Retaining customers

It costs more, a lot more, to gain a customer than to retain one, and yet we spend most of our time and thought on gaining new business, rather than expanding existing.

An active approach to customer satisfaction and retention

  • Customers know if a company is taking an active approach to satisfying their concerns.
  • Customers know if a company is indifferent to their concerns.

And frequently, research has shown, it is perceived indifference from a company, more than an isolated bad experience, that sends a customer to a competitor.

Here are a few guidelines and recommendations for satisfying and retaining customers:

  • Look for opportunities to add unexpected value.  Customers stay loyal to companies that exceed expectations and over-deliver on service.
  • Know what the customer values most.  In gauging customer satisfaction, many companies are too inwardly focused – they wonder how clients perceive the company in areas that are most important to the company.  Too often companies forget to ask the customer what areas or services are most important to the customer.  Companies should use a database or other tool for recording the preferences of individual clients.
  • Ask the tough questions when you survey.  One company has found that it got the most telling predictors of its ability to retain customers by asking these two questions:  “Will you do business with us in the future?” and “Have you recommended our company to others?”  If your company fails to get a yes to either of these questions, it is in danger of losing a customer relationship.
  • Manage expectations over the life of a project.  Any customer service provider knows that customer relationships are really about managing expectations.  Problems may arise from a company making big promises on the front end, then losing sight of those promises as the service delivery process gets under way.  The result is a disappointed customer.
  • Look outside your own industry and study the best practices of other companies.

See also: Total Customer Service for all


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