Where would we be without our customers? Well, the obvious answer. Out of business. Why is it then so many business take their customers for granted? Is it that their product or service is just so great that their customers can’t live without it? Is it a lack of other options?
Not likely. Today more than ever, customers have choices. A lot of them. Many of which are as good or even better than what you offer. So, how do we ensure we are not only maintaining, but growing our customer base of not only happy, but loyal customers?
In a perfect world we would not lose a single customer. For many reasons this is far from realistic. Even the best companies see churn in an “acceptable” range of 5-10%. Given the high price of customer acquisition it pays big time to focus on keeping the customers you have while you reach out to the marketplace to find new customers. I am a big believer that you can never sell your way past a churn problem. It’s best to do absolutely everything you can to ensure each and every customer becomes a raving fan.
Some key areas which have helped us over the years.
Focus on the overall customer experience. Whether you are selling a product or a service, or both. You have to make sure the customer receives value with each and every interaction. Don’t expect your solution to do it all. Provide the support and or technology necessary to ensure your customer has a seamless experience as they achieve their goals.
Communication. Listen, listen, and listen some more. Provide honest feedback, and detailed next steps. You might be working to solve a problem, or striving to improve an already solid working relationship. Either way, more open honest communication with the goal of adding value never fails to impress.
Set proper expectations. Nothing can send a relationship off track faster than misaligned expectations. With each and every interaction, be sure to set realistic and appropriate expectations. Revisit and confirm regularly and have a written procedure that ensures all parties on both sides are on the same page.
Measure. Use surveys, Net Promoter Score, Zendesk as well as direct conversation to track adoption and continued usage with an ultimate goal of driving tremendous value.
Finally, remember the customer actually is always right. Bill Gates once said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning”.