Customer Service

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How Do You Sustain and Grow Your Customer Relationships?

The most important thing in sales and marketing is to attract and retain your most profitable business customers.  In order to accomplish this feat, you must devise and implement a customer strategy that builds, fosters, nurtures, and extends relationships with your customers.  Your company profits only when the earnings from retained customers exceed the costs to acquire and to service customers over time.

There is a strong correlation between long-term business success and long-term customer relationships.  Successful businesses capitalize on every stage of the customer life cycle-from customer selection, to customer acquisition, customer retention, and customer growth.  Once a certain level of trust and comfort has been established, most customers prefer to remain loyal to companies and their products.

Customer selection and acquisition is just the beginning of the customer relationship life cycle.  Ideally, your company should target only high value and low attrition-risk prospects.  The cost to acquire a new customer is much greater than the cost to retain an existing customer.  Depending on the industry, experts indicate that it is five to ten times more costly to acquire a new customer than it is to keep and develop an existing customer.

In the retention stage of the customer’s life cycle, a company retains its customers by delivering on its value proposition.  This ensures that the customer needs to look no further; that is the rationale for providing the highest-quality of service.  When your customer relationship is based on trust, cooperation, and collaboration, the customer is more willing to listen to your new ideas, try your new products/ services, and considers you as a long term, trusted partner.

A savvy business owner/executive understands that it pays to nurture existing customer relationships.  If a good working relationship has been established, then it is easier to up-sell and cross-sell your products/services to this existing customer.  If your customer’s business is growing, there is a good possibility that there will be an increased need for your products/services.

In the growth stage of the customer’s life cycle, increasing the value of each existing customer is the ultimate objective.  Many organizations think in terms of the “lifetime value” of a customer.  Customer growth strategies generally focus on increasing the share of each customer’s expenditures by expanding its company’s range of products/services.

It is crucial, however, not to lose sight of the importance of continually acquiring new customers.  In other words, if your company becomes too dependent on any one or only a few existing customers, then the future growth of your company could be in jeopardy.  So, be cautious that the growth in purchases by, one or a few customers does not represent too large of a proportion of your company’s total sales.  Striking this balance, between servicing existing customers and acquiring new customers, is imperative.

Creating and managing this balance can be a major challenge to management.  However, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) applications offer solutions to this challenge.  CRM is the process of tracking and managing all aspects of a company’s interaction with its customers, including prospecting, sales, and service.

Here are just a few customer touch points that you can use to strengthen your relationships and keep your customers informed and engaged:

  • Email messages, newsletters, and surveys: Provide product/service updates, promote goods and services, and communicate news/events.
  • Feedback: Ask for, capture, and act on your customer’s input.
  • Insight: Research your customers’ markets, strategies, and goals.
  • Customer loyalty: Implement loyalty, affinity, and rewards programs.
  • Relationship building: Talk and listen to customers in order to maintain a dialogue and to build a trust-based relationship.
  • Be accessible: Make it easy for customers to reach you.
  • Customer satisfaction: Implement a customer satisfaction policy that provides a way to resolve/remedy problems and issues.
  • Involvement: Engage customers in product development /enhancement, via beta tests, focus groups, and pilots.
  • Anticipate customer needs: Learn their business, their purchasing patterns, and their requirements for effective proactive solutions.
  • Become an indispensable resource: Look for ways to add value, to be a real partner, and to help your customers achieve results.
  • Help lines: Provide support, service, advice, and information.

In building customer relationships, remember to value the “personal touch.”  Try to get to know your customer “as a person.”  You will be surprised at how much you may have in common.  Establishing personal bonds goes a long way toward building lasting relationships.

Your efforts will be rewarded with repeat business, referrals, and satisfied, loyal customers.

Photo for Business Insights blog-How to Regain a Customer’s Trust After Losing It

How to Regain a Customer’s Trust After Losing It

It feels like a disaster when you lose a customer’s trust. But it’s really an opportunity to turn things around and establish a lifelong relationship.

There are many reasons you could lose a customer’s trust. It could be that you slipped up and made a mistake, or it might be completely out of your control. Maybe they misunderstood your offer or had the wrong expectations. Either way, it’s important that you give the matter your full attention and get it resolved.

