Plainly speaking Customer Retention is the activity that a company undertakes in order to reduce customer churn. What most companies fail to realize is that retention begins when the sale is underway. Whether through online, telemarketing, direct mail, door to door, no matter what channel, the initial customer experience sets the alarm clock from the time customer retains your service. So initial positive impressions and experience is critical at the time of sale and then maintained throughout the lifecycle of the customer.
So while creating channels to add customers, a company needs to simultaneously create channels to keep customers engaged. Strangely enough one of the fastest ways to actually grow your business is to reduce the number of clients who leave you. Thus, looking after existing clients should become your top priority.
Here are some channels to help bolster retention:
- Welcome Calls: Initiate a “welcome to our family” and inquire what your customer’s initial impressions are of the product or service they purchased. Ask them about their experience to date; this is also a great time to ask for referrals if their experience has been positive. This can accomplished be by mail, email, a newsletter, or even just a simple face-to-face chat.
- Manage Social Media: By paying attention to posted complaints you can deter possible cancellations and continuous negative broadcasts. Look at negative complaints as an opportunity to “win over” a customer by showing care and responsiveness. Today, negative comments on social media can spread virally to negatively impact your reputation. Engage customers timely on Facebook, Twitter etc. and represent yourself as a caring organization willing to satisfy.
- Create and support a Loyalty Program. There are many industries that have use loyalty programs as a thrust of their customer engagements i.e. airlines industry. The airlines spend millions of dollars on these programs. Today however, you can create online loyalty programs through social media that are extremely cost effective and can easily broadcast customer enthusiasm for your product or service.
- Manage customer service satisfaction and FCR (First Call Resolution) some companies have gone offshore or nearshore with their call centers to reduce costs. These short term decisions have had negative long term consequences with lower retention in areas such as sales, service and in some cases technical support. Even if you have a US based call center infrastructure, measure satisfaction, offer customers choice and ensure problems are resolved timely.
- Specialist retention swat team Consider setting up a specialist retention team by identifying agents with the right mix of service and sales skills that are best suited for this effort. Customers are calling with intent to cancel. You need to invest in a focused and highly trained team to engage these customers with a turnaround goal to have a happy satisfied customer once again.