Are your customers valued by your organization? More importantly, do they know you value them and show it by remaining a loyal customer of your product or service?
Competition is fierce, customers are distracted and companies have to work harder to get in front of a prospective customer. This is true. Many organizations spend significant focus fine-tuning lead generation and customer acquisition strategies – a fine use of resources, to be sure. But what happens after the sale? Do customers continue to have a great experience or are they only in focus when a problem occurs? In other words, are you putting the customer at the very core of your enterprise, or only during the sales process?
Many organizations look at the customer decision making process as acquisition/ sales then problem resolution/customer service only to have to win back the customer. However, the customer is not thinking about the process in the same way. For customers, the process is to utilize one set of criteria to evaluate the purchase and a second completely different set of criteria after the sale. The bottom line is customers change their expectations about your product or service after they have had an opportunity to use it, experience it and implement it into their business or personal lives.
Most organizations struggle with retention programs. To create happy, loyal customers requires an understanding of what drives the decision making process in the marketplace and the criteria they use to determine whether to stay a customer or not after the purchase. Many organizations invest significant time and money toward acquiring customers, but only consider them again after the sale if a problem occurs. Furthermore, it is common to see an organization commit large resources to lead generation without an understanding of how customers evaluate the products and services once they’ve made the purchase. Basically, organizations do not set expectations of the experience early in the process, and often are not keeping customers in mind while trying to retain them.
Challenge the Norm: It is easier, more cost effective and considerably more customer centric to set product and service expectations very early in the process, and certainly at the time of the sale. To do so requires understanding what customers want when making the purchase decision as well as understanding how that process changes after the sale.
Customer retention is based on the foundation of value. Do your customers feel they are valued? Do they believe you will keep your commitment? Often customers do not purchase again because once the sale is done, they are left on their own. Organizations that value the customer change their view of every aspect of the company to be from the lens of that customer, putting him at the center of every decision. This is certainly true of the sales and post-sales process.
Good customer retention programs start early in the sales process as it is during this stage customers are most receptive to your messaging. The retention messaging within the sales process includes framing how a customer should evaluate the product or service and what they can expect. This is your best opportunity to reframe any potentially negative experiences before they occur and direct the customer’s attention to the benefits that might be overshadowed. From there, the retention message should be reflected in all forms of communication from billing statements to websites. Remember, retention programs must be written from the customer perspective in order to appropriately set and fulfill expectations.
To learn more about the post-sale customer experience, conduct a Touchpoint Analysis. This provides organizations a way to understand and monitor the customer experience as they interact with your product or service. The insights received from this analysis will provide a better understanding of the customer’s evaluation criteria as well as their selection criteria.
This information will become the basis of a solid customer retention program. With the insights from the Touchpoint Analysis, your organization will be empowered to leverage communications and relationships naturally occurring during the post-sale customer experience, thereby improving loyalty and customer satisfaction at minimal expense. Another benefit of the insights is customers will know that you value them and understand their concerns, which often is reflected by their willingness to purchase again from your company.
Customer centric insights improve your bottom line as well as ensure innovation that customers appreciate. Remember new Coke? Your customers know what they want and are happier if you ask. Gathering customer insights throughout the entire decision making process will empower your organization to appropriately set expectations and deliver with excellence, garnering more faithful, happy customers.