How close are your customers to switching to a competitor? One screw-up? One disregarded request to your support team? One tone-deaf message from customer marketing? Or maybe the next frustrating experience with your product?
Every week, the number of options your customers have for getting their jobs done multiplies.
The days where your company holds all of the cards are long gone. Your customers are increasingly influenced by messages from around your industry and are empowered to use the products and services that are going to best suite their specific situation.
The coming together of realities these creates an environment where retaining customers is more important to growing your business and maintaining a healthy company than at any other time in your organization's history. There are many companies that focus more attention, time and money on earning new customers while putting customer retention on a back burner.
Most often, customer retention doesn't become a concern until the business realizes that it is losing its current customer base. The truth that most businesses need to realize is that it is less costly to work on keeping the customers they already have than to go out and find new customers.
This is why your company should resolve to increase customer retention in the New Year. There are many things that you can do to hold onto the customers you have using your online customer community.
Resolution #1: Maintain Dialog So Customers Know You're Listening
Customers like to know that they are being heard. Whether it's their questions or concerns, complaints or compliments, it is important that you are responding and engaging with your customers. This is made easier with online social communities, giving you a listening post for optimum two-way communication.
It is an excellent way to stay on top of customer service issues. You can quickly (and proactively) address concerns that they have, answer questions about products and services, and give exposure to customers who leave glowing compliments about your company.
Since most raging customers can be pulled back from the edge with basic human communication, some of the most effective ways to increase customer retention are often overlooked due to their simplicity. Always be listening and to make sure your customers know that you are ready to hear them.
Resolution #2: Produce Exclusive Content and Special Offers
We all love knowing that we are getting something special, whether it's access to unique and valuable content or receiving exclusive offers and discounts. Focus some attention on creating content that you can give your loyal customers access to, such as ebooks, newsletters, videos or how-to articles.
Giving your customers an inside look at what products are in the works is a great way to make them feel included and a valuable part of your business.
Find special offers that are only open to your current customers. These can be discount codes for customer events, early access to a new service, or even getting them a special offer with one of your strategic partners.
The segmentation and content features in your online customer community system enable you to create the feeling that being your loyal customer comes with privileges that they don't want to miss out on.
Resolution #3: Keep Yourself at the Front of Your Customers' Minds
When your customers have a need, you want to make sure that you are the first to come to mind when they want to fulfill those needs. To create this type of brand impression in your customers' brains, you'll need to go above and beyond for each and every customer.
If they ask questions about your products, respond quickly. If a problem arises, resolve it quickly. When they send you a message that praises your products, your customer service or employees, thank them right away.
Use your customer community software to send them targeted emails with content that will help them get their jobs done and use your product more successfully. Identify the type of information that each specific customer finds valuable based on their demographic info and behavior in your online community. Then, provide a steady stream of insightful and helpful information based on that profile.
Use the built-in survey system to conduct customer surveys in order to find out where you need improvements and make necessary changes. You can also hold contests using the gamification tools in your online community platform and events that keep your customers engaging and interacting with you often.
This has benefits beyond customer retention, such as upselling and other revenue opportunities. The more you do for your customers, the more likely it is that you will be the one they turn to when they need help again in the future. Take steps to make sure you are doing all you can to provide a great experience and consistent value both during and after each transaction.
Customer Retention Takeaway
Customers are important in business, but loyal customers are even more valuable. Once they have made a purchase and they are satisfied, then it is easier to turn them into repeat customers or long-term advocates.
This year, you must resolve to do more in order to keep your customers, not just increase the number of new ones. However, customer retention is rarely a transactional strategy. You can't realize that you have a customer retention problem in July and fix it by the end of the summer. Keeping your customers is a "long game" investment that takes planning, execution, and the right customer engagement tools at the beginning of the year to see results later in the year and going forward.
To retain more customers, you will need to:
- Keep an open dialog between you and the customers
- Produce valuable and exclusive content and special offers
- Stay at the top of customers' minds
Using your online customer community as a tool to accomplish these things can increase your success at maintaining a solid and loyal group of customers, whether there are only ten or ten thousand.
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net