Customer acquisition is an investment, but profitability is built on customer retention. Keep the customers you have and spend the majority of your marketing and f2f time doing it.
In a survey of engineering, technical, manufacturing and industrial marketers at the beginning of this year, 13% indicated that customer retention is their primary marketing goal in 2009, up from just 5% from 2008. It is easier and more cost-effective to retain current customers than it is to find new ones. That my friend is a plain and simple fact! If you want customers to be loyal to you, you must be loyal to them.
Customer service is the key. When customers have problems and questions, they want them solved and answered. The winning company makes it easy for customers to speak with a service representative — a real person, not an interactive voice response system — who has the authority to resolve a customer's issue, and yet we are paying these front line people $10.00 to $12.00 an hour, come on get real!
Some companies only see customer service as a cost center, which leads them to constantly look for ways to cut customer service costs. Customer service should be considered a customer retention initiative, or, in the best cases, a profit center of cross-selling and up-selling.
It is hard to foster customer loyalty if your customers forget about you. A great way to stay in touch is through e-mail. Establish a regular customer-only e-newsletter and send customers information that is relevant and helpful to them. While there's nothing wrong with promoting new products to customers, your main objective in customer retention e-mail should be education rather than promotion. If you help them do their job better, they're more likely to come to you when they need your products or services.
Larson note: My companies primary focus is on lead generation and new account acquisition. Yet I know that customer retention is more important. A bird in the bag is worth 2 in the tree? I would be changing that to be worth at least 4 or even a dozen when it comes down to customers. Never forget your customers. As a sales person and marketer it is your job to remember the customer not there job to remember you.
Larson & Associates
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