The Value of Returning Customers – Retention vs Acquiring New
It is easy for a company to focus so hard on gaining new customers that they lose sight of the value of their existing client base. The cost to retain a customer is a fraction of the cost to obtain a new one, and yet companies continually pour resources into sales tactics that focus on acquiring new customers rather than finding ways to retain those they already have. In the words of Karl Stark and Bill Stewart, co-founders of Avondale in their Inc. story, “It’s cheaper, easier, and more effective to retain current customers than it is to acquire new ones.” A simple shift in your thinking to focus on your existing clients can build you a profitable client base for years to come.
Offer Genuine Customer Service.
In today’s bottom-line drive business environment, companies often focus on ways to save money while losing sight of their customers. This is a sure way to drive customers away from a company, and to get stuck in an endless cycle of new customer acquisition. For instance, when companies utilize very complicated automatic or electronic systems for responding to customer complaints, it can leave a bad taste in the mouth of the customer.
The simple act of speaking to another human and being reassured that concerns are being addressed makes customers feel valued by a company. By using a call center to respond to customer inquiries, and by implementing straightforward procedures for responding to customer satisfaction issues, you can help create a client that returns to you again and again.
Customer service goes beyond addressing complaints however. Focus on the details, such as high quality packaging to ensure customer orders are never damaged in transit, can help create happy customers from their very first interaction with your company.
Instructions, FAQs and How-to
Any documentation related to your company or your product should be well designed, well written, and clearly communicate answers to customer questions. This applies to online documentation as well as physical manuals and instructions that are packaged with products.
Remember, if a customer can find the answer to any question they have on their own, they retain a sense of independence and a positive impression of your product. Even with the best customer service team in place, a customer that never has to call is always preferable, and clear online and offline documentation can help achieve this.
Speed is Everything
The Internet has created a culture of instant gratification. In order to keep your customers happy you now have to focus on responding to all customer contact as promptly as possible. Irrelevant and redundant steps in all ordering or customer service processes need to be eliminated. Modern customers also have no patience for waiting. This means that you want a call center team in place that will answer calls in under 30 seconds whenever possible. If the wait time will be longer, a call-back service helps customers carry on with their business without having to sit on hold.
Using CRM Technological Advances
Modern CRM software has the capability integrate with a phone system so that your call center agents can have customer information at their fingertips from the moment the call starts. This is a great way to speed up the entire call process for your customers.
Training and Responsibility
These are two key elements to keep in mind when putting together a call center team. Agents must be knowledgeable enough to respond to customer requests and inquiries. It is also important to give your team the power to actually resolve customer complaints. Calls that always require escalation to a manager for example, often leave customers feeling like their time has been wasted.
None of these steps are difficult or time consuming to implement, but they can make a big difference in how customers perceive your company. By paying attention to every detail of the customer experience, you create the kind of ongoing and stable client base that leads to long term profitability and growth. Click here for more tips on customer retention.