By Laura Petrolino
When you look at many customer acquisition and retention strategies, they are very similar to the process of wooing and keeping that special someone in your life.
- First comes courtship: They find you and you seduce them with your charm (brand voice, client service), products, and services.
- Then comes love: They become a customer. They hopefully gush about you to their friends and family.
- Then comes marriage: They become repeat customers and exclusive to only you. No more searching around for the next better thing—or at least you hope.
And next comes…….well, that depends on the health of the relationship.
Hopefully the “bond of (customer) marriage” only becomes stronger with time. You and your customer grow old together, changing with one another (instead of away from each other), and complimenting each other’s needs. And the result is a lifetime of happy customers and profitable businesses.
Sadly, the fairytale customer romance story often doesn’t have such a nice ending. And the divorce rate is unfortunately high—in fact a 2015 Accenture study found that only 28 percent of customers are loyal to their brands and providers.
It’s stats like that from which the Facebook relationship status “it’s complicated,” was born.
Why Your Customer is Unfaithful
I am, in fact, one of those adulterous customers.
For most things, I make buying decisions based on convenience, price, or just randomness. I love variety, so often I’ll just choose something different (even go out of my way to choose something different) for the mere sake of difference.
Verint found the top three reasons consumers switch brands were:
- Cheaper pricing (31 percent of us are gold diggers);
- Poor customer service or rude staff (18 percent of us just want to be treated well); or
- Too many mistakes (16 percent of us are tired of you not putting the toilet seat down or forgetting our birthdays).
Do your customer retention strategies answer all three?
Customer Retention Strategies for Lovebirds
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, there is no better time to evaluate your customer retention strategies and make sure they keep the romance alive in your customer relationships.
Just as with romantic relationships, customers want to feel special, no matter how long you’ve been together. And, with increasing competition for their love (56 percent of consumers said the number of brands they consider for a product has increased significantly and 46 percent of U.S. consumers claim they’re more likely to switch providers than they were 10 years ago), brands can’t just sit back to do the bare minimum relationship maintenance to keep the flame of love alive.
Customer retention strategies must now be proactive and fully engage customers using the PESO model, across all four media.
- Whisper sweet nothings. We often do a great job making customers feel special and needed during the acquisition and “honeymoon” stage of the relationship, but forget about them once the initial excitement is over. Communication might get sloppy, follow-up slower than usual. Remember you might have won the battle, but you’ve never won the war, and every time you take a customer for granted some other charming company get’s an opportunity to sweep in and cause a break-up. Be creative in how you make customers feel special. Profile one each week on your blog or through your social media channels. Send them thank you notes. Check-in with them to make sure everything is going well and they are happy. Don’t wait to send them “flowers” when they are angry, instead send them randomly…..just because.
- Leverage intimacy and trust. You have one very key advantage when you are in a longer-term relationship with your customer—intimacy. Unlike the customer acquisition process—when you are still learning about them—you know them now. You know the way they take their coffee or how they like their eggs (figuratively speaking here, of course—making your customer breakfast in bed is maybe crossing the intimacy line a bit much). Use that knowledge to keep them happy. Likewise, your customer knows you—and if you’ve done your job correctly, they should trust you. Consistently reinforce that trust by your actions and customer retention strategies and they will never leave.
- Be who you say you are. Have you ever dated someone and then, as soon as you are in some form of committed relationship, they suddenly change. You find the way they “said” they were, or how they presented themselves in the wooing stage was absolutely not an accurate representation of who they actually were. Don’t do that to your customers. That 2015 Accenture study showed 84 percent of customers are frustrated by companies that promise one thing but deliver another—which means there are a lot of you out there who need to:
- Realign your messaging to accurately address who you are;
- Clearly set customer expectations as to what your product or service delivers; and/or
- Make sure sales teams and operations are aligned, so what sales promises, operations can (and will) deliver.
Customer Retention Strategies and Your Bottom Line
Financially it doesn’t make sense to invest in customer acquisition, but ignore customer retention strategies. The potential revenue at risk due to a customer switching brands and/or providers is $1.6 trillion (a 29 percent increase from 2010). And customers with a strong connection to a brand (or brand ambassadors) deliver a 23 percent premium over the average customer in share of profitability and revenue.
Make sure your customer feels your love—this Valentine’s Day, and everyday—with customer retention strategies that matter.
No pre-Valentine’s Day post would be complete without a reminder of the post I wrote last year around Valentine’s Day with tips to help communications pros find that special someone (including how to use keywords to help them find you). So, if you are still looking for a Valentine of your own this year, please refer to that post for some matchmaking tips. No need to thank me, just invite me to the wedding when these tactics generate success.
May cupid look kindly over you (and your customer) this year.