We, at SurveySparrow, send online feedback surveys to our business clients at the end of every year. In the survey, there’s this question-
“What was the most challenging business problem you faced this year?”
To our surprise, over 85% gave “customer retention” as their answer. Yes, they all stated the pandemic disrupted their customer network and retaining them became an enormous problem. Now, 2020 was an unprecedented year for almost every business. Massive changes took place. People started working from homes while still adapting to the changes that had happened so quickly. And in between all that, businesses started losing customers, that too the loyal ones. There were many reasons for such drop-offs, not just one. But the bottom line is, customer retention is a big problem for businesses right now.
Customer Retention Tip: Do Whatever It Takes!
82%. That’s the number of organizations who think that retention is cheaper than acquisition. But then why customer churn was a massive problem for all kinds of businesses in 2020? Because they didn’t adapt to the changes in terms of their customer retention strategies. Most of them were using the same old customer retention program, even though it wasn’t giving any results. This is what we strive to change with this blog. We want to give the best strategies that would help you improve your customer retention in 2021 and get sustained growth along the way. So, let’s not keep you waiting anymore and let’s get started.
What are the Warning Signs That Your Customers are Leaving?
The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%, and that 65% of a company’s business comes from existing customers. Now, what do these facts say? It’s that loyal customers bring sustained growth for a company. You cannot just leave customer retention to its own while focusing only on getting new ones. Why? First, because it’s expensive and second, it takes time.
Well, you can actually see the signs when a customer is about to churn. And before working on improving your customer retention program, knowing these 5 signs about a leaving customer would set you on the right track towards retaining them.
They Stop Communicating- This is one of the clear signs that your customer is planning to leave using your product or service. Now, there can also be other common reasons why they aren’t communicating well. Like, they could be really tired at work, or maybe you’re sending too many follow up and feedback emails to them, or they’re not communicating back because they’re sick. But if the duration of this communication loss is pretty long, it’s a clear warning sign.
Too Much Complaining- If you find that one or some of your customers are calling or reaching out to your representatives regularly with complaints about slight issues, that could be a sign, they’re unhappy with your company and services and are finding reasons for leaving.
They Start the Comparison Game- How often do you hear something like, “Other brands are offering me so much, but you aren’t.” Clearly, your customer is looking at other companies for his requirements, and there’s a big chance this customer would go away.
They Take Longer to Clear Their Bills- If this is the case, they’ve put your invoice on someone else’s table for extra consideration. Normally it’s a big question mark. Something like, “why are we using this product?” or “why are we spending this much on this service?” or “can we get a cheaper and better option?”. Generally, it’s a question about money, not the quality of the product or service. But whatever it is, it’s a warning sign.
They Don’t Show Interest in Future Projects- In the past, your customer must have shown great interest in discussing a long-term vision about their collaboration with you, but now, they always brush this topic aside. If that’s the case, it’s not a sign of a satisfied and happy customer.
Tips to create and improve your Customer Retention Program in 2021
Once you’re aware of the importance of customer retention and the warning signs associated with it, now is the time to work towards improving it. And after the workplace changes that took place in 2020, improving customer retention and having a well-planned customer retention program has become a very important business function in 2021. But, as we’ve mentioned earlier, most businesses are struggling with this because they’re sticking to past strategies.
Yes, most companies believe that what worked in the past for customer retention would eventually work again. Now, we do not doubt their thought-process and optimism about this, but times have changed, and these changes are here to stay.
So, improving customer retention and adopting a well-planned customer retention program is the need of the hour in 2021. Here’s how you can start doing that and make the customers keep coming back for your products and services.
Be a Proactive Leader
Let us talk about a scenario here. A regular customer of a company wants to place a big order with them. But first, he wishes to know the best offers. So, he writes them an email asking for a quick call with their representative. Well, no one from the company replies. He writes again, waits for days, after which he gets a single line mail from them stating there are no offers currently running.
This loyal customer is unhappy with this treatment, so he blasts one last email, stating he’ll not do any business with them again.
What should you take out from this? It’s that, a leader should be proactive enough to never let such an incident happen. See, mistakes and slip-ups happen with and from everyone. But proactive leaders don’t let the situation worsen and are quick to take corrective actions. So, instead of letting the representative write a single line mail to the customer, a proactive leader would have asked the customer representative to apologize for the delay in reply, state the reason for it, and if possible, give the customer a special discount on their next order.
It’s simple, don’t let the situation go completely against you and your organization. Take action as soon as you observe the initial signs. You’ll be surprised to see an increase in your customer retention rate with this one change in your leadership style.
Data is the key
Data is king! We wouldn’t just say if we don’t mean it. And apparently, it’s the data about your past and present customers that would help you design the most efficient customer retention program in 2021. Even your customers want you to work on their data. Yes, about 87% of customers will have various details of their activity tracked in exchange for more personalized rewards, service, and experience.
Making the best use of existing data is a prime strategy that you should adopt to improve the customer retention program. Because with the way technology is swooping in, and with the work from home culture becoming a viable option, the data you collect would drive decisive action more than anything else in 2021 and beyond.
It would help you understand what might work going forward, and also about the customer service and experience mistakes that you have been making in the past. Because once you dig in on the data of your churned customers, you’ll start understanding why they went away. And frankly speaking, knowing this is more important than knowing what works for your customer.
