: EzineArticles.com


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