Customer retention is a bit like the red headed stepchild in the customer service space. Everyone agrees that it's important, but pulling resources to support customer retention and loyalty programs can be a challenge. But what could be more important than making sure that your customers stay with you rather than go to one of your competitors? Sounds simple enough, after all, it’s easier to keep current customers than it is to find new ones. But customer retention can be tougher than you think. Today’s market is highly competitive and customer’s expectations are exceedingly high in every industry. Let’s face it, customers have numerous options across the board from cell-phone carriers, to retailers, to auto-body/repair shops, and a single bad experience with your customer service can send them running for the hills (and telling all their friends about it).
Tips for building customer retention
So, how does a company differentiate itself from the myriad of others that are all vying for the customer’s loyalty? Well, here at Spoken, we have found the following tips have served us well and enabled us to enjoy a high rate of customer retention.
- Know your value While there are less expensive and more established call center cloud providers out there, no one is more experienced with the technical cloud transition process than Spoken. So we leverage the experise of our management team to act more as consultants rather than salespeople. And we get our customers on board, too--they help us share the story of how we stood by every step of the transition to the cloud. If your brand isn't the least expensive or the fastest, what special value do you provide? Why do your customers choose you over the competition? Find that value and trumpet it to the hills!
- Provide valuable and relevant content; give first People like to do business with people they know, like and trust. Trust is the foundation of any relationship, and that principle applies to business relationships as well. When we launched in 2005, our brand was unknown, and we didn't have buckets of cash to spend on marketing. So we looked at what we did have: a few customers who trusted us with their business, and a management team with a wealth of experience in the call center space. So we started an outreach program, writing weekly blog posts to share our expertise for free and providing valuable content that could make a difference in our potential clients' businesses. We focused on the customer service industry, covering topics from cloud infrastructure to employee relations to avoiding sickness in the workplace. In addition to our regular blog posts, we also send out a monthly e-mail newsletter with the latest product updates, live demos and time-saving technology to our clients. This is just one more way that we can stay connected and engaged with our clients on a regular basis and continue to build on the trust we’ve established with them.
- Make it about them, not you Social media has taken the world by storm. There are a number of social platforms available that will allow your organization to stay engaged with your customers in a non-sales environment. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn are among the top social media sites, with more being added all the time. Many brands make the mistake of treating social media as a megaphone to shout their brand messaging at others. While it is important to include your product announcements, you get the most bang for your social media buck by being social. ReTweet your client's award announcement; comment on their daughter's win at the robotics competition; tag them in a virtual reality news article you think they'll like. In short, engage on social media by making it about the customer, not about you.
- Stay ahead of the game This relates back to the expertise mentioned above, but we have found that when we can help a client look down the road a bit and anticipate changes before they arise, we, again, make ourselves indispensable to them. Anticipating your customer’s needs is something that can be adopted and applied by all industries, not just the customer service industry. When we make ourselves indispensable to our clients, they are not likely to be tempted by our competition.
- Provide a great product Perhaps we should have listed this one first, but when it comes to retaining customers, product quality is only a part of the picture. Still, make sure your marketing and customer loyalty efforts aren't empty hype: start with a great product, solicit customer feedback for needed improvements and tell customers when you've take their advice to make the product better.
What do you think are they keys to customer retention? What programs have you implemented that worked well?