Losing a customer remains at the top of an organization's nemesis. Gaining a new customer on one hand but watching an existing customer leave you is like pouring fine wine in a glass with no bottom. Depending on the industry you are in, it takes big money and time to win a customer. Do you know what its costing you? Lets face it, keeping a customer is less expensive than finding one. Research by business consultants firm The Brookeside Group and the author of "Great or Poor" Guy Arnold, conclude that companies can boost profits by as much as 85 percent by focusing on why clients stay with you. Customer loyalty can also have the same impact as reducing operating costs by as much as 10 percent. American Express weighs in with their findings. "Consumers are willing to pay an average of 36 per cent more for a decent pub meal if the service, food and atmosphere are of a high standard." Unfortunately many larger organizations still put their bucks into huge sales and marketing initiatives but cut back, to their peril, on customer service analysis and training of employees.
When it comes to boosting customer loyalty, bigger companies don't always know better.
The good news is that you can dramatically improve your own customer loyalty by understanding the impact your workplace culture has on customer retention.
Here we will map out some simple observations to put you on the right course toward employee engagement and customers remaining on board.
Building a customer centered culture focusing on customer service and customer experience will help you influence customer loyalty. We all know what its like to receive great customer service. What we may not know is our decision to stay with a company is more about our overall customer experience. Although an essential part of your customer's overall experience, it is just a part of a larger equation. It is possible to provide great customer service and fall short of their experience with you.
VP and research director Harley Manning of Forrester Research defines customer experience as “how customers perceive their interactions with a company along each step of a customer journey, from discovery, to purchase and use, to getting service.”
What is your client's perception of your company? Is interaction with your organization conducive to them staying? Is your customer’s recollection of their entire experience with you, from start to finish, at all touch points, a good one? Although customer service helps to shape the overall customer experience it doesn’t fully define it. Customer service is generally about assisting your customer with a specific need or problem. In their book "Outside In", Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine note:
“People call customer service when they have a problem. So equating customer service with customer experience is like saying that a safety net is a trapeze act. Yes, the net is important to the act. But if the performer needs to use the net then something has gone wrong with the show.”
You can turn any potentially negative experience into a positive one if you can anticipate your customer's needs in the beginning. Train your sales people to be champions which will also help them provide a great customer experience.
The influence your employees have on how your company delivers a great brand experience can not be overemphasized. An engaged workforce creates a performance culture which becomes visible to your customers. When problems arise, as they certainly will, your employees will be up to the task of providing a positive customer experience. Engaged employees are deeply involved in figuring out how to meet your organization's objectives for the good of all.
Creating the perception as a caring organization will resonate well within the marketplace. A salesforce armed with product knowledge will also boost sales and customer retention because you can better answer questions and be of service. An employee recognition and rewards program that encourages positive behaviors such as wellness and performance achievement will seem magically to contribute to your customer's experience. When customers are happy they stick around.
When customers stick around your business does well which boosts moral. When moral is boosted performance goes up. In short your efforts translate into strategic and financial success.
Remember that by addressing employee turnover you will also contribute to customer retention. You might want to consider a Peer to Peer recognition program as an effective, low cost approach for reducing employee turnover, boosting performance and morale.
Some of us may have read about the popular S&H Green Stamps back in the early 1990's. (also called Green Shield Customers. Customers would receive stamps at the checkout counter of supermarkets, department stores, and gasoline stations among other retailers, which could be redeemed for products in the catalog.
No one can deny that Green Stamps did much to keep customers loyal. Their employees were also engaged and excited about the program. We have learned much from Sperry & Hutchinson company (S&H), founded back in 1896 by Thomas Sperry and Shelley Byron Hutchinson.
Today our knowledge of customer relations has evolved and now includes the use of more sophisticated CRM and ROI technology. That fact doesn't diminish one vital basic fact. Customer loyalty begins with creating employee loyalty. Being more in tune with your employees' emotional and social needs connects them to your customer's experience and loyalty. Developing customer loyalty consists of innovation, cooperation and a healthy communication mechanism between management and employees will contribute to your efforts in providing the ultimate in customer satisfaction.
Put a higher value on these facts and learn how you can keep more customers around.