At the heart of customer defection is the lack of satisfaction. This isn't the same as dissatisfaction, which means an active dislike for something. Lack of satisfaction is simply the absence of any good reason for a customer to stick around.
In a U.S News and World Report it was reported that a whopping 91 percent of customers who leave do simply because they are not satisfied.
How do you satisfy customers and retain their business? Any number of ways.
All good relationships are based on open and truthful communications, and that is a commonsense place to start. Specifically this means asking questions, staying in touch, and being generous. These are all part of taking an interest in your customer and their customers'.
Dean Rieck blog post on customer retention hits on 3 key points that I found well worth repeating.
Step 1: Ask Questions
Communication is the key in any relationship. Do your customers like your product or service? What do they like? What do they wish was different? Ask them! It’s the only way you’ll find out what’s working and what’s not.
You can ask directly with a short email questionnaire, a comment card in your shipped packages, a phone survey, a feedback form on your website, or any other way you can get answers about your customers’ experiences.
Not only should you ask directly, but keeping those lines of communication open is key. Some ways to do this include toll-free customer service numbers or a special customer service email address. This information should be as common to your website, literature and invoices as your company name and logo. Only well-trained problem solvers who can build relationships out of complaints should be staffing these numbers and emails.
These interactions can be kept up to date on your CRM database, so that every person who has contact with a customer knows the buying and communication history of that particular customer. You can also easily update address and status changes, so that your customer’s experience with you is completely customized.
Step 2: Stay in Touch
Ever have a close friend drift away because you didn’t stay in touch? Customers can drift, too.
A simple newsletter can be mailed or emailed to your customers’ homes on a regular basis, maintaining a friendly familiarity and keeping your company top of mind. It can include anything that may be interesting, relevant, or useful to your customers, with a balance of information about your product, service, or company.
Letters and emails are also great ways to keep in touch. CRM software can allow you to tailor your correspondence based on the customer’s status in the buying cycle, personal interests, or past purchases. You can also be sure your best customers or leads get special offers or inside information.
A blog" target="_self">blog on your website is also another informal way to share information, communicate with your customers, and encourage participation through comments and questions. Now your customer is not only treated as an individual, but gets to know the people behind the company.
Step 3: Be Generous
People are willing to pay for quality, but you have to show that you value their business.
Little acts of unexpected generosity can go a long way toward cementing your relationship with customers. Free car wash with a tank of gas, free tunes with an MP3 player, free lamp with a desk, free books with a class, and other little extras make your customers feel that you’re more of a friend, than another company taking their money.
In the end, business is more about relationships than sales. If you develop and nurture those relationships through genuine communication, you can attract, keep, and multiply your customers. With a CRM system" target="_blank">CRM system (strategy / processes/ software), you can track every communication for the best possible outcome.