The reputation of a thousand years may be determined by the conduct of one hour”
Even customer we know ‘like the back of our hand’ will change over time. Too often assumptions are made about how long-time customers will respond to us. Realize that anything living needs constant nourishment, regardless of how old it may be. Many times companies stop nurturing customer relationships after they have matured.
As time goes by, the same level of service becomes less effective. The lure of competitors will encourage customer to reevaluate their loyalty to existing vendors or service providers. A question that needs to be asked is, “What is the incentive for customers to stay for three, five or ten years?”
National studies and data can tell us about customer attitudes, wants and needs. However, these can never replace a personalized approach to keeping customer for the long run. By increasing quality focus on customers, your companies’ employees will increase revenue and positive brand awareness. Your companies’ staff probably has worked hard to gain the customers that you have today. Now companies need to make sure they use every quality ‘tool’ and technique possible to build a fence around your customers to keep our competitors out.
What are the top ways to stay top of mind with your client base? Here is my twenty years of marketing experience:
Build out a customer “touch” content/program matrix.
This matrix should include the customer by segment, the content that fits their segment, and if there is any call to action. When developing the matrix, don’t forget a “win-back’ segment. Those are customers who have not returned or cancelled. There should be a marketing program developed to win-back these customers, generally through a better feature-rich solution or by a lower price for a longer time period. Channels in this touch program should include:
VIP Customer Events
Many companies have deleted these type programs from their budget, but if your company can afford a nice way to say thank you to your top tier customers, I would plan a VIP event.
Customer Advisory Panel
Invite a handful of top customers nationwide to participate in a special advisory committee once or twice a year for a day, and let them see something to which the general public does not have access. This will also allow our executive team to listen to our customer’s valuable feedback.
A quality approach to customers who have experienced problems within your organization is to check on these customers long after the problem has been resolved. Many companies quickly process customer concerns. However, long-term follow-up is just as important. A system to have customer service follow-up with the customer one month after the problem was resolved and do three things:
- Thank them for their business;
- Ask them if everything is still working, as they want it to; and
- Let them know that no issue is too small to be addressed.
Create a blog that is strictly for customers so they can hear from multiple people in your organization. Articles should come from the CEO, the product manager, customer service, billing, and sales. This way the customer feels “loved” by all members of the organization. Frequency is important as new articles should be written and disseminated weekly.
How often do you meet with your customers’ in-person? Depending on the revenue or potential revenue of the customer base based on segment or level, decision should be made at how often in-person meetings should be scheduled. In an age of Webinars, Skype, etc., in-person meetings show that you truly value your customer.
Referrals are the best lead source. Continue to ask for referrals and follow-up with a hand written thank you card. A nice branded, embossed, thank you note will be received much better then a text or a quick email.
The goal is to mitigate attrition. Planning for customer engagement is very important, how will you engage?