Best in Class Onboarding Process
This is where you can truly make a difference in 2021. Because a great product or service justifies that tag only when the end-user can use it from start to finish with no hassle. Let’s take an example of Apple here. People always associate Apple with a loyal customer who won’t ever go away.
But they also offer products that are easily understood and used by everyone, be it I-phones or MacBooks? So, apart from their world-class customer service and massive brand loyalty, they have great products too!
Having a brilliant onboarding process would set you and your company apart in terms of customer retention. The customers would understand that your teams are striving hard to make their lives easier, and they want them to have the most amazing experience while using the product or service. This improves customer retention massively because your customers couldn’t have asked for a better start than what you gave. And according to Microsoft, 69% of customers would be loyal to your brand because of such best-in-class service. Impressive, isn’t it?
Personalization is Important
Yes, it’s indeed important because your customer retention program would fail if you treat your customers as different accounts. They deserve the right interaction, personalization, and care from the moment they’re on board with you. But even if you’ve impressed them with your onboarding process, you cannot and should not start filling up their inbox with emails.
The primary reason being, customers in 2021 wants to know what’s best for them and not for everyone. He expects an interaction where your team understands his requirements and delivers on them. And till the time you’re not doing that, don’t just follow up because you have to!
Customers today have no problems letting you know their choices and preferences, and collecting this information and data should be your first task. The best and the easiest way to do that is with interactive online surveys. You should include questions that could get you the right data, thus making your customer feedback process as effective as it can get. Now, once you know all about their choices, it’s time to personalize your offerings for them. Let’s say you found out from this survey that a recently onboarded customer likes 2 of your products but haven’t bought them because of the price.
Take a moment here and think, won’t this customer go thrilled if you offer the products he likes in a combo and at a discounted price? This customer won’t think twice before buying it straight-away, and he’ll be coming back for more just superb offers. Now, this is just one of the scenarios, and we’re not saying you always include discounts and combos to sell.
You can decide on the personalization you want to give after considering everything and all the parameters. But make sure to personalize every bit of your customer’s experience. Your customer retention program would be a grand success in no time!
Following up is Crucial
This is the part where you’ll start observing increasing customer loyalty. Yes, following up with them in a personalized way would leave your customers completely satisfied and happy. They would start thinking that you and your brand ‘gets them’ and they won’t be left with any reason to look past your company for their requirements.
Do you know what’s even better? Every satisfied customer will share this positive experience with 11 different people. So, your customer retention program isn’t just keeping customers; it’s bringing new ones also! Now, for all this to work, you need to get your customer service strategy sorted out and start using a sophisticated customer experience solution to streamline the complete customer interaction and follow-up process.
And you shouldn’t just be restricted to email campaigns for such follow-ups. 2021 is the age of social media, and striking up a rapport with your customers over different social platforms should be an integral part of your customer retention program.
This interactive follow-up process on different platforms would also keep you updated on your customer’s changing buying habits and choices. With regular follow-ups and feedback mechanisms, you would know precisely what they need and when. If you do this right and consistently, customer retention in 2021 would literally become a walk in the park for you!
Delight Them With Your Content and Marketing Campaign
Your customers would be pretty happy and satisfied getting their interests noticed by you and your teams. But why restrict that to just social media interactions and personalized emails? Because here’s the point, you need to give your new and existing customers more and more reasons to stay with your brand. That will happen when you write about your values and how taking care of your customers and keeping them happy fulfils that.
The customers are the hero of your story, and highlighting that with well-executed content and marketing campaigns would help improve customer loyalty even further. So, ask your content team to interview regular customers and create blogs around that. Shoot small ads highlighting what your customers are saying about you and your brand. And talk about how hard your teams are working to shape your products and offerings around customer needs and interests.
According to Forbes, 86% of customers say an emotional connection with the customer service representative or team would make them continue doing business with the company. And this number would increase further after how tumultuous 2020 turned out to be for everyone. So, show them you care and do that for all your customer retention program. You’ll not regret it even a bit.
Focus on Employee Experience
“You’re such a lazy guy!”
“Even while working from home, you’re saying that you’re not feeling good. What more should I do for you, eh?”
“I don’t want to hear any more excuses. I want everything done before today evening. Is that understood?”
A lot of employees complain that they have leaders and managers like this. People who only care about outcomes and targets and don’t care if their employees are mentally or physically healthy. No customer retention program or strategy works under such leadership. Because why would an employee who has a leader like this strive towards keeping the customers happy? He himself is not happy and couldn’t care less about your customer’s happiness and satisfaction.
42% of employees reported their stress levels are currently very high because of current events, personal finances, and job responsibility. And in such a scenario, the last thing an employee wants to go through is bad employee experience. So, if your primary goal is to focus on customer retention this year, work towards reimagining employee experience. And going forward, your increasing customer retention rate would prove that this was the right step.
Final Thoughts on This
Your customers, new or old, understand the struggles you and your teams went through because of the pandemic. They understand a lot changed because of that, and adapting to it would take time. Your customers have also been through a lot. They also had to face such unprecedented times with strength and patience. So, they expect nothing but honesty from you.
In 2021 and beyond, they don’t want you to promise what you can’t do. They will be accepting of some of the mistakes if you and your employees are honest about them.
The strategies and ways we’ve mentioned would benefit only after you’re completely honest with your customers. So, if you wish to get loyal customers through your customer retention program, start by telling them how much efforts your teams are putting in to serve them better, and don’t try to be or do what you can’t. Be honest in implement these strategies. That’s how you’ll customer retention program would turn out to be a grand success.