We all do it don’t we? We sometimes are so keen to grow the business that we focus too much on getting new customers. We forget that it’s much easier to keep existing customers and sell to them, sometimes it’s good to evaluate your strategy in the light of this truth that we all know.
Marketing has progressed a thousandfold in its acronym use since the 4-Ps (Product, Price, Promotion & Place/Distribution). The latest variant to the customer retention model is the 5-Ss. SERVICE, SEGMENTATION, SELLING, SYSTEMS and, oh yes, SERVICE (again)!
I would argue that by looking again at your strategy in these 5 (four!) key areas of marketing there is a good chance that you will find opportunities to generate more revenues from your existing customers.
Step one: Segmentation – Successful sales organisations segment customers by their buying behaviour: are they loyal and relationship-based, value-seeking or fickle, transactional or price-driven? You should treat each group differently and expect different responses. For example, constant stimulus and repetition of sales offers works best with fickle transaction-based customers. A more subtle, less ‘hard sell’ approach is needed with loyal and relationship-centred customers.
Step two: Service – High service standards help build a brick wall around your customers. They may be tempted away by crazy prices but your superior service levels will make it hard for them to leave. Make sure your service is as good as you think it is. If you have time then use customer surveys (but use them well) and conduct one-on-one reviews with top customers. Do what one successful business I know does: each senior manager calls one customer a week simply to check that all is well and to tell them that they value their business. Good service sells repeat business.
Step three: Systems – Examine whether your systems are working for you or against you. Do they flag up soon-to-end contracts early enough? Is there a robust system in place to ensure that the customer is contacted? That the contact is followed up? Sage Act is as good as any.
Step four: Selling Do you still actively sell to existing customers? It’s ironic that no one knows a customer better than their existing providers, yet all too often we fail to sell to existing customers. We don’t want to seem greedy, or we worry being pushy might damage the relationship. Often, we’ll take the view that we’ve ‘already got what we came for’. Yet, customers expect us to come to them with new ideas and new offers, they want us to innovate and help them. If we’ve been doing our job properly they’ll want to stay with us. So why surrender that hard-won ground to the hungry competition?
Think, too, about your reward systems. Are you paying people only to win new business, or are you also rewarding highly profitable, but less glamorous, customer retention activity?
Customer retention is one key to profit and business stability, but it’s often (still) overlooked. Review your segmentation, your service, your systems and your selling, and seize the opportunities within your grasp.