Working on customer retention

The biggest challenge in business is giving customers what they want; chances are if they’re still with us, we’re meeting their needs. Statistically, all customers eventually leave, but our businesses demand we keep them as long as possible. So how do we continue to do it better?

The only way to do business better is to talk to the customers. Less than 1% of customers won’t tell you unless asked, and most companies make it really hard to offer feedback.

As an example, when I dealt with a problem from our local cable company, the service representative was one inch short of rude, uninformed about the service to be provided, and unable to access my account. I asked to speak with a supervisor, but that didn’t happen; I was left on hold too long and no one ever called back. In other words, the lousy service stayed with the company. A few days ago, with another company, I wanted to compliment someone for a job really well-done; a service representative who went beyond the call of duty to help, but it was too hard to find the right extension, no live support was offered, and consequently  I never was able to offer any positive feedback.

Companies need to make it easy to provide feedback. I’ve seen it many times lately suggesting that companies go retro and bring the human back to answering dedicated customer service lines. Customers value a company doing it right; back to the adage, you only have one opportunity to make a first impression. Answer the phone and don’t keep them on hold too long. Survey customers, ask them for their opinions, be a human voice on the other end.

If a company doesn’t give a customer a good reason to stay, the competition will give your customers a good reason to leave, and we all know cultivating the loyalty of one customer is many times more profitable than finding a new one. If active customers are shown to be appreciated by promotions, discounts, sweepstakes, loyalty programs, birthday cards, and even thank-you notes, the company has done something for them. That creates customer retention.

Of course a company’s marketing resources are limited, and a company can’t spend the same amount of advertising money on all customers, but each company should develop a method to allocate funds to the most profitable promotions and to deliver to the right customers ; those customers who have been consistent patrons and the most valued.

photo credit: unruly chaffinch

One Response to “Working on customer retention”

  1. Kevin Stirtz said:

    Mar 30, 10 at 2:55 pm

    Hi Cheryl – the contact email bounced back so this is the only way I know to contact your or Doug.

    ServiceUntitled has been named a Top 10 customer service blog:

    Just thought you’d like to know.

    Take care!

    Kevin Stirtz