In a world with a growing number of vendors for a variety of commodities, it can be tough to attract and retain customers. For example, if I get sick of one streaming service because they increased their prices or updated their household sharing rules… not naming any names, but we all know who I’m talking about… then I’ll move to one of the 50 other streaming services available in North America. I might be alone in that example, but think about a time when a product or solution wasn’t meeting your needs and you decided to jump ship and move elsewhere.
Now I recognize I am just one person, and my business is not going to make or break said streaming service. Instead, think of a SaaS company and scale it up to be one large enterprise account leaving. Depending on the size of the SaaS company, it might hurt, it might not. Now amplify that, 10 large enterprise accounts leaving, and that has the potential to be a big blow to a company’s revenue.
Think about companies that have a really loyal customer case: how do they retain and keep their customers happy? Through research, I have heard firsthand what ensures a customer’s loyalty and, maybe even more importantly, what can turn a negative experience around and keep customers coming back. Here are seven actions that can help build a loyal customer base and avoid the dreaded churn.
- Ensure a warm hand-off from sales to implementation. A personal touch can go a long way. I’ve heard time and time again; people appreciate when their sales rep – even if they don’t handle the implementation or next steps – checks in to see how everything is going and if the customer needs anything. It makes the customer feel valued. What customers don’t want is to pay money and hear crickets, unsure of the next steps. A little proactive communication can go a long way in starting a partnership on the right foot.
- Deploy customer satisfaction research to determine where you’re excelling and where you’re falling short. This can help your organization target issues quickly or pivot when needed. Additionally, if industry changes occur, you can work to stay relevant to the companies you serve.
- Regularly ask customers for feedback, but more importantly, ACT on the feedback. For example, some companies have deployed a product or feature request function, where customers can input product requests, feedback, bugs, etc. This makes customers feel like their voice is important. It can turn your vendor-client relationship into more of a partnership. Customers want the vendors they work with to continuously grow and improve with them.
- Invest in continuous improvement and innovation. Be receptive to those “wish list” items, for example, or fix bugs in an appropriate timeframe. It can also look like investing in white glove service training to bolster customer support. Support is incredibly important, both knowledge level and response time. However, what can be even more important is how team members treat customers. Sales reps, support folks – any customer-facing individual – can learn more about how to leave a lasting *positive* impression and go above and beyond. Through research, we are hearing that reviews and an individual’s peer network hold more and more weight when considering new vendors. If your current customers are happy and have a positive impression of your organization, they are more likely to spread the word about your company and be an unofficial reference. Check out my colleague’s blog post about our fantastic white glove service training, linked here.
- Be a partner – work with and invest in customers. Customers typically have a good idea of where the industry is headed as they live and breathe it most days. Putting an emphasis on the partnership mentality and putting your customer first can go a long way.
- Educate customers about the FULL value of your services and offerings – also helps win deals. For SaaS and tech companies, it is important that customers know about all the awesome features of the tool and how to use them. This could look like monthly Lunch & Learns or email blasts with a short video demoing a new or lesser-known feature. The more value customers feel they are getting from the system, the more likely they are to stick around.
- Focus on branding and adding meaningful content to social media. Organizations have taken to social media, like LinkedIn. One way they’re capitalizing on social media is by posting free webinars covering industry-related topics – for example, a subject matter expert discussing a topic of interest to their customers. I’m hearing, with increasing frequency, that this is how organizations are first learning about a vendor and is the reason they later consider the vendor’s services, solution, etc.
Do you know why your customers are happy? If not, Ideba is here to help. By instituting various research initiatives, we can dive into where your organization is excelling and where it needs to tighten down the hatches to ensure no one “jumps ship.” Drop a comment or send us an email if you’re interested in learning more about how Ideba can help you learn how to keep your customers happy.
Kristen Higgins – Research Manager