The Customer Satisfaction Balancing Act


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As a senior executive, you’re familiar with balancing competing and sometimes conflicting priorities. How do you master the balancing act between attracting new customers and retaining the customers you already have?

Sales professionals’ number one priority is attracting new customers

Attracting new customers is often viewed as a clearly defined role and area of responsibility – sales. Sales professionals hone their skills at attracting opportunities and “closing” deals; they are thoroughbreds, respected and honoured as the lifeblood of many organizations.

We give them sales targets and extravagant compensation packages to reward them. Their number one priority – making sales!

But what about the existing customers?

At The Dunvegan Group, we often we see there’s far more emphasis on attracting new customers than on customer retention.

In fact, it’s not unusual for the sales thoroughbreds to be responsible for customer retention as well. Nurturing and caring for existing customers, answering questions and solving problems are rarely strengths of your most aggressive and successful sales people. And, typically we don’t reward salespeople for performing these tasks, never mind training them how to effectively deal with discontented customers. This scenario can quickly lead to customers feeling frustrated and neglected.

What’s to be done to balance the desire for new sales against the need to nurture and care for the customers in-hand?

One option is to train the salesforce to deal with disgruntled customers, teach them to develop and nurture their customer relationships, and reward them for renewals. In other words, try to force these sales specialists to undertake tasks and responsibilities that give them no joy.

A better approach is to split the salesforce into two groups – each with unique skills:

Group A – hunts for, tracks and closes new customer deals – then transitions them to …

Group B – who nurtures and cares for – sometimes referred to as hugging – the customers to ensure that the customers’ expectations are met and the experience in dealing with your company is positive.

Each group is hired for specialized skills and compensated according to its primary goal. Group A is rewarded for new sales and Group B is rewarded for renewals.

If we think about the leaky bucket – with new customers flowing in the top and customers in-hand leaking out the bottom – Group A is responsible for bringing customers into the top of the bucket and Group B is responsible for plugging the leaks! Group A needs to fly high and run fast – Group B needs to dive and swim underwater to patch the leaks.

What about opportunities for upsell, cross-sell and general expansion with the customers in-hand?

A Customer Care and Retention program, where an outside firm contacts existing customers to assess their level of satisfaction with the products and services received, can not only help the organization to effectively manage customer relationships and maximize the likelihood of renewal, it can also uncover opportunities for generating new revenue from existing customers.

A question such as: “What challenges or obstacles are you dealing with, in general?” or “What products or services do you wish our company would provide that are not available today?” will uncover opportunities for our clients to present a solution.

Often the Group B, customer care person, will work with the original Group A, sales specialist, to develop and close the sale. And both parties are rewarded.

Balancing the challenge of new sales and renewals by staffing with specialized skills, aligning compensation and rewards to specific goals and providing customer insights to support both teams makes sound business sense!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Anne Miner
Anne Miner, the founding partner of The Dunvegan Group, first entered the field of marketing and survey research in 1974. Since then, she has been the lead consultant on assignments across virtually all product and service categories, from diapers to transportation. Anne is respected for her ability to work closely with her clients' teams to identify the issues to be investigated, focus on what is actionable and develop creative solutions.


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