A lot of factors go into keeping your customers. Especially in the case of B2B companies, customer retention can be a complex challenge. However, despite its intricacies, reducing your retention rates can have a significant effect on your profits.
Research has shown that reducing customer churn by a mere 5% can increase your profits by 25-125%. With those kinds of numbers, your current customers suddenly seem a lot more valuable.
While there is a lot that goes into keeping customers over the course of their lifecycle, it starts with a strong foundation. One of the cornerstones an effective customer retention strategy is ensuring your customers get value from the relationship, specifically get results your products of services.
When they're achieving real business-level outcomes, they're more likely to remain customers. This helps minimize intangibles, like how a customer feels about your company or a specific frustrating customer service interaction. In many cases, as long as your product is working for them and continuing to produce results, your customers will generally be happy.
The tricky part is making sure your customers are making the most of your product of service to really receive that level of results.
For example, consider a marketing software company. In that case, your business is providing the base platform and then it's up to your customers to leverage the tools in different ways depending on their specific objectives, markets, and capacity. This can create a disconnect when companies sell a product, but don't create a clear path for how to get the results their customers need.
Luckily, your online customer community can help bridge this gap by providing customers with the guidance and support network they need to get better results from your products or services.
Often your customers will get a faster response from other customers and partners within the community than they would from a traditional "submit a ticket" system.
The ability to connect with other product users leads to a support network that can readily dispense quality advice. This helps to avoid potential frustration customers might experience when they're questions aren't quickly answered, as well as strengthens the value of your community.
Putting It In Practice: Direct customers to forums and listservs as go-to places for getting advice. Put processes in place to help customer create a habit of asking and answering questions in your customer community discussion forums.
Since the information and groups in online communities are segmented, customers won't have to dig through the irrelevant content to find helpful tips and tricks for making the most of a product.
Customers can even search for help by using profile searches to find experts willing to connect. While having experts in your community adds to your company's credibility, their advice can also unlock hidden potential for your customers to get value from your solutions.
Putting It In Practice: Content delivery platforms built into online customer community software, like blogs, videos, and file libraries, are often used to house helpful tips, tricks, and how-tos. You can even host events and webinar series to demonstrate how customers can get more out of your products and services.
Being able to read through posts from other customers who have had similar struggles or experiences can be extremely eye-opening and helpful for new customers.
Viewing examples and learning from descriptions of how other customers have achieved success can help more complicated processes click for customers who otherwise might not have figured it out on their own.
Putting It In Practice: Learning from other community members can happen just about anywhere in your community, but publishing educational case studies is an especially effective way to draw attention to product successes.
You might even consider featuring certain community members in an ongoing "featured customer" blog who have found ways to get tangible results from your solution as examples of how it can be done.
Learning a new product can be overwhelming for people. Most of your customers focus on a specific feature set to solve an acute short-term problem when the relationship begins. Unfortunately, many don't expand their understand of your products and services over time.
Don't be afraid to simply tell members about how to get the most value out of your products or services. They most likely want to know and no one knows your products better than you do.
Your community can be an ideal place to centralize and share this information with a large population of your audience. By systematically zeroing in on one specific feature or strategy, you can help customers who might be overwhelmed by too many choices.
Putting It In Practice: Create a special column in your customer community's email newsletter that highlights a new feature each issue or create a video that walks viewers through a tutorial on what they can do with your solution.
Publicize the additional uses for your product through various types of community content so customer community members will have several opportunities to notice.
Though products are getting easier to use, product training is still an important part of helping your customer base fully take advantage of your products and services to get results. More importantly, customers expect it.
This training might come in the form of self-serve training from videos and documentation in your customer community's resource libraries or live event training that you can manage through your customer community software.
Taking the time to creating train programs customers might seem like a big undertaking at first, but the potential benefits to your company's profits make this process well worth the effort.
Putting It In Practice: Online webinars, videos, or documents in your file library can all provide quality self-serve training. However, make sure you promote these materials and direct your community members to training resources. Live training makes participation a bit easier since customers are physically present to learn about obtaining real business outcomes and network with other customers.
Customer retention plays a large role in your company's financial stability and growth. Customer retention starts with delivering the expected results for customers when they purchase your product or service.
If your customers continue to derive measurable value from the products they've purchased, they'll have little reason to stop patronizing your company. However, these results are not instant, especially with more complex products.
Leverage your online customer community to teach customers how to produce results. Consistently highlighting the value of your product beyond its basic uses shows that your company is focused on helping customers succeed and gives your customers a reason to stay in the relationship.