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Top 5 tips to prevent customer churn from keeping you up at night

How do you keep people excited about your product or service? These top customer retention tips can help decrease your customer churn over time and earn you more loyal customers.

1. Focus on making customers lives easier

You might be surprised to learn that simply satisfying your customers isn’t enough. In a survey of more than 75,000 consumers, the number one most important factor for a customer’s loyalty is reducing their effort i.e. the work they must do to get their problem solved.

It may seem counterintuitive, but one study from the Customer Contact Council (Harvard Business Review) uncovered two important insights into the customer retention process. 1) That traditional means of delighting customers doesn’t improve loyalty nearly as much as making their issues easier to solve does. 2) That basing your strategy around a problem-solving approach can improve your customer service and, ultimately, reduce customer churn.

So, although we’ve often been taught to keep “wow-ing” the customers, this research suggests that the focus should actually be on reducing the effort that your customers need to put in. To put it simply, make life easier for your customers, and it will be a reason for them to stick around.

A way to make it easier for them (and you) is to have self-serve support option. 91% of customers would use an online knowledge base if it were available and tailored to their needs (Coleman Parks). If you develop a great knowledge base, it can help you cut down on support tickets, provide faster customer service and make your customers happier in the long run.

2. Bring back the “lost sheep”

Why dedicate huge amounts of resource to generating new customers when 25-60% of your dormant customers are receptive to you taking up business with them again (MarketingWizdom)? All they need is the right offer at the right time. This is one of the easiest, quickest ways to increase your revenues, as your old customers already know you and your product, so the time to complete the sale is shorter.

Giving them a call or sending a friendly email is often all it takes them of your existence. It’s also a good way to find out why they’re no longer buying, overcoming their objections and demonstrating that you still value them, and will usually result in more sales. This also has the potential to lead to your most loyal customers.

3. Deliver more than you promised

Always deliver more than you promised, which means going above and beyond the call of duty and giving your customers things they didn’t expect. For example, you could offer a free bonus (like a product, discount or value-add) as a surprise, or anticipate a new customer need and address it proactively.

Exceeding expectations can be as easy as a follow-up call after a bad experience resolution or as complex as providing an entire suite of educational resources for one of your products (as an example, see HubSpot’s marketing academy). Depending on your industry and your business size, your methodology will differ, but here is a good rule of thumb: what simple, additional action could you take to let your customers know that you care about their loyalty beyond the end of the transaction?

Just as important as meeting and exceeding expectations, however, is setting them in the first place. This can often be a point of friction between your sales team and the rest of your staff, as it is easy for salespeople to accidentally over-promise on what your business is capable of. In general, it is better to under-promise and over-deliver than vice versa; communicate this to your team to ensure that you aren’t creating pie-in-the-sky dreams for your customers and clients.

4. Get personal

Even though many of your client partnerships will be based on a B2B partnership, at The centre of your relationships with customers will always be the engagement of one person with another. Accordingly, it’s in your best interest to add personal touches to your interactions: Hand-written notes, small relevant gifts and personal exchanges are all valuable additions.

Don’t take it from just us. According to MyBuy’s 2015 Personalization Consumer Survey, consumers are more loyal and purchase more from brands who:

  • 53% – Suggest products based on browsing or buying behavior
  • 49% – Personalize online ads that promote offers and products from website activity
  • 48% – Send personalized emails based on past browsing and buying behavior
  • 48% – Personalize the shopping experience across all channels
  • 33% – Show personalized ads in social media feeds

Personalization allows you to increase customer retention through more relevant and tailored experiences with the brand. It requires you to collect data about your customers that you can later use to make recommendations and tailor promotions to each customers individual needs.

Give your customers what they wish for by personalizing rewards, which demonstrates that you are truly invested in their customer experience. How do you know what that is? Send a simple email survey, maybe a poll, asking consumers what types of incentives excite them. Or, conduct social media listening to identify useful prizes that can make your customers’ lives better.

5. Be there when things go wrong

As much as we’d all like to put our heads in the sand when things go wrong – don’t. As many of 82% of customers have left a company because of a bad customer service experience (RightNow, Customer Experience Impact Report 2010).

Just like great support is a magnet for high-value customers, bad support will repel them fast. No client relationship is perfect; things are going to go wrong. Regardless of how or why they arose, your responsibility is to tell your clients what’s going on, and be proactive in trying to address the situation. Otherwise, they will have a good reason to leave.

When you screw up, don’t forget to apologize and make up for it! 37% of customers are satisfied with service recovery when they are offered something of monetary value (e.g. a refund or credit). An often overlooked and even more important part is simply saying “I’m sorry”. When the business adds an apology on top of the compensation, satisfaction doubles to 74% (Carey School of Business).

This can get even worse when customers voice their opinions on social media. Failure to respond to customer complaints and questions on social media can lead to 15% increase in churn (Gartner). When your customers turn to social media, there’s a lot at stake. Make sure you’re listening.

Finally …

Remember that successful companies don’t stay in one position for too long. They add new updates, evolve with the times and are always searching for ways to do more for their customers. Simply changing your processes and offers from time to time is a demonstration of value, and will keep your customers around longer.

Newly acquired customers are the food of a growing company; but your customer retention rate is like water. You can live a little while without new business, but you’ll quickly die without water.

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