Posts Tagged ‘customer retention’

Top Ten Tips of Customer Acquisition and Retention (4 of 5)

December 20, 2010

7.  Time Bombs.  The old school thought on growth is that companies need to do things cheaper, faster and better to win business. While a I do not agree with this model for growth, I do agree with the fact that in order for organizations to deliver on the “faster”part they have to build and plant time bombs thoughout the organization. Time is of the essence in today’s economy and a quick response to internal and external issues can make or break a company (ahem – Yahoo! and Delicious for example).  Attention-getting time bombs of some type need to go off whenever you are not exceeding the customer’s expectation of time.  The entire organization needs to see, hear, and feel the obvious warning signs of impending time problems.

How this is setup is totally dependent on your organization and your customer’s perception of time as it relates to their consumer experience.  If you sell a product with a specific delivery terms, ask yourself if you can exceed your customer expectations without producing any negative side effects.  Or perhaps you can adjust your organization’s idea on what late means (it could mean the expectation is that the product arrives one day before delivery is expected).

If you are providing a service, it may mean that you start to track the number of times that an employee has to call to inform a customer that she will be late or call to reschedule an appointment.  Or another way to look at it is if you are working on a project and the team starts to miss small milestones.  Consider how many times do key people find out about a problem after it’s too late to really fix it or at a point where it is twice as expensive to fix it as it would have been earlier?   Worse still, when you find out about an issue or problem for the first time from a customer.

The next part is measuring the organization to the new standards and stating explicitly to everyone when they are not meeting the new expectations of the customer and when you are exceeding them.  Define key metrics, explain the importance of gathering accurate information with your staff, and ensure that everyone in your organization is aware of the minimum set of expectations that a customer has and how to exceed them.

The idea of planting time bombs within your organization so that key people are aware of issues or problems as they arise also highlights the fact that information that is vital to delivering your product or service has to be aggregated in one spot and displayed in such a manner that people can use it to make decisions.  There are a variety of solutions available for this ranging from simple email, project wiki’s, dashboards, the list goes on.  Find something that fits the culture and budget of your company.

8.  Tractable.  Tractable is defined as (adj.) susceptible to suggestion; s personality sensitive to other’s desires [syn: malleable, responsive].  In order to achieve growth as a company you need to be malleable and responsive.  Satisfaction is not a continuum.  People don’t move along in stages from “completely unsatisfied” to “completely satisfied.”   You can grab customers and immediately move them from the bottom of the scale to the top if you can solve that customer’s problem in a way that’s far beyond what they were expecting.

Give everyone in your organization some semblance of power to rectify a situation as it unfolds in front of them.  Think of ways that customers have become dissatisfied in the past and how you would have properly solved the problem.  Next, consider the implied authority that the staff had who were involved in the situation.  What’s the gap between how you as a key decision maker would have solved the situation to your front line staff?  What steps could you take to empower your staff to rectify similar situations in the future?

At the very least, be sure that you never hear these phrases uttered by people in your company:

  • “I’m sorry, but that’s our policy.”
  • “If I do this for you, I’ll have to do it for everybody.”
  • “You’ll have to speak to my manager.  I don’t have the power to do that.”
  • “I don’t know if I’m allowed to do that.”
  • “If it were up to me, you know I would do it.”

Take time to give power and authority to any employees who have contact with customers and ensure that everyone in your organization knows to be tractable with your number one asset.


Top Ten Tips of Customer Acquisition and Retention (2 of 5)

December 6, 2010

3.  Total view.  How many times have you heard “that’s not my job” or “that’s not my department.”  You had better hope that you don’t have someone like that in your organization.   There are plenty of reasons this attitude surfaces.  Maybe your employees don’t personally have the technical knowledge to answer the question.  Maybe there are too many territorial disputes in your organization.  Maybe that particular person is lazy.  You need to fix these problems either through better training, better people or better technology – probably using all three.

To grow your business, you need a total view.  You need to make sure anyone who interacts with customers in any way has a total view or at least knows where to go get the answers from someone who has that viewpoint.  Through training and technology, you can make it happen.

4.  Technology. Technology is making it increasingly easier to gather, store and interpret information about your customers.  It has become popular in recent years to put in customer relationship management (CRM) systems.  There are many prominent CRM systems and free CRM systems in the marketplace and it will take some time to evaluate what can work best for you.  The best suited CRM system that I found was with an independent consultant on Bay Street who uses Google Groups to post new prospect information and updates on contact information and conversation notes.  Everytime he talks to a prospect, he sends an email to the Group.  Any time he needs information on a prospect or client, he searches the Google Group and all of the relevant information is there in one place.

There are many ways that your organization can transition to an online presence through a web portal or using email newsletter services to send out customized newsletters to each of your potential customers and current customers.  You can also post video testimonials on your web site or on social media to show the world how satisfied your customers truly are.

Top Ten Tips Of Customer Acquisition and Retention (1 of 5)

December 6, 2010

The top ten elements for any organization interested in improving customer acquisition and retention.

1.  Training.  Do your new hires know what makes you tick?  Do they know why you exist and what matters to your customers? The training I’m talking about is customer-driven training, not internally driven training. Generally, you want to answer the following questions:

  • Why do people buy from us and not the other guys?
  • When people buy from the other guys, why do they do it?
  • What makes us unique?
  • What do our customers care the most about?
  • What are the primary tasks you need to know, and how do those tasks relate to the customers’ needs?

The key to the training should be focused on creating a “customer-centric” thought process – letting your new hires know how far they can go to solving a customer’s problem and when they need to ask for help.

2.  Touches.  Every time you come in contact with a customer, it’s a “touch” and an opportunity to shine.  Every contact with the customer is important – and can have a direct impact on your customer acquisition and retention.  This includes the initial phone call, credit terms, confirming email, returns – everything that your customer sees and hears from your organization.  Take time to ensure that you have proof read emails, all links in your correspondence are live, that everyone in your organization is aware of the new deal you just sent out to your database.  Remember, finding and keeping customers is a touchy subject.

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