There is an age-old truth in business that it is easier to keep a client than to find a new one. I’ve often heard business owners and managers ask, “What can I do besides deliver my service or product as expected?” And therein lies the problem.
We live in an age of choice. We can go on the web and find multiple options for what we are looking for. As a consumer base, we have become more selective and demanding in what we are looking for and what we expect. Delivering just what consumers expect will not seal the deal for long-term loyalty; exceeding customer expectations is what keeps people engaged.
In a previous article, “Customer Service Is a Verb”, we discussed ways to differentiate your business that will set you apart because so many companies are focused on just getting new business. What we will discuss now are a few small things that will stand out as hugeto impact retention.
Four ways to improve customer retention:
1. Be available
I cannot tell you how many times I have been frustrated by ‘automated operators’. “Press two for this” or “press one for that” and it takes you forever until you are at the point of just yelling at the phone, “please let me speak to someone.” Recently, when I had to contact my new lawn service company, I spoke to an actual person each time I called. Now, I know many of you will say they are small so it’s not a fair comparison to your business, but in reality, the majority of businesses are able to staff a person to answer phones.
2. Be knowledgeable
Make sure that the person answering your phones has a working knowledge of what you do and, more importantly, who to channel incoming calls to. I have been bounced around multiple times to different people at a company, only to learn they cannot help me. This is a big misstep and gives a poor impression of how that company will take care of me in the future.
3. Be responsible
If something goes wrong, for whatever reason, take the responsibility to make it right. Zappos has made a mark in their industry by not charging customers for return shipments. While other companies consider this a cost, Zappos looks at this as a way to retain customers. My lawn service recently made a mistake when trimming some ground cover on my property. Instead of waiting for me to find it (or maybe just hoping that I didn’t) they went out and bought a new piece to replace it, and let me know what had taken place. That is reason enough for me to keep them.
4. Be appreciative
Many businesses today get so caught up in the next sale that they forget to thank their new customers. I came home recently to find a handwritten envelope with a thank you card inside. The card was from a company I had recently hired letting me know how much they appreciated my business and if I was satisfied, asked that I recommend them to others. Nice touch asking for referral.
It seems so simple. Not one of these items seems hard to do, but I will tell you that by doing these four things, your company will stand out from your competitors.
Glenn Pasch is the current COO of PCG Digital Marketing as well as a writer, national speaker and trainer. For more information, visit glennpasch.com/management-training-workshops.