The average business loses around 24 percent of its customers annually simply by failing to attend to customer relationships. Irony is that the company invests a huge amount of time, efforts and expenses in building that initial customer relationship. Then this relationship goes unattended. Sometimes immediately after the sale has been made, sales-person loses interest in those clients. Eventually then those clients tend to forget your company and opt the other options open in market. This drops down company’s growth rate drastically.
Most companies don’t realize that the fastest, cheapest and lowest risk way of protecting their business is not only finding new customers, but nurturing existing customers as well. This is Customer Retention.
For startups, the customer retention is crucial in order to build the strong customer base to pull profit from.
Customer Retention begins with the first contact a customer has with a company and continues throughout the entire lifetime of the relationship, earning and maintaining their loyalty continuously.
Customer Retention is the measure of customer loyalty and the capacity of the business to keep its existing customers satisfied by good quality and good services offered after the product is sold. It is influenced by how many new customers are acquired and how many existing customers churn by canceling their subscription or closing their contract or not returning back.
Why Customer Retention is Important ?
Retaining customers are the most significant drivers of the company’s revenue growth and for the long-term business success.
1] Affordability — The most companies spend more time and money on customer acquisition as they feel it is a quick and effective way of increasing revenue. But, the research shows that keeping an existing customer is often faster and costs five to ten times less than that of acquiring a new one. Selling your product/services to customers with whom you already have developed a trust and relationship is naturally easier, cheaper and affordable, as it minimizes the time and energy to attract, educate and convert new ones.
2] Loyalty — The returning customers are the best customers for any business. It proves that the customers are happy and satisfied both with the product and the services given to them by the company. Happy customers are more loyal and buy more often and keep coming again and again.
3] Referrals — Satisfied, loyal customers tend to refer their friends and families, bringing in other potential customers, free of cost. Then it becomes the best positive word-of-mouth advertisement of your product.
4] Profitability — Customer retention has a direct impact on profitability. According to the Harvard Business School, an increase in customer retention by just 5 percent, can lead to an increase in profits by 25 percent to 95 percent. Hence Customer Retention plays a vital role in hiking growth rate.
5) Diversification — It is always easier to introduce new products in an existing market. Since the trust has already been established with your customers with regards to your services and products it is easier to diversify and introduce new products or services to them.
The easiest way to grow your customers is not to lose them.
When companies dedicate time, resources and creativity to improve customer retention, not only does it make customers happy, it brings the companies more success.
Customer Retention Strategy
There are plenty of customer retention strategies you can implement to ensure that your customers stay with you. Some of those are mentioned below :
1] Superior products and service quality — By providing superior quality products and services, you minimize the problems encountered by customers and create goodwill towards the company. This is most likely to bind the customers to your company.
“Jio scores highest on customer loyalty and customer service with its convenience, data coverage, data speeds, and handset choice. They also outscored Vodafone and Idea in voice quality and voice coverage.
2] Set customer expectations early and often — Earlier the better. Give your customers something to look forward. Set their expectations early and little lower than you can provide to eliminate uncertainty about the level of your service and to ensure your always deliver on your promises.
3] Build trust through relationships — Building relationships with clients garner their trust. As trust increases, commitment tends to grow. Build trust through shared values. Take interest in your clients and their business. Find the way to assist them through the services you provide. Give them a follow-up call and let them know what you come up with. This shows you have a shared value.
4] Be the best advisor — You need to be the expert in your field so that you can educate your customers and be their best advisor. This gains customers’ trust and build customers’ loyalty.
5] Proactive approach to customer services – is an approach to customer support in which the companies make the first move to help customers. They go out of their way to first find potential problems and then resolve them before customers need to ask for help. Proactive customer services begins even before customer walks in the door. Instead of waiting for problems to occur, implement anticipatory service to eliminate the problems. For eg.. Air France-KLM implemented Pega, (a proactive customer service) to help their passengers facing irregularities. It offers customers the new intuitive self-service solutions.
6] Go above and beyond – You need to go above and beyond your regular duties to provide customer service that truly stands out. With a little know-how and effort, you can show customers that they are important to you at any time. Try to accommodate emergency orders and last-minute changes when possible, especially for important occasions such as weddings or a big trade shows. Customers remember your prompt response to their needs.
