Return on Behavior Magazine
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Customer Experience

April 26th, 2010

5 Steps to Keeping Your Customers

Financial turmoil, economic crisis, credit crunch – haven’t we heard enough? The CEO of TeleFaction looks at ways you can find ways of keeping your customers.

It is evident, however,that in these times customers are more cautious when they buy, more selective when they choose. This means that a lot of companies have lost revenue this past period.

This in turn means that a lot of companies are hunting new customers, and in the process forget to retain and maintain their existing sources of revenue. Knowing how much more expensive it is to get new customers; this is not always the best strategy. So how do you get started?

A research made by American Society of Quality showed that in 68% of the cases the reasons for a customer to leave was plain indifference as depicted below:

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

A company’s ability to attract and retain new customers, is not only related to its product or services, but strongly related to the way it services its existing customers and the reputation it creates within and across the market.

I have put down following 5 steps to get you started working with retaining your customer.

1. Examine What Your Customers Think, What They Want, What Their Needs Are

Make a research via surveys that tells you how they feel about your products or services and where to improve. Consult even former customers as to why they left. Gather information.

2. Build A Process For Continuous Feedback

It is imperative to continuously listen to the voice of the customer. Ask to the clients’ needs and experiences, instead of waiting for a critical situation in the relationship. It is the best way to be proactive and in charge of the customer relationship.

Make sure that customers have effective communication channels to choose from, that are easily accessible, and of course equally important – that customers are aware that they can always give feedback through them.

The more customers recognize that their comments, criticisms and suggestions are welcome, the greater the probability that they will use the channels.

3. Analyze Feedback And Receive Valuable Insights

As data continuously flows in the next step is to analyze it and identify important actions. Look for how much is about complaints, suggestions, comments, concerns, etc. Get insights on which channels customers mainly used for feedback. See the real causes as to why the customers are loyal and committed, and the depths of their loyalty.

Learn which patterns or trends there is in the customer feedback over time, and whether the accumulated knowledge offers opportunities for new revenue and growth, or issues to resolve.

4. React On The Feedback

This is such a crucial step. A vast majority of companies are collecting a lot of data, but a study in the US show that less than 45% are acting on the data. Remember, the data only becomes valuable if you act upon it.

Follow these steps and you will experience some significant results:

a. React fast on complaints or dissatisfaction. Studies show that a customer that got their complaint handled and resolved are more satisfied than customers that never have had an issue.

b. Monitor how the changes you make from the customer feedback affect the organization. Constantly share the feedback/results with your employees to keep them motivated as well.

c. Make sure that you also communicate back to the customers, that you have reacted on their feedback and what has been done to improve. This motivates the customers to keep coming with their feedback, and is an important step in building a feedback culture.

5 Do It Continuously

Customer wishes, needs and demands change over time. It is important to constantly listen to and act upon customer feedback to retain customers and strengthen their loyalty.

By listening to your customers all the time you will even find that the organization can adapt existing products/services or even develop new ones that match customer needs.

The task of asking, listening, analyzing and improving customer relationships is a never-ending story. It’s a process that never stops.

But Where To Start?
Start with sending an email to your customers where they can find a questionnaire that ask them what they want, what the need and what they think.

The next step is showing the customer that you do not just listen passively, but also actively are acting on what you have just learned from them. You then adapt your messages and services based on the gathered information – correct an error, clarify a dissatisfaction or meet the customer’s desire to get special offers or news on your products or services. If you are not able to abide to all the wishes from your customers, tell them why. You will find that the customer appreciate honest feedback.

You will find that the vast majority of customers will be positively surprised that they get a response that is based on their unique, individual situation. The customers are not accustomed to that, which in turn will get them exited about your company. This engagement will give you even more feedback from your customers and a relationship has been build.

And the best thing about this?! Your customers are likely to tell others about it.

About the Author

Fredrik Abildtrup

Fredrik Abildtrup is the CEO of TeleFaction. He is a seasoned customer experience and Return on Behavior specialist. Currently he is responsible for the growth and internationalization of TeleFaction. Moreover he assists TeleFaction clients in improving customer loyalty, reducing churn and increase cross-sales across customer service contact points. TeleFaction primarily caters to European businesses in the telecom, financial services, energy, travel and transport industries.

He has many years of  business experience, primarily in sales and management. Most recently as the Division Exeuctive with T-Systems Denmark, a sister company to Deutsche Telekom, where he was responsible for more than 100 employees.

Fredrik Abildtrup graduated from the Copenhagen Business School with a degree in International Marketing and Management. Moreover he has a master's degree in International Business obtained via the CEMS-programme at the Universität zu St. Gallen in Switzerland.




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