By now, you know how important customer retention can be to the future of your business. You know that acquiring new customers costs five times as much as retaining the customers you currently have. You've probably seen research suggesting that improving your customer churn by just 5% can produce a profit increase anywhere from 25-125%. Do you also know that 80% of your future revenue is likely to come from just 20% of your current customers?
The problem with customer retention is that it isn't as simple as "are my customers satisfied with my product?" Just as there are lots of reasons people buy from you, there are also lots of reasons people remain your customers.
What REALLY Drives Customer Retention?
Getting the expected results from your product or service is just one of the ways you can create customers for life. Many of the reasons customers end up sticking around are the intangibles that crop up at different phases of the consumer relationship.
When you're so focused on the "does my product produce the necessary results?" question, it's easy to lose sight of these under-the-surface questions that concern your customers. However, taking the time to identify and address them in a systematic way can help you build stronger relationships with your customers before retention becomes an issue.
While these common"”but less concrete"”questions vary from customer to customer and from product to product, there are some standards that seem to apply to the psychology of customers across the board. Here are eight below-the-surface questions that frequently concern customers.
What's Going on in Your Customers' Heads When It Comes to Continuing to Do Business With your Company?
Question #1) Am I Alone?
Often, your customers are the only person in their organization using your product, so they don't have anyone to turn to with questions or complications. When they encounter challenges, they wonder if they're the only one who is having the problem they're having.
Feeling alone is not only isolating, but it can cause your customers to second guess the experience they're having with your product.
Question #2) Does My Vendor Care About Me Or My Success?
Your customers don't want to feel like you've lost interest in them once the sale is complete. They still want to feel cared for and supported throughout their journey. Creating opportunities for communication and easy access to support helps to show them that your company has a continued interest in their success long after the initial purchase transaction is complete.
Implementing systems that let your customers know that they have a partner in success is a leading contributor to how likely your customers are to stick with your company in the future.
Question #3) What Is My Vendor's Future And How Do I Fit In?
Your customers are smart enough to know that your company is going to grow and change over time. As your company evolves, customers are sensitive to any notion that you'll go in a different direction than they expect, or that you'll no longer fit they're needs down the line.
Communicating openly and putting processes in place to help the leaders of your company displaying a degree of transparency about your plans (in a secure customers-only environment) can help ease their concerns or prepare them for what's to come.
Question #4) Am I Heard?
Your customers have suggestions and feedback that need to be heard. Simply having a system in place for them to voice feedback demonstrates that your company cares about what customers think and how they use your product or service.
Finding other ways to let customers know their problems and ideas don't go unheard can go a long way in increasing customer satisfaction and building a long-term partnership with them.
Question # 5) How Do Other Customers Do It?
Sales people can go through product features all day long, but customers are still going to wonder how other people and organizations are putting your solutions to use. In my experience, many people learn faster through example. Your customer most likely are thirsty for examples of how others have achieved results or solve specific problems.
Giving your customers a space to connect with other customers, like a private online customer community, allows them to share ideas and tricks of the trade.
Question #6) Is My Vendor A Thought Leader In My Industry?
Your customers want to know that they picked a company that is invested in their industry. Showing your customers that your company not only has a strong understanding of their industry, but is also on the cutting edge of what's happening in their field helps maintain your credibility.
Leverage blogs in your customer community to consistently publish tips, industry news, and your organization's unique perspective on how your customers can improve their performance.
Question #7) Are They Investing In The Product I Am Using?
Customers get worried when they think that you aren't continuously investing in the product they've purchased or that you won't continue down the path of innovation.
Use a combination of product update blogs, videos from product executives, email communication, and customer events to keep customers informed about updates to your product and what that means for them. Providing customers with insight into your plans builds confidence for the future.
Question #8) Am I Missing Anything?
Even if your product is working well for your customers, they might not know if they're taking advantage of all the benefits and capabilities it has to offer. Provide a way for customers to share what they are doing, as well as reach out to other customers.
Common examples include peer-to-peer customer communities, "featured customer" blogs inside your secure customer community, and live or virtual customer events. Giving customers the proper channels to find out what else they can do with your product helps to answer this question and remove any doubt.
Customers Retention Takeaway
Making sure that you customers remain your customers takes a lot more than having a fantastic product. There is even more to it than delivering the results that were promised during the sales process.
While many solutions can be combined to address these customer concerns, increasingly business are leveraging customer community platforms to manage customer communication, help customers connect with their peers, and give customers a voice "“ turning one-way customer marketing into a two-way conversation that continues to strengthen the relationship.
What drives customer retention at your organization? Add your experience in the comments below.