How to Retain Customers and Beat the Competition: 5 Rules

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Do you know what your customers really want? It is important that you and your team have a deep understanding of their ‘wants’ because this will guide how you service them. And, at the same, time will dictate your longevity as an organization.

“Mass advertising can help build brands, but authenticity is what makes them last. If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.” – Howard Schultz, Starbucks.

These values are exemplified from the top down and should permeate an organization.  It is first and foremost a question of attitude. For example, to achieve and maintain quality, we must first want to do so, then know how to, followed by doing so. And, of course, we must change our perception of the client.

To this end, many organizations have already replaced the terms “client” and “customer” with “guest.” A guest is one who deserves respect, great service, and an understanding that the guest is the boss. It is this way of thinking that turns leads into prospects, and prospects into customers, and ultimately clients into guests. Make them want to do business with you, and to want to continue to do business with you.  Encourage them, through a memorable customer experience, to refer new prospects to you.

The golden rule: treat guests as you want to be treated. Today, the platinum rule: we must treat them as they wish to be treated, and then exceed that!

The Danger in Focusing Too Much on New Customers

Have you ever wondered why a certain service provider is continually offering discounts to new customers, while loyal customers get fewer perks? This is bad business, especially since the ultimate goal of the organization should be to build customer loyalty.

The truth is that customers are inherently unfaithful, and so when organizations focus more on acquisition and retention they will be looking the other way they make it easy for fickle customers to defect. Why are you inclined to invest thousands of dollars on advertising to lure new consumers, but become stingy when you should reward your existing customers?

Go Beyond Quality to Retain Customers

So what should organizations implement in order to retain customers?

The quality of the products or services you offer – in addition to price — are important, but these things are not always enough to encourage guests to be faithful and loyal to your organization. According to a study by Massachusetts’ Forum Corporation, customers will switch providers for the following reasons:

  • 15% switch to get a better product
  • 15% switch to get a lower price
  • 69% because they want a better (or different) customer experience or atmosphere

So what can you do to ensure your customer experience is top-notch? Start with integrating these 5 rules into your business processes.

RULE 1: FOCUS ON THE NEEDS OF YOUR GUESTS

To target the specific guests in your industry, you must first take the time to analyze and understand the needs and shopping behaviours of both your target and your current consumers. However, remember that the criteria for consumer purchasing are not set in stone; they change over time. As an organization, it is wise to continually adapt, reinvent and transform your approach to client service in order to maintain growth.

RULE 2: TWEAK YOUR CORE SERVICES

Your core services (or foundational products and services) are your raison d’ être. In other words, they are what your guests expect. It’s essential to continually tweak these in order to stay competitive and relevant, and continuously improve your transactional processes.

RULE 3: ENHANCE YOUR SERVICE OFFERING

You should supplement your core services with other products or services that add value. Because even if your core services are of the highest quality, your organization will not grow if that is all you offer. Remember to engage your consumers in the process of expanding your business by asking them what else they need. Be courteous, open and willing, and listen. Be authentic, polite, and empathetic, and yet maintain a good deal of firmness and confidence in your worth.

When you offer a diverse portfolio of complementary services, you will provide an unforgettable experience for you and your guests and solidify your marketshare. Bonus: another step taken towards customer loyalty.

RULE 4: CONSTANTLY EXCEED THE EXPECTATIONS OF YOUR GUESTS

You’ve probably heard of the ‘wow’ effect in customer service? Maybe you are familiar with the expression “Under promise and over deliver” or “One step closer”! Are these slogans meaningless? Not at all!

You must provide your guests with an experience of unparalleled quality, from the first contact until the end of the transaction. This attention to experience must be a reflex in all members of the organization, and without exception. Whether with internal or external customers, it is important to recognize, reward and celebrate the successes. Developing this kind of culture of excellence, that’s the wow effect.

Take for example the case of Apple, which by multiple points of customer service (the App Store is a good example), constantly generates wow effects. Every company wants to be the Apple of its sector, right?

RULE 5: REBOOT YOUR CUSTOMER SATISFACTION

Do you consistently poll your clientele on their satisfaction? It’s essential to verify and validate their opinion of the quality of service offered, or risk losing them as customers all the while you are clueless as to why they left or never bought from you again. This feedback approach will generate confidence, which contributes to customer loyalty and improved sales.

Remember that the guest needs to “mature;” in other words, to digest the experience. If you sell online, don’t ask the customer to give an opinion before they have had adequate chance to use it. Timing is crucial.

In conclusion, new customer acquisition does not, by itself, ensure the financial health of an organization. With a good retention strategy, operating in a way that complements acquisition, you will stand out and increase your marketshare.

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