Although figures vary, it’s widely agreed that it costs businesses more to get new customers than to keep their existing ones. But, organizations often neglect to nurture their account base in lieu of pursuing new opportunities.
Improving customer retention needs to be a top priority, and it doesn’t have to be difficult – but it does take focus and commitment. Below are four simple steps that you and your team can easily implement to make your customers happier, keep them around longer – and maybe even generate new business.
Deliver a great customer experience for prospects and existing customers. Sales expert and Zero-Time Selling author Andy Paul says that salespeople must bring value to prospects in every interaction. This also extends to your existing customer base! When your team keeps customer value in the forefront, you cultivate stronger customer relationships. If you’re engaging with customers, stop and think about what’s in it for them before you reach out – no matter what it’s about! This can take more time but what you can gain from it is invaluable.
Be sure that you have processes to facilitate ongoing engagement with customers. What can you do to stay top of mind with existing customers? Do you have ways to inform them about product upgrades, successful and interesting customer implementations? Or to share relevant news about their industry?
Invite customers to subscribe to your blog, or send a monthly or quarterly newsletter. Retailers often use loyalty programs. Your sales team might consider sending small customer appreciation gifts – you don’t need to wait until the holidays.
Additionally, leverage new tools like automated sales email scheduling for customers as well as prospects. With automation, you can build a series of email templates to streamline communications with customers. Your first email might give them a sneak peek about an upcoming capability, the second the actual news, and a third email might offer a demo of the new functionality.
We always talk about the importance of listening in sales. This is especially important for your existing customers. Give them the opportunity to share their experiences – positive and negative – and discuss what else they’d like from your team, customer support, or your solution. If you don’t already have one, put in a timely and effective process for customer feedback. Listen to customer pain points to see if you can help address any of them in a different way than what they’re currently doing.
Engagement analytics can give you visibility into customer interests and renewed interest levels. In the same way that these tools are being used to show prospect engagement, they can also be used to show customer engagement. Maybe you had a customer who put a particular proposal on the back burner several months back. Using real-time engagement analytics, you see that your customer has re-opened that proposal – and forwarded the document internally to his manager. This gives you valuable insight regarding renewed interest, so you can follow-up on the opportunity.
Research across the board has shown that higher customer retention can contribute significantly to higher company revenue. Make sure your team understands and adheres to the above best practices – and give them the processes and tools to effectively monitor, stay in touch with, and quickly respond to your existing customer base.
Micheline Nijmeh is the CMO for LiveHive, Inc., whose sales acceleration platform empowers sales leaders with deep buyer-based engagement analytic insights into the effectiveness of their team’s sales efforts. A seasoned Silicon Valley executive, Nijmeh has served as Senior Director, Integrated Global Campaigns at Salesforce.com, where she led the market launch of Salesforce’s Chatter and Force platform.