Ask Why and Listen

When you find out that a customer is unhappy, always seek to find out why. Reach out to them and see if they’ll talk to you. As they explain their reasons, focus on simply listening. Use active listening to repeat back to them what they’re saying to clarify your understanding.

Acknowledge and Apologize

After you’ve heard the full story, apologize and own up to the mistake if it was your fault. Even if it wasn’t, apologize to the person that their expectations weren’t met. Saying sorry is a way of empathizing with the other person. Just hearing friendly and compassionate words is sometimes enough to make the other person feel satisfied.

Make It Right

See what you can do to make it right for the person. Of course, if it was your mistake, compensate the person accordingly. You might want to throw in a little something extra as well for their trouble.

If it was a misunderstanding, see if there are other ways you can help them, even if this means recommending a competitor. If you have resources or ideas that are useful, provide them.

Offer an Incentive

If the customer still isn’t satisfied and you’re at risk of losing them, offer an incentive to win them back. Offer a free product, a discount, a free membership, exclusive content, or something else of value that might entice them to stay.

Even if your best efforts to keep the customer fail, all is not lost. They may leave you, but they’ll leave you on good terms thinking well of your company. This helps to establish your business as one that cares, and there’s a possibility that the person will come back to you in the future when they need what you have to offer.

Learn More

Do you want to learn more about turning one-time buyers into lifetime brand advocates?

Check out our course, How to Create Loyal Lifetime Customers, which teaches you the A to Z.

 

 

Photo for Business Insights blog-Customer Lifecycle Marketing – How Can It Impact Your Customer Retention

Customer Lifecycle Marketing – How Can It Impact Your Customer Retention?

Do you want to turn one-time buyers into lifelong brand advocates? Then the way to do it is through Customer Lifecycle Marketing. This is an approach that is guaranteed to retain customers for the long-term and build strong relationships with your brand.

What Is Customer Lifecycle Marketing?

Customer Lifecycle Marketing is an approach that meets the needs of the customer throughout their journey with your brand, from the initial awareness stage all the way through multiple purchases. It helps you increase the lifetime value of your customers by creating lasting relationships where you provide what they need over and over again.

The benefits of this approach are easy to see when you look at the cost of acquiring new customers versus the cost of retaining current customers. It costs a great deal less to nurture relationships with your existing buyers than to bring in new leads.

Responding to Customers’ Needs

A customer’s needs change over time. When they first encounter your business, they want to learn about you, what you have to offer, how you can solve their problems, and how you’re different from others offering similar products or services. Once they’ve made a purchase, they need other products to solve different needs, help with making the most of the products they purchased, and so on. It’s all about meeting your customers where they are at each stage and helping them make the right decisions.

The 3 Phases of Customer Lifecycle Marketing

There are 3 phases in this approach where customer needs are very different:

Attract – The person gets to know about your company and understand how your products or services meet their needs. In return, you learn about the customer.

Motivate – This is where you help the person make their buying decision by presenting options and encouraging them to take action.

Delight – Once the first purchase is made, offer support, develop the relationship, delight the person by exceeding expectations, and explore other needs your business can satisfy.

The Importance of Engagement

The Customer Lifecycle Marketing Model is visualized as a wheel where the 3 phases revolve around a “hub” of engagement. This means two things: First, it’s not a process that goes straight through like a sales funnel. Customers may return to a previous phase or pass back and forth between them.

The importance of the hub is that engagement is what builds your relationship with the customer. You continually engage with them, and this is what keeps the process moving and the wheel spinning. It’s also what keeps people involved in your business and motivated to learn more.

Customer Lifecycle Marketing Is the Key to Customer Retention

The Customer Lifecycle Marketing model is the best way to retain customers, and that should be the goal of every business. It’s not enough to simply get people to buy from you once. Your goal should be to nurture long-term relationships where your customers buy from you repeatedly and go on to tell others about the great value you offer.

Learn More

Check out our new course – How to Create Loyal Lifetime Customers.
It teaches you everything you need to know to retain customers over the lifetime of their relationship with you, so that you can earn more with less effort.
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