6] Give a courtesy call — Give the customers a quick courtesy call to make sure that everything regarding product delivered, is proper and you are there to take care in case of any short-comings. For eg.. Dell computers does this very well. Roughly two to three weeks after expected delivery of a Dell product, a customer service representative gives the customer a courtesy call to make sure the product has arrived and the customer is happy with it. This approach bolster customer loyalty and render their retention.
6] Go the extra mile — Write a letter to thank each of your customers for making their first purchase. Leverage Customer Loyalty program. Starbucks executed ‘My Starbucks Rewards’ and loyalty mobile apps which helped them acquire the dominating position in the coffee house market.
7] Give loyal customers special perks — They say that 80 percent of your business comes from 20 percent of your customers. This is known as the Pareto Principle. Entrepreneurs can use this principle to determine the top-performing customers and create rewards programs. By rewarding your top-performing customers, you can enhance customer loyalty and secure continued business from them. Offer them special perks like specific job titles, special invites etc.
Go out of way to thank those customers who have helped you in revenue generation either by a purchase or word-of-mouth marketing publicity or by mentioning on social media. Thank them personally in unique way. Show that you care for them and want to make sure everything is taken care. Personalized services strengthen their bone with your brand.
10] Premiums and gifts — Keep your customers happy. Reciprocate good gestures. Offer membership cards or frequent buyer programs as direct incentives for customer retention. Surprising offers make your customers feel like they’re part of something bigger. Offer them free gifts and occasional discounts when they aren’t expecting it. This will definitely change the lens through which they see your business.
11] Use blogs to educate the customers and keep them engaged — It builds trust and shows that you are an expert on the topic. It forms a point of differentiation over your competitors. It also gives more touch points to communicate with customers, leading to a stronger and more loyal business relationship.
7] Follow your customers on social media — Use social media to build relationships – Use LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, emails to connect and communicate with customers and give them a space for sharing experiences with your company, so they can become brand ambassadors.
8] Extraordinary Customer Service — Keep your customers satisfied so that they tell others how well they were treated when doing business with you. Key facets are customer satisfaction by every employee, providing immediate response, no buck passing, consistent on-time delivery, a zero-defects and error-free-delivery process. Poor service will drive your customers to your competition. Hence provide extraordinary customer service to build fortune in repeat customers.
9] Rolling calendars — Develop the frequently communicating calendars system. This should include phone calls, sequences of letters, events, thank you’s, special offers, follow-ups, magic moments, cards, personal notes, etc. at the specific intervals constantly and automatically during pre-sales, sales and post-sales processes. This way the customers feel valued and acknowledged. It reinforce the reason of their next purchases from you.
11] Every complaint is a gift —
Consider every complaint as a gift. Understand that the customer has given you another chance to impress them. Follow-up with all complaints religiously. This way you build their trust and can retain them.
12] Use content marketing — By ramping up your content marketing you not only reach a wider audience of potential customers but you will also remain at the top of mind of your existing customers who are then more likely to be retained.
11] Use live webinars to educate and inspire customers — Engaging your customers in a webinar gives them the avenue to learn more about your product/services. Customers are also allowed to ask their queries during webinars. Also they can give suggestions that will get definitely considered. This builds trust with customers.
13] Share testimonials with the world — Testimonials speak for you since they aren’t your words, but customers. This is the more effective way of retaining existing customers and also absorbing new ones. Set up a dedicated testimonial and case studies on your social sites.
14] Implement customer feedback surveys —
Asking for feedback make customers feel valued, and you might receive some useful recommendations in the process. Give them an opportunity to fill out a survey form where they can express what they like about your services/product and can write suggestions thereon. If they feel that their ideas are being heard and implemented, they will form a lasting relationship with your brand that can’t be easily replaced.
15] Focus on employees retention and satisfaction — A company with a high turnover rate may not be able to maintain strong personal relationships with its customers. Even if relationships are established, the problem occurs when the contact person leaves the job. The customer may decide to take its business to a new company. Thus the high turnover creates a negative environment and reduces the quality of service provided to customers. In order to reduce turnover, it is important to encourage the employees with career development opportunities.
Thus Customer Retention strategies don’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. They just need to focus on empowering customers by letting them know that they are important to the company and company do care about them.
