All brands focus on gaining new ground and increasing market share. But customer acquisition can be expensive, and the strategies devised to bring in new customers must also look to retain existing ones.
An influx of new customers creates a shift in the day-to-day as your in-store sales and on-call customer support staff are stretched and tested. Sheer increase in the volume of footfalls and enquiries will make it inevitable for few customers to be kept waiting and this doesn’t always sit well with everyone.
Train your team to deal with upset customers, both old and new. After all, gearing up for growth is about being prepared for increased enquiries, support requests, and varied cultural contexts that present new and diverse needs.
More customers mean more talking to do. More greeting, meeting, and more hands to hold. It won’t matter whether your customers are there to browse, watch a demo, place an order, or make a purchase. You may not be able to please them all, and there is the very real possibility that some customers may feel short-changed.
New customers think your time is theirs and will lay claim to it. They like to be considered special. Some may expect immediate attention because they’re bringing you new business. If your marketing efforts helped in converting them to your brand, these customers, and just as often, your marketing team, tends to believe these customers are especially entitled.
Older customers resent sharing time with newer ones. A long-standing customer may not appreciate having to spend time waiting. Some may feel bothered enough to turn their backs on your brand and move on.
Customer attrition is what happens when old customers choose to walk out and take their business elsewhere. But despite the long years of research on customer attrition in diverse markets, the predictive accuracy of its rate and outcome continues to remain ambiguous at best.
Customer churn – the phrase that fits. Increased market share or a growing customer network can cause things to shift. As you focus on attracting new customers, you may lose some old ones.
Simple ways to stem the churn. With a well-trained team of customer support agents and in-store sales staff, any brand can make customer interaction an opportunity to build loyalty. Here are a few ideas that will get you thinking about what more you could do for your business.
- Realign your team. Call up every last person you have to divvy up the work and ensure every customer gets the attention they need. Good managers know the skills and abilities of their team. This understanding can help create a safety net of customer support where everyone from the top boss and other managers are pulling together, inspiring your team and your customers alike.
- Optimize with the two-fer. Meet two objectives with a single effort. For example, you could place an eye-catching, informative or interactive product display just inside the entry. As some customers get pulled in by it, a dedicated team has the opportunity to connect with them. This in turn staggers the flow of footfalls into the shopping aisles enabling your in-store staff to attend to customers, without much delay.
- Let customers have a look. Inform your customers about what you are doing for them and how long it will take. Talk them through it, so they get the feeling they are just as involved. If the customer is on the phone, try to avoid putting them on hold. If you must do so, be sure to inform the customer and return at timely intervals to reassure them.
- Engage customers, get them to stay. The longer they do, the better for you. A regular flow of customers in is good for business, but fewer customers moving out is better. When you retain your customer, you’ve earned an emissary for your brand. A positive story, in the first person, can slowly but steadily make customer acquisition less expensive.
- Top-down support inspires teams. When push comes to shove, it has to be all hands on deck. There is nothing more inspiring to your team than to have their boss working alongside them. Watching management or ownership talk with customers and work at building loyalty improves morale and lifts quality levels. This is a win-win because there is nothing a customer likes more than to know they’re speaking to the top boss.
- Integrity wins credibility. Brands must foster behavior that breeds confidence and trust in the customer. From advertising and marketing strategy to sales and support, the brand needs to tell the same truth, albeit in different ways, but always for the same reasons. This consistent honesty is what makes brands reliable to customers.
- Humility earns loyalty. When customers feel that their interests are placed ahead of the brand, it touches them emotionally. Even the most irate customer can feel the difference when they are given the right attention and professional engagement to resolve their issues. This is a positive display of the brand’s willingness to do right by their customers.
- When things go wrong, make good. Not all customer requests can be resolved in a way that the customer wants. People are fallible and even the best teams make the occasional mistake. Whether it is lapses in information or badly timed follow-up, the customer is at the receiving end. Unfortunate though they are, such situations do arise, and they provide the brand with an opportunity to right a wrong and engage with the customer.
Good customer support can make every customer feel acknowledged without discrimination or distinction. The objective is simple. Make every customer feel secure about their purchase decision, comfortable about using your product or service, and happy to reap the benefits that your brand promises.