First, there are inherently smaller workforces involved in running SMBs. As a result, every person’s contribution matters when it comes to customer success for customer retention.
What type of customer retention strategy drives customer success for your organization? Regardless of the size of your SMB, retaining today’s and tomorrow’s customers takes more than yesterday’s mindset and processes.
Often, SMB business models and leadership styles designate a defined human resource function. However, there is no true human capital strategy that the entire leadership team buys into. As a result, human resources executes a legacy people-procurement function. Consequently, the resulting workforce is full of homogeneous thinkers working in discrete, order-taker roles, basically responsible for executing a daily To-Do list.
Alternatively, what happens when HR becomes a human systems integration catalyst? When the workforce – regardless of job title or function – becomes responsible and accountable for driving customer success, they assume stakeholder roles. Things look different once the workplace is filled with a workforce of SMB leaders, rather than order-takers.
Then, the SMB leadership team leads a workforce of leaders. That is a powerful human capital development strategy.
When SMB workforce leadership takes charge, customer retention is not just about customer churn prevention.
Many SMBs view customer retention as a self-focused, client hoarding exercise. As a result, an organization hunkers down in the corporate castle, guarding current customers so they aren’t poached by invading competitors. Except, this strategy assumes that, once acquired, the customer’s needs, expectations and own strategy remain frozen in time.
How realistic is this perception? When you hoard SMB customers, are you truly in touch with them?
Customer churn prevention activities eventually compromise the health of many small to midsize businesses (SMBs). Instead of being customer-focused, the SMBs are customer churn-obsessed. As a result, the business becomes reactive rather than proactive and responsive to customer needs.
For starters, customer fight firing becomes the standard operating procedure. When organizations have business models revolving around fire-fighting mode, everyone continuously reacts to “What Just Happened?”
Due to lack of organization-wide communication, each problem is perceived as a unique and discrete occurrence. In addition, these organizations compound the problem. They segregate pre-sale activities from workforce-intensive, post-sale execution and implementation activities. In fact, these SMBs often have growing a history of root cause, repetitive, unaddressed problems.
Alternatively, consider what happens when SMB workforce leadership become stakeholders in executing a “what’s next” proactive customer retention strategy.
Unlike reactive organizations, proactive SMB workforce leadership see themselves from the customer’s perspective – from the outside looking back at the organization. As a result, proactive SMBs have an entirely different definition of factors impacting customer retention.
Then, each SMB workforce leader shares what they know with the rest of the workforce. No more information-hoarding in departmental silos.
Proactive organizations put themselves in the shoes of current customers, so they are best poised to retain them. Not only that. Proactive SMB workforce leadership understands the voice of their customers. Then, they interpret the implications for product and service innovation. As a result, the entire workforce drives both customer acquisition as well as retention.
Most importantly, enlightened SMBs understand that whether or not customers choose to retain you is entirely their decision, regardless of all the actions you take to retain them. If you are not continuously engaged and valuable to client growth, expansion and sustainability strategies, you will not be retained as a supplier-of-choice.
How can your SMB benefit from a more enlightened, workforce-driven customer retention strategy?
Next steps towards professional innovation:
- Read these related posts. Discover how risk aversion impacts professional innovation, workforce engagement and customer retention.
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Babette Ten Haken serves organizations as a corporate catalyst and innovative speaker, strategist, coach and storyteller. Babette’s One Millimeter Mindset™ Workshops and Speaking programs leverage collaboration to catalyze professional innovation, workforce engagement and customer retention, especially in challenging Industrial Internet of Things environments. Babette’s playbook of IIoT team collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon. She is a member of SME, ASQ, SHRM and the National Speakers Association.
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