Rick Meekins is the Managing Partner at Aepiphanni, a Business Consultancy, an Atlanta, GA based small business consultancy that provides Management Consulting, Implementation and Managed Services to business leaders and entrepreneurs seeking to improve or expand operations.
Keeping Old Customers in the New Year
5 simple strategies you can use to keep your old customers
The best customer you can get is the customer you already have. While many businesses focus on adding new customers, an important key to success is focusing on keeping customers you already have. Accenture’s 2013 study on customer behavior showed that 81 percent of customers who switched companies say the company could have done something to prevent the switch. That high percent equals lost sales that could have been saved. Marketing management site CMO.com also points out that customer retention actually leads to new customers through referrals by satisfied customers.
Creating a customer retention strategy can be as individual as your business. The best person to figure out how to keep customers is the one that found them in the first place. While experts can help with advice and guidance, it is up to each business to ensure the satisfaction of each customer.
Focusing on customer satisfaction should include these factors:
Respond to Your Customers – One of the biggest reasons customers go elsewhere is because they think a company isn’t listening, doesn’t care, and doesn’t respond to complaints or feedback. According to DollerVersity, you should create a response system that customers can recognize as coming from a real person. Automated responses, form letters, and other non-personal responses turn customers off.
Protect Your Customer – Customers prefer to feel their information is secure when using a business, especially a business that is online or collects personal information. A business that can protect them and provide fraud protection will increase a customer’s feeling of loyalty and increase the chances that they will continue to be a customer. Upgrade your security online and let customers know about it. Reassure them that they are safe using your services.
Make It Personal – Social media is here to stay, so getting on board and getting to know your customers can only help you. Facebook for Business offers an excellent way to combine a way to connect with current customers as well as find new ones.
Admit Mistakes and Accept Responsibility – No one wants to take the blame for things that are not their fault. However, customers quickly lose faith in a company that won’t own up to its own mistakes and take steps to make them right. Whether it is a mistake with a single customer, or is on a larger scale, admit the mistake and take steps to fix it. Customers are twice as likely to share their bad customer service experiences than they are to share a positive experience.
Empower Customer Service Representatives – Forrester Research found that 90 percent of customer service decision-makers felt that good customer service is critical. However, only 32 percent see improving call center interaction as a top goal. Empowering the service representatives should be a priority for improving customer retention. Ensuring consistent, quality customer service is achieved with ongoing customer service training programs, installing a quality monitoring system, using up-to-date equipment and software, and having a single-contact issue resolution policy. The biggest complaint about customer service, according to the Accenture study, is having to contact a company multiple times for the same issue.
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