Whether your business is B2B or B2C, the key to implementing a successful customer retention strategy is to Think Small, Think Personalized. The key is to understand that the strongest bond is between two people and people are what create a successful customer retention strategy.
The other day I had a meeting with the president of a mid-size payroll processing company. During lunch, he asked me a question and gave me the answer at the same time. He was obviously frustrated.
He told me that his payroll company, as well as other payroll companies with comparable revenues, have a customer retention issue. His company had on-going training, the latest technology, and unique product features in place. However, when contracts had to be renewed, many customers were lost. Other, smaller payroll companies, without the latest technology and best product enhancements, did not have a customer retention problem. He told me that customers of small companies know the owner well and the owners know their customers. They have strong relationships with their customers and it’s impossible to entice them with a different, even higher-tech product. He then asked me his question, “why do we have a customer retention problem?” I was eager to respond, but he had already answered his own question. It was about the bond between two people; that was the retention strategy of the smaller businesses.
No matter how large your company is, ask yourself how to scale personalized service where a specific person can build a strong business and personal relationship with the customer who is the primary decision maker or significant influencer, like the small company above. That person doesn’t have to be the owner; in fact, that is not feasible for any mid size or large firm.
One of my biggest irritations is hearing that it’s impossible to scale the concept of creating and building one-on-one customer relationships within a large company. Simply not true. I have a personal relationship with Rochelle, a retail associate at the largest store in the world, Macy’s at Herald Square. I have Rochelle’s email, home address and mobile number. When I think Macy’s, Rochelle comes to mind.
How can a company create the culture of personalized service?
- The best and easiest way to build a customer relationship is in person, but that is not always geographically possible or economically feasible. Obviously customers can be contacted by phone, email, and text. While not face to face, these connections are important and can be personalized too.
- The key to scaling one-on-one relationships is to develop a plan. Scale down and think small.
- Segment your customers into different categories. Devise a spreadsheet or use your CRM platform to list which customers will get personal visits. Schedule calls and emails to not only build the relationship but also provide additional, valuable information.
- Assign specific customers to individuals or small teams. Provide incentives for the teams. In almost every business, incentives are only provided for business acquisition, not for customer retention. Incentives can be a dinner for two, weekend away, tickets to show. Create an environment where the effort is appreciated and rewarded.
Remember, Think Small. The results will be colossal.