If you find yourself trying to plug the leaking bucket of customer attrition you’ll know it’s exhausting, stressful and profit sapping. A triple whammy that any business wants to avoid.
Businesses need customers, and if you can keep steadily converting enquiries while keeping your existing customers, your business will grow.
As technology expands, and businesses digitise, the way we do business is changing, but rather than this being the demise of customer service, it is becoming more important than ever.
That’s why we’ve put together a simple guide to the 7 things you can do to keep customers.
1 Keep customers – Make it easy for them
How easy do you make it for your customers to trade with you?
How welcoming are you?
How easy is your website to navigate?
How responsive are you to your customers, both new and old? Attention spans are diminishing, and if customers have to work to buy from you, chances are unless what you sell is SO exceptional or rare, they will go elsewhere.
2 Be helpful
I’ve just spent the morning trying to organise something with an organisation. I was dealing with a human being, who was reading questions from a computer screen. He asked me the same question several times, I didn’t feel listened to at any point in that process. What should have taken 10 minutes took a total of 45 minutes. He was the human version of “the computer says no”. And at the heart of it was the fact that the process, the system and the human voice just wasn’t very helpful. How helpful are you? How helpful are your people? Tone matters, the quality of the conversation matters.
Customers respond to helpful people, and are generally nicer to help; Nicer customers means less stressed employees. Less stressed employees tend to be more helpful. Win win.
3 Listen to your customers – Understand the real reason customers buy from you.
They will be your greatest source of information – any voice of the customer initiative will help you to understand what you get right and where you need to improve. Ask them, listen to what they have to say, and feed that into the areas of your business. Contact with customers isn’t about cost to your business, it can be the greatest source of insight into your business.
Daniel Plowright of Enquir3 says
“You work really hard to sign up a new client, they stay for a while and then at some point the ‘unexpectedly’ choose to work with another supplier.
The scary fact is that the average business loses 10-20% of their customer base each year.
Why? Over 60% of these customers leave because they feel their supplier is not working hard enough to maintain the relationship. Often it will be a really small irritation with some aspect of service that grows into an unreconcilable ‘issue’.
Remember, perception is reality. How do your customers perceive their relationship with you?”
4 Keep in touch with customers
Over the years, we’ve been involved in projects, where clients have asked customers why they stopped using them. Of course there may be service issues which weren’t put right, they might have lost business to an aggressive or talented competitor, but often the reason was startling. “We didn’t hear from you” they said, “but we heard from your competitor.”
Regular, quality contact helps keep you in the customer’s mind.
5 Be Proactive and take ownership
The bottom line is that other businesses are after your customers. If your customers don’t feel valued or understand the real value you bring, then you can lose them.
Amy Scott of Sedulous consulting and an expert in customer experience says “if you know something is going to disrupt service, let your customers know before this becomes a problem. If you say you will call them back at a certain time, call them back, even if you don’t have news to update them with. Keeping your promises has to be central to this, and that includes the promises you make in your value proposition.”
If there is a gap between your sales and marketing promises and your operational reality, customers will vote with their feet.
6 Get it right first time
When things go wrong they often go epically wrong.
Customer care isn’t a term which is used much these days, but taking care of your customers, and taking care with their requirements in order to minimise mistakes is good for your customers and your business. Making mistakes add costs to your business.
Checking details, showing that accuracy is important, using the phonetic alphabet to check spellings and post codes shows that you care to a customer, and above all else helps you to get it right, which is a great experience for the customer.
7 Put it right when things go wrong
Think about any problem you’ve had as a customer, and your frustration is often that the person you’re dealing with and therefore the company you are dealing with just doesn’t get the hassle they are causing you.
Your front-line team need to be able handle problems well for both your business and your customers. As customers opt to self-serve, a call into your organisation is in the customer’s mind an escalation of their issue. This means that your front-line teams will be dealing with more complex enquiries and escalations and they need to be equipped to manage those. Call handing skills, conflict management and complaint management are core skills for people in customer services.
Your first impression is important but your ‘Lasting Impression’ really counts. You are only as good as your last……. ( insert your product or service here ) And that is so true. Customers condense their memories into highs and lows, and ordinary doesn’t usually cut it. And it’s more than that, they remember the last experience they have with you, so if things do go wrong, your complaint handling skills and processes give you an opportunity to redeem yourself and create a raving fan. Done badly and you’ll lose a customer for good.
For ways we can help you to keep customers have a look at our in house customer service training.