Customer retention holds a special place in most organizations' strategic plans. While companies devote hours of staff time and reams of paper to business development, customer retention is rarely discussed until there is a crisis.
Although it is often taken for granted, there is no other single issue that gets executives' attention faster than losing customers. It is often that case that senior management puts other priorities on hold until they get answers regarding what it says about the brand, operations, and product.
Your organization will never be able to eradicate customer churn. However, knowing the significant impact that losing customers has on an organization's financials, there are concrete steps businesses can take to use their online customer community to measuably increase customer retention.
How Can Your Customer Community Increase Customer Retention
Strategy #1: Show that Your Organization is Listening
Social listening is great. You can learn a lot about your market, your position, and your customers. To keep your customers, you need to take it a step further and create a dialog. Demonstrate that you hear the business problems and product needs that customers discuss in your online community.
Don't hide when customers request new functionality or services. Use it as an opportunity to educate customers on how to use your solution and how your company selects new features for your product.
Strategy #2: Be More Proactive
Use the reports and analytics functionality in your online community software to deliver proactive assistance and helpful information to your customer base. Identify at-risk customers and address concerns before customers have to reach out to your support team.
Strategy #3: Stay Closer to Customers
Develop partnerships with your customers using the wide array of engagement opportunities in your online customer community. These can include asking them to lead a group, respond to a discussion, contribute to a blog, and participate in an event.
Elevating your customers' brands and successes within your community can garner a very positive response. Build trust and connection by deemphasizing the "Me Customer, You Provider" elements of the relationship. Over time, you and your customers will better understand the symbiotic nature of the partnership and actively seek out win/win opportunities.
Strategy #4: Produce More Exclusive Content
Your online customer community is an extension of your product strategy. By offering customer-only content around how to solve real business problems using your products and services, you create a key differentiator for your organization.
Start a how-to web video series, increase your blog content, or create educational content based on customer interviews. Even when customers are frustrated with your product or services, they'll be less likely to end the relationship for fear of losing the stream of useful content and connections.
Strategy #5: Be More Invaluable in Customers' Daily Lives
It is good to step away from your social business strategy a few times a year and make sure that your customer community is solving the right problems for your customers. Interview and survey customers to learn about their problems, then update your online community to solve those problems. Aligning your organization more closely with your market's problems will both increase sales and keep existing customers.
Strategy #6: Help Customers Find More Success
The goal of an online customer community is to bring customers, employees, and partners together for the success of your customers. Use both your online community activity and offline interactions to internalize your customers' goals.
Identify both where your customers are having success with your products and services and where they are struggling. Then, map out the content, discussions, and processes that you can initiate in your online customer community to highlight successes, plug holes, and help customers find even more success with your company.
Customer Community Takeaway
Customer retention is an understated top priority for most organizations. Keeping your customers will depend on:
- If your customers are successful with your products and services
- The strength of the relationship
- How effectively you provide unique value
By combining your products and services with an online customer community you are able to solve your customer's most urgent, pervasive problems in a unique and adaptable way.