Incepted in 1952 by Mr.G.K.Pendharkar, Chairman, Vicco Laboratories (Vicco Ayurvedic products) company had the major goal to make the boons of Ayurveda available to every home within India and also in outside world. Today they are the makers of the best products of Ayurveda all over the world conquering Asia, Europe, America, Africa and Australia.
The successful businesses are based on goals, as it define the purpose of the business and help analyze necessary action plans.
For my business purpose, I visit entrepreneurs every day. My observation is that most of these entrepreneurs do not have clear goals. Unless you have clear goals about what and when to achieve, it is very difficult to reach there.
A goal can be defined as an expected state that a company endeavors to achieve.
There are objectives to be set, to reach a goal. An objective is a short-term target to accomplish, with a deadline.
If you are going for a business meeting, unless you fix the time and venue of the meeting, you will not be able to conduct the meeting. In your business, where you spend your 60 percentt. time, it is critical to set goals, i.e. where and when you want to reach. Goals provide a sort of blueprint that can plot a course of action to be taken.
So, if you really want to be a successful, first set your business goals.
Goals Setting is the process of establishing short or long term, time-bound business objectives which result in smart achievements within stipulated time.
Do remember the SMART points when you set your business goal. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound.
Specific – First identify the resources and funds that you’ll need to invest in the business, then plan concise and concrete goals. Rather than saying “I want to earn more through my business this year”, specify the definite amount and say “I want to increase my revenues by ‘x’ percent by the end of this year”. If the goal is specific, there are better chances of achieving it.
Measurable -It should be quantified. Measure your goals in terms of specific numbers. Instead of saying “I want to make the whole India as my target market”, specify the exact cities you want to cover. Also, “By the end of two years, the total number of employees’ strength should be 2000” Or “Company revenue generation should be Rs.5 crores by year ending 2020”. These can be your measurable goals. So frame your goals in systematic way measuring it with exact numbers.
Achievable – Lets take an example of how we can set Achievable goals.
If your company has a turnover of Rs. 10 crores and the growth rate is 30 percent per year, then, if all factors remain same, we can assume the minimum turnover of the company would be 30 percent more, that is Rs.13 crores.Lets say your desirable or dream goal isRs.20 crores for next year which is 100 percent more. If the desirable target goal for a short period is very aggressive, then most of the time, it is given up.An ideal way would be, to find a stretched target which is between the minimum and desirable. You can set it at Rs.16 crores which is 60 percent more. So Rs. 16 crores is the Achievable target.
Relevant – Keep your focus on your vision as to why you have formed the company. Your goal setting should be relevant to your company’s vision.
Time-bound – Keep your goals time-bound. Give reasonable deadlines to your goals. Divide the goal part by part into smaller timely achievements. Means the goals can be broken down into quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily objectives. It can be then measured over time.
Follow a particular timetable. Your timetable influences your actions remarkably, focusing only on the activities which contribute to achieve the goals without wasting time.
Infosys Ltd., under the management, in the year 2015, asked its employees, their ideas and goals for the company, which ultimately aims to improve customer satisfaction and automatically the increase in revenue. To achieve that, a lot of transformation took place like change from old mainframe-based economy to a new era of cloud computing and cyber security. As a result of this, the company’s revenue has increased by 12 % per employee.
So by setting individuals performance goals, ideas can be built. Goals promote planning to achieve them. Plan strategically. Once your plans are ready, you will have an elaborated agenda to work upon. Then the company can delegate its work to its employees systematically. It definitely helps you take your business to the next level. Hence goals can be motivational.
It is also important to review your goals periodically. This will keep you on track to reach your goal.
Key Performance Indicator :
There is one more method which can be used to measure how effectively a company is achieving its business objectives. It is Key Performance Indicator (KPI). A KPI can be a number or a ratio. When aligned systematically with goals, a KPI can demonstrate how well the company is performing. Many companies use KPIs at various levels to evaluate their success at reaching goals. High-level KPIs focus on the overall performance of the company, while low-level KPIs focus on processes in various departments such as sales, marketing or production, etc. It should also meet the SMART principles as well.
So this year make resolution to plan your goals with SMART points and move towards success.