How would you rate your ability to take care of existing clients? Are you hard-pressed to develop new business at the same time? Are you torn between the two activities?
Therefore you tend to:
- Compartmentalize your efforts, rather than seeing them as complementary.
- Change business gears when working with clients, rather than getting a sense of horizontal workflow.
- Worse than that, leave customer retention efforts up to other people in your organization.
Somewhere along the way, you lose focus of the customers you serve.
The duration and quality of client side experience of customer retention efforts is firmly in your hands. First of all, start with a solid strategy of what you would like to achieve on behalf of your customers.
Liberate yourself from “What’s in it for me?” syndrome.
Sure, your initial reaction is to think of yourself first. A stable and retained client base is guaranteed income for sales people. OK, the compensation rate for customer retention / renewal is hardly competitive in comparison to commissions paid for new business.
Consider that your own, your team’s, your region’s and your total customer retention efforts impact your organization’s revenue stream.
Customer retention strategy and execution are important to growing, expanding and sustaining your business. However, why do your customer retention efforts continue to be self-serving?
Are clients disappointed in your customer retention efforts because you do not remain continuously customer-focused?
The majority of professionals pay the most attention to customers when they are trying to win a new sale, a program or contract is up for renewal, or equipment is at the end of its lifecycle.
Now chew on this: Customer retention efforts may be most powerful during the time in between achieving these tactical business milestones. It is like watching a championship soccer or basketball team play. The great players are thoroughly engaged with the entirety of what is happening on the field, even when not playing the ball.
Customer retention is dynamic, not static. Customer retention is strategic. Even if your organization perceives customer retention efforts as tactical.
Develop a solid customer retention strategy. Leverage communication and collaboration with current customers.
Customers have a lot to tell you about their business strategy. How frequently do you engage them and ask this question? Remain continuously connected. Benefit from their insights. They benefit from yours, as well.
Evaluate your customer base per the following attributes:
- First, determine whether some customers want you to contact them more or less frequently than others. (Hint: This step is a basic professional courtesy that you owe yourself and your customers.)
- Next, identify the customers who only want to see you at contract renewal time. (Hint: Are these the types of customers you should be doing business with?)
- Finally, discovery the customers who would love for you to weigh in on what you think about critical business issues, even though these issues may have nothing to do with the products or services your company offers. (Hint: Is this request an indication that you are earning a trusted partner / thought-leader status at their business tables?)
As a result of re-evaluating your customer base, you also catalyze re-prioritization of customer retention strategy.
YOU become the common denominator in client side experience of your customer retention efforts.
Clients do business with YOU. You are the face of your organization. Not your support folks. Not your marketing and public relations initiatives. YOU.
The experience of working with you on negotiating that initial contract imprints on your customer’s DNA. If you provide a remarkable initial client side experience, your customers want to continue their experiences. Hopefully, they wish to continue their business relationship with YOU.
Client side experience of your customer retention strategy leverages delivery of your company’s ethics and values, as well as products, services and programs. Ultimately, customer retention strategy embeds in the success of your customers.
Do you have a strategic customer retention strategy spanning existing and new customers? How successfully do you implement your strategy each year? How can we improve the quality of your business outcomes?
Babette Ten Haken is the Founder and President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC. She has one of the most distinctive voices in today’s workforce, professional development and customer success communities. She traverses the interface between tech workforce hiring strategy and developing collaborative technical and business teams focused on customer success and customer retention. Babette’s playbook of technical / non-technical collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon. Visit the Free Resources section of her website for more tools.
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