Print Print

Personalize it

personalize_210092335

Four customer retention strategies

By Wendy Nemitz

The No. 1 trend in consumer preference for 2015 is personalization. Gone are the days of generic, untargeted messaging and operating under the assumption that existing customers will stay with you forever.

According to Marketing Wizdom, a market leadership consultancy, the average business loses 20 percent of its customers every year because the relationship was not maintained. By investing time in your existing customers, they will remain loyal and you will retain their business.

Here are four ways to improve how you connect with customers for increased loyalty and retention.

Address your customers’ future needs

Internal client highlighter meetings are a top way to ensure that your existing relationships are maintained. The purpose of these meetings is to bring into the conversation other team members who may have fresh ideas about the customer because they don’t work with it every day. The resulting recommendations — provided at least once a year — provide customers with proactive advice and new ideas, as well as help communicate the value your company delivers. These meetings also train team members to think critically about customer operations and what they’ll need from your company one year or five years from now.

Do your research

Before your next customer meeting or call, read about the customer’s industry. Are there opportunities or challenges impacting the industry? What trends are you seeing? Keep these in mind as discussion points during your conversation. Also, find out which professional or trade organizations support the industry. Consider joining, if allowed, and attend meetings to increase your knowledge of the industry and to network. This is a proven way to find great new customers that are similar to the ones you have and to strengthen your reputation in the industry.

Take good notes

As you communicate with customers, make note of any personal information they offer, such as a child’s upcoming birthday or a family vacation. Referring to these personal details in follow-up conversations shows that you listen well and that you care about them on a deeper level. Personal value is the No. 1 reason buyers stick to a certain brand or provider.

Work your process

Existing customers expect their service providers or vendors to check in with them regularly. The frequency depends on the customer, but it helps to create a process for all staff to follow consistently. Here are some ways to reach out to your customers throughout the year.

Service businesses

  • Conduct a client highlighter meeting (once customer relationship is established).
  • Send a follow-up letter or email with recommendations/suggested services.
  • Schedule a phone call to discuss recommendations/additional services.
  • Invite the customer to participate in a focus group.

Product businesses

  • Invite the customer to join your mailing list/social media pages for product updates/rebates.
  • Offer a free demo or mail a sample.
  • Ask the customer to provide a testimonial or to review a product.
  • Send a customer satisfaction survey.

Wendy Nemitz is founding principal of Ingenuity Marketing Group, LLC in St. Paul, Minnesota, a national leader in professional service branding, marketing and growth strategy for local and regional accounting firms, engineers and other professional service firms. Contact her at wendy@ingenuitymarketing.com, (651) 690-3358 or www.ingenuitymarketing.com.