The average business loses around 20 percent of its customers annually for the simple reason they fail to attend to customer relationships (marketingwizdom.com).
I’ve been an Account Manager and Director for the majority of my working life. Throughout that time, two issues have been at the forefront of my thinking. One, ‘how do we make the sale?’ and two, ‘how do we retain our customers?’
The market (that’s your market, our market, any market) is changing. Customers are now more sophisticated – they have more information available to them from various sources than ever before. Consequently, there is greater competition for your market share than ever. So, how do we retain our customers?
My first piece of advice is to put the customer front and centre of your thinking; yes, you want to make the sale, but think win-win’, ‘what’s in it for the customer?’. Listen to your customer. Seek to truly understand their needs, and not just see them as a buyer of your products/ services. Take an interest in the customer, both in the industry sector and in them personally.
Consistently seek to add value to your relationship with your customer, for example keep an eye out for trends or information relating to their market sector and share such information with the customer. It’s human nature to feel important, and supported and by offering such support and insight, we’re demonstrating that we see the customer not just as a transactional buyer, but as a partner, and this either consciously or sub-consciously bonds the parties together.
In a similar vein, it’s always important to remain in contact with your customer. If we make the sale, and have little or no further contact until the contract is due for renewal, that deal is purely transactional, there is no added value and consequently no brand loyalty develops. We have to be consultative and over the term of the relationship seek to become an essential part of the customer’s business. We have to remain visible, be that physically via face to face meetings, or virtually, by other forms of contact – if we don’t you can bet that our competitors will be! We have numerous examples of clients becoming representatives/ advocates of our brand not just because of the programs we offer, but because of the relationships we have developed, so use the opportunity to nurture relationships, building trust and credibility.
Many people point to CRM to keep in contact. This is all very well, but keep in contact with what? If we inundate our customers with no or low value collateral, we risk alienating them. Use the CRM to generate outputs by all means, but be careful; we have to add value at every step in the relationship.
Be memorable – for the right reasons! Once the sale is made, excel in delivering account management / customer service. Don’t just meet the customer’s expectations, exceed them! Lots of people talk about going the extra mile, but how many can honestly say they did it, and did it consistently? It’s these things the customer remembers, and these things that differentiates you from the gathering competition.
Of course, all these tips are redundant, and the customer will want out at the earliest opportunity, if we’ve not sold with integrity. So, at the outset of our customer journey, we have to ask ourselves ‘is the product / service fit for purpose?’ Of course, a customer’s needs change over time, so we need to check in with our customer throughout the relationship – ‘is the product / service continuing to be fit for purpose?’ Customers will be attracted to you and more likely to be loyal to you if you’re able to empathize, put yourself in their position, to find and continue to deliver the right fit for them.
I hope these few tips help you retain your market share in whatever industry you are operating. If you’d like to discuss any aspect of this post, or have issues relating to any aspect of sales and service support, please feel free to reach out to me via LinkedIn.
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