Anyone out there experiencing customer retention pain? The overwhelming majority of folks who contact me equate customer retention with a dental root canal procedure. In fact, often they prefer the latter over the former.
It doesn’t have to be this way, you know. However, the first step in pivoting customer retention pain into business success is a function of how you “see” customer retention.
By now, you all know me well enough to recall my professional mantra. “Depending on where we sit around the table, we all ‘see’ things, differently. Shouldn’t our differences become our strengths and opportunities, instead of status quo impediments?”
Thus, a structural element from my One Millimeter Mindset™ Leadership Playbook focuses clients on building a strong foundation for customer retention. In order to achieve this outcome, you must understand and leverage three distinct customer retention contexts, seated around that business table.
The three contexts are: Your Business Unit (Sales and Marketing), Your Operations (Manufacturing, Supply Chain, Finance) and Your Client.
Playbook Bonus: Discover the Top 5 Negative Customer Retention Scenarios responsible for customer retention pain. Download here.
First, is your business unit’s definition of customer defection actually reducing the level of customer retention pain you experience as a sales person?
Typically, marketing and sales own the concepts of customer churn and defection. As a result, they take extraordinary measures to prevent customers from doing business elsewhere. However, the strategy and tactics of these customer defection prevention measures often are more effective on specific, high-value customer segments, than they are on all others.
As a sales person, you have a boots-on-the-ground perspective of customer retention pain, long before marketing and sales tactics can come to your rescue (or not). However, as a sales person, you are compensated to chase new customers, instead of sticking close to existing ones. So, you abandon newly won customers after the contract is signed.
As a result, the success of your own customer retention strategy hinges on your business unit’s latest customer experience scorecard. How often are these results delivered too little, too late?
After all, clients are not anxiously waiting for the latest CX survey to show up on their mobile device. Customers do not care about what the statistics show. They only know about their own experiences, relative to doing business with you. So, where have you been in the time between contract renewals? Because that time period spawns the root cause of customer retention pain.
Your first pivot? CX surveys do not stick close to the customer, you do. So, start interacting with your client on a regular basis, in a relevant and valuable manner. Here’s how.
Second, stick close to more than your customer. Start hanging around with every colleague who touches that post-sale customer. Regardless of what continent they work in.
If you want to avoid the customer retention pain of sitting across the desk from an irate client at renewal time, stop focusing on cross-selling and upselling. Clients just may not want to buy more when they are not experiencing solid outcomes from their current investments.
One of the best ways to determine post-sale performance is by working with the departments responsible for design, development, deployment, implementation and service. Yes, these departments include those skeptical technical professionals who intimidate you.
If you all just happen to work in departmental silos, so what? Poke holes in those silos. Your cross-functional colleagues may be curious to find out the identify of the sales person responsible for the last contract that came in-house, over-promised and under-specified.
After all, customer retention pain starts when that contract comes in-house for execution. So, face the music, sit with these colleagues and find out where things have been coming up short for some time, now.
Your second pivot? Avoid customer retention pain at renewal by reviewing proposals with post-sale colleagues, pre-close.
Third, customer retention strategy is continuously applied to customers. Not just at renewal time. Even when there is absolutely nothing to sell.
Sales and post-sales retention professionals of worth who listen to their customers, truly stick close to the customer. When you specialize in each customer’s needs, you stop waiting for quarterly CX scores to justify their continuing to do business with you. In fact, if there is anything to discuss about those scores, it just may be that the scores are not applicable to their specific client scenario.
Pivoting customer retention pain into business success (theirs and yours) involves strategic customization, not a one-size-fits-all approach. Taking the time to become an expert on each of your customers’ businesses makes both of you more knowledgeable, competitive and successful. For any of you reading this post, who feel executing this strategy is time-consuming, guess again. This customer retention strategy is proactive and anticipatory.
Add up all the time you spend, currently, at renewal. Chasing clients, leaving voicemails and emails which either are deleted or unreturned. That’s customer retention pain.
Your third pivot? Now, consider the alternative. Customers who welcome the opportunity of continuing to do business with you because, after all, you have been renewing them, continuously, all along.
Looking for a Speaker to connect the dots between IoT customer acquisition and customer retention? Look no further. Contact Babette.
Take the next steps towards a rock solid customer retention strategy:
Babette Ten Haken, Founder & President of One Millimeter Mindset™ 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. Image source: Fotolia