Article: Your plan for Customer Retention will make your business bloom

May 5, 2011

You have worked hard on getting your new customers. You have a great CRM Software and all customers are entered with correct information in the system. But what happens now? How are you going to make sure that you have satisfied customers, who are loyal to you and are informing you if anything is wrong before deciding to run off to another vendor?

A lot of companies are struggling to get new customers. Especially in harder times a lot of energy is spent on working towards receiving new leads and trying to convince them that you are the best supplier of products or services for their needs. Your CRM Software is in place and you put in all information that you need to be able to have correct information about your customers in one place.

But, since a lot of sales people are mostly rewarded on getting new customers, who takes care of the ones you already worked so hard to get?
To begin with, it is important to say the obvious. It takes much less time and is a lot cheaper to keep your customers than to find new and convince them of your excellence.

To be able to keep customers you need to start with creating a plan on plain paper.
There are a few questions you need to ask yourself to be able to understand how to take care of the customers.

1. Do some customers need different attention than others?

You first identify different categories of customers. This should be based on how you need to treat them differently to be able to keep them happy.
One way to do this is by size. Perhaps you want to meet with a customer, who is paying you a substantial amount of money, every quarter. Or you feel that customers who are really small are not in need of mail contact from you more than once a year.
Another way is by network. Perhaps you have one customer that is very small and contribute just a little to your financial stability. But, they have a great network of people they are meeting with every week. If you make this small customer happy he will most likely tell his connections and bring you more customers.
Try to differentiate the customer types the best way you can. You will want to consider below points while planning your categorization.

2. What type of communication do you need to do and how often?

For each of the customer categories you need to plan your communication. The best here is to start from the bottom and go up.
On the bottom we have all communication that should be done to all customers, regarding what category they belong to. Perhaps this means that you have an annual survey, send an email to check that everything is alright or maybe send a small summer gift to show that you care.
The more important the customers are to you and your business, you would probably want to categorize them high up and give them a bit more attention with more frequent communication.
The important thing, though, is to keep the structure and do the same sort of retention to these customers as to the smaller customers. This could, however, mean that you want to give a larger gift to a larger customer than a smaller customer, but the overall activity is still the same.

3. What plan do you have to get their views of your products or services?

It is important that you have a plan on getting your customers views on your products and services. But, it is also important to be honest about what you are going to do with that information. Are you really changing your business and the things that your customers feel important and are not getting in a good way?
Surveys are good but should be thought through before created. In every question in a survey you always have to think – “If we get a low score on this question, are there things we are willing to do to make it better?” If not, you should not bother to have the question. It is important to show the customers that their opinions matter.

4. Involve your customers even further

One of the most powerful thing, but also most time consuming, is to involve your customers in creating the future of your business. Often this result in them feeling that they built the product and the services you are supplying. It is very hard to leave something that you helped building up yourself, right?
To involve customers can be done in different ways and is very different to different businesses. This could mean everything from creating test customers for evaluating products to creating expert teams who are meeting frequently to give their views of how reality is changing in their business and therefore for you to act upon.

It is important to document all actions in your CRM Software. This could be small things as “Tried to call but did not reach them” to larger activities. Also, information such as if they answered a survey you sent out or if they attended a seminar you organized is of great value for you to get to know your customer.

It is vital to see that your customers are giving you an opportunity to expand your business. Some customers might be very demanding and also even harmful for your business. You shouldn’t be afraid of letting these customers go. They take your valuable time that you could spend on making the good customers happy.

The information in this article might seem very obvious, but still most businesses are struggling in following these points. Most businesses agree that it would be good to do but they lack time to do it.
By starting to prioritize your current customers they will bring great benefit to the future of your business. Take advantage of that opportunity!