The avalanche of global disruption, debate, media focus and business restructuring or closures is taking a heavy toll on business owners and leaders worldwide. Some, if not all, are naturally gripped by fear, some are applying sharp cost cutting initiatives, while others are going the innovative route and responding more quickly than usual to customer demands and embracing digitalisation at breakneck speed.

Global and local economic predictions are currently something of a work of fiction as the ‘silent’ disruptor, the pandemic, is wreaking havoc and will continue to do so for quite some time to come.

For some sectors it has been an opportunity for significant growth, and for others, like the broader healthcare sector, it has and continues to be beyond overwhelming and profoundly sad.

For those still operating in the commercial arena, it is hugely important to consider what you can do to retain your most valuable customers.

1.  Make satisfied customers even more satisfied.

Wisdom (and the PARETO Principle) tell us that 80% of profits come from 20% of customers.  In a downturn this 80:20 tends to become 95:5. In this scenario it is advisable to redouble your marketing effort with the best and most profitable customers to make sure you don’t lose them, but can at least hold a steady trading activity with them, which may ultimately grow.

To achieve this, offer benefits and incentives that build goodwill. Improve the quality and level of service provided, further analyse and understand your existing customer’s needs and change the delivery of your service to meet these needs. Going the extra mile for your customers during lean times will be remembered, and your best marketing is done by very satisfied customers.

2.  Identify valued customers who are showing signs of disengagement.

In times of growth, customer retention techniques are less likely to be applied and some of the signs of customer disengagement are overlooked. Now is the time to determine why some of your customers are:

  • Spending less on your products/services than before;
  • Not referring business to you;
  • Not paying their invoices on time;
  • Availing of the opportunity to seek newer, cheaper, more efficient and effective product and service providers – forcing you to consider your overall customer value proposition, pricing and delivery mechanisms.

3.  Collaborate with your customers and partners.

The principle that “people don’t buy products or services, they buy solutions to their problems” has never been more important or relevant. If you want to keep your best customers and help them to solve their problems, not only with the products and services you offer, perhaps you need to consider how you can leverage the relationships with your customers, suppliers and with your employees.  Given all parties have a shared interest in success, by making yourself a true strategic partner to their success (and ultimately to your own), a collaborative programme would enable everyone to share or save on staff time, costs and enable you to jointly develop new capabilities and distribution channels.  This is a great way to improve your customer loyalty and to reinforce your reputation as a company that is flexible and customer focused.

4.  Enhance your website and online presence.

While you may have your website active, be sure to highlight the value you bring to your customers.  Publishing content alone won’t get you any traction.  Look at how you can engage in more targeted and effective content marketing, webinars and podcasts if applicable and if possible, consider hosting some online events.

Consider also your social medial platforms, and build your community of subscribers to keep your customers engaged.  Create valuable posts, schedule your social media marketing to be impactful, consistent and communicate clearly and effectively.  Show your customers you are here for them and that you value them and their business.

5.  Review your Internal Retention Processes.

  • Is your Sales Process ‘fit for purpose’ in this new world of work and is it being applied so that the customer likes doing business with you and your company?
  • Is the Sale Transaction being handled efficiently, effectively, smoothly and without unnecessary and time-consuming procedures?
  • Is the Customer being treated with respect and dignity and being dealt with conclusively in a timely, transparent and well-communicated way?
  • Does the Customer know everything they need to know about the products and services they are buying – no surprises?
  • Does the Product or Service live up to, or exceed, the customer’s needs and expectations?
  • Is the Customer Relationship being managed successfully, post-sale?
  • Is your Company doing WHAT is says it will, WHEN it says it will and HOW it says it will?
  • Does your Company and its products and services continue to have a strong image and rating in the marketplace – or an improved one?

Concentrate on what your existing customers need and want, how they want to engage with you and how you can better serve them and keep them.

Connect with me for a quick chat if you would like to know more about various strategies to keep your customers during this most challenging time – charley@charleyswords.com.

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