Keep Churn Rates Down with Effective Customer Retention Strategies


Share on LinkedIn

Future return to your organization can often be found in the customers you already have, making customer retention a critical customer experience component.

Attracting new customers is one of the biggest challenges a business faces no matter the industry. Customers, new and existing, are the lifeblood of any organization.

It takes a considerable amount of time and resources to grow your customer base especially amidst a competitive market. Instead of constantly spending your money and your marketing efforts on gaining new customers, you should give just as much focus on keeping your existing customers and making their experience better.

Customer retention is the activity that a selling organization undertakes in order to reduce customer defections.

Successful customer retention starts with the first contact an organization has with a customer and continues throughout the entire lifetime of a relationship.

A customer retention plan of action based on effective customer retention strategies is key to keeping those precious customers you already have.

Customer Retention with Excellent Customer Service

Maintaining your customers starts with building a genuine relationship with them that goes beyond basic financial transactions. You need to show them that you truly care about their concerns regarding your product/service. You must be able to provide excellent customer service, and you can only do that by opening lines of communication between your business and your customers.

That same level of exceptional service needs to remain consistent for customers from the pre-sales and purchasing process to the post-sale customer and product support period. One of the challenges that affects customer retention is that organizations often are build on processing sales much more effectively than supporting customers post-sale, leading to frustrated customers and customers who are willing to try out a competitors looking for that improved experience.

I recently had to switch Internet service providers. When I called to schedule an install with a technician, the company was able to have someone at my house the very next day. Unfortunately, a day later, I noticed problems with the Internet connection, I wasn’t getting the speeds advertised with the plan I had purchased. A call to technical support quickly identified that there was an issue with the setup of the connection, a relatively simple problem to resolve. However, a support technician to fix and existing customer issue wouldn’t be available for 4 business days. 4 BUSINESS DAYS!!!

I would be better off canceling the service right then and then calling back to schedule a new install, since for new installs, the company could have a technician available the very next day. You can see why customer retention today is abysmal, customers are fed up with the two-faced approach to customer service.

Another area of frequent customer frustration leading to lower retention is the inability of customers to contact customer service in a timely manner. When we need support the most, companies seem to be “offiline” or “experiencing high volumes of calls”.

There are various platforms that you can use to interact with customers. There is the traditional route of setting up a call center or hiring a third-party to take complaints, troubleshoot problems, and conduct surveys. There are more options online such as email, social media, and live chat on your business’ own website.

Although it pays to cover every area so your customers can easily reach you anytime and anywhere, you might not have the money or the manpower to effectively run each and every one of those points of contact. If you see that one platform isn’t getting much traction, don’t be afraid to cut it loose and cut down your costs.

Whichever channels you do choose to use, there are general customer service principles that you need to keep in mind.

What companies need to discover, and then reward and recognize, are key service elements that build stronger customer relationships. Above all, don’t reward quicker service — reward better service.

Timeliness in response is key, especially when dealing with customers online who expect quick responses, but what takes a higher priority for customers is the quality of your response. Customers can be frustrated (and understandably so) and they don’t want their time to be wasted. Your customer support team must then be able to provide real solutions or at least directions to where your customers can find answers, and they have to do it in a respectful manner.

Personal Engagement Increases Customer Retention

Another important element in building a genuine relationship with your customers is fostering a personal connection with each one. They need to feel like their sensibilities line up with your business’ overall branding, as if your brand itself reinforces their identity. When they have an emotional investment in your success, you can be sure that they will remain loyal.

Coming up with a vision and a set of values that define your business is then crucial, as those ideals don’t just give your company a direction but they also provide the touch points that allow your target audience to relate to you on a human level. You won’t be able to capture every piece of the market, but the people that do identify with your business will find it much easier to stay as your customers.

In line with providing great customer support, you should also try taking the extra step to make your customers feel special through a more personalized service. Don’t worry about the extra expenses such as offering free repairs, replacements, or shipping to appease customers who experience problems with your business through no fault of their own. What costs you in winning their hearts back will pay for itself for their continued patronage and eventual brand advocacy.

You do have to remember that true customer engagement isn’t a one-way street. You want your customers to take an active role in improving your business for them to accept that they are part of it. Giving them a space to air out their opinions in customer support is the foundation, but you can build on that by taking their suggestions and implementing them after proper review.

Surveys are then critical in including your customers in the engagement process. It’s an avenue for collecting customer feedback that isn’t just for complaints, giving you a good idea of what your company is already doing right for customer satisfaction. You can show them gratitude for sharing their opinions through public recognition or giving them freebies. These small acts of appreciation can solidify their perception of you as a business that listens.

Loyalty Programs and Rewards to Keep The Customers You Have

As a follow up on giving gifts to customers who experience problems, you also need to think of rewarding the customers who have been supporting your company for a period of time. There is a cost of customer retention when implementing rewards and other loyalty programs, but the return is positive to your organization if it means keeping customers who would have otherwise switched to a competitor.

A few customer retention ideas include offering services, discounts, giveaways, and invites to events that are all exclusive to loyal customers are just a couple of ideas that you can use for your loyalty program. Just remember to tailor your rewards to what your customers actually desire.

In conjunction with personally engaging your customers, you can tie the rewards into specific actions that your customers can do, such as sharing a piece of content through social media or purchasing a particular product on a special occasion like a birthday or a holiday. These ideas don’t just build on the dynamic relationship between you and your customers, but also mobilize them into marketing your business.

Rewards don’t have to be restricted to customers who’ve stuck with your business for years. It’s better to give new customers an early pass in getting into your loyalty program, as it gives them the incentive to stick around when they know they can receive bonuses in the near future. Tier your loyalty program in such a way that the longer customers stay, the better the rewards they’ll get. Those in the entry level will be given a goal, while those who’ve been loyal for years will truly feel like they’re VIPs and therefore stick with your business.

The key to a long and thriving business lies in how you treat your customers. Engage them in an active back-and-forth relationship, take their misgivings and praises into account, reward them accordingly for their patronage, and you can be sure to have them continuing to purchase your products and avail of your services. In the end, they will be vouching for your brand’s quality, care, and trustworthiness to others, leading to even more new customers.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Flavio Martins
Flavio Martins is the VP of Operations and Customer Support at DigiCert, Inc., a leading provider of enterprise authentication services and high-assurance SSL certificates trusted by thousands of government, education, and Fortune 500 organizations. Flavio is an award-winning customer service blogger, customer service fanatic, and on a mission to show that organizations can use customer experience as a competitive advantage win customer loyalty. Blog: Win the Customer!


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here