Every savvy businessman knows that it costs much more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. As a matter of fact, recent estimates put the cost of acquisition to be 5-10 times more expensive than acquisition. In that regard, it’s no surprise that smart companies are constantly measuring customer retention rates rebalancing their areas of focus. These days, it’s less about saturating the market with promotions and more about keeping people they’ve already won over from jumping off the boat.
There are many factors that influence the ability of a business to retain customers and increase average lifetime values. Product quality, pricing, branding and customer service are all important facets of keeping patrons in the fold. However, new analytics and market studies all point to customer experience as the centerpiece of strong business-customer relationships.
The most common definition of customer experience (CX) is “the product of an interaction between an organization and a customer over the duration of their relationship.” This means that every publicly accessible touch point of your business – marketing, customer service, sales – all contribute to the overall satisfaction that customers get from interacting with your brand. The better you are at this, the greater the odds of you deriving business value fromexisting customers for years.
Here are several tips on how you can do that:
1. Emphasize Functionality in Your Web Design
For a lot of businesses, the first contact between them and their customers is the website. If you’re going to turn a visitor to your page into a lead, then a paying customer and then a patron that stays with you for the long haul, it’s in your best interest to make a great first impression.
One of the mistakes that businesses make when designing a site is the prioritization of flash over function. Sure, it’s impressive to see all sorts of moving visuals and special effects, but at the end of the day, customers go to your site to transact and not to watch your web design team show off.
By no means does this suggest that your site should look drab and boring, but design has to be built around a core user experience theme and not the other way around. Making navigation paths simple, investing in an intuitive internal search engine, and setting up an information architecture that makes things easy for users to find are the hallmarks of effective design.
2. Keep Forms Short
Whether you’re converting a visitor into a lead or a lead into a customer, a form always needs to be filled up with the user’s information. One of the most common mistakes that businesses make is the use of very long forms that confuse and frustrate users. To remedy this, keep the fields in your forms to the ones that extract just the information you need.
Never ask for a name when all you need is an email address. Never ask for a mailing address if you’re selling just digital products. When it comes to billing information, stick to the usual stuff. Asking for more details than what most people are accustomed to might spook them and compel them to seek other vendors.
3. Make Forms Helpful
Your form might seem straightforward and simple to you, but that’s because you’re the one who came up with it. Other people who are new to your website may view it differently and enter values that aren’t valid in the fields of your forms.
Nothing is more frustrating than having to repeatedly fill out a form and not know the reason why it’s being rejected. To avoid this issue, make sure to properly label fields and display examples in faint letters within them. You can also highlight fields that were skipped to give users an easy visual cue on what else they need to do.
4. No misleading sales pitches
Upselling is good, but if your pitches are perceived as misleading, customers might perceive your company as a shady operator. Make sure that you’re very clear in the value propositions of your upsells and be very clear with your calls to action. Avoid automatically adding items that a user did not select to their shopping carts and avoid hidden charges in any transactions that you make.
Overly aggressive upselling can annoy customers and distract from the real conversion path that you’re trying to set. Keeping your sales funnel simple and to the point will allow you to encourage purchases from new customers and it helps attract returning customers who seek convenience in their online shopping.
5. Consider Chat Support
When a customer has a question or concern, he or she will appreciate an immediate response. Email support is good, but it can take hours for a rep to respond, making it unfit for urgent cases. Calls are good, but being stuck in a call tree and being put on hold can make a frustrated customer even more irate. For those reasons, chat support can be added to supplement your customer support system.
Chat allows your customers to get quick help, allowing your team to have an easier time in pacifying them and resolving the issues they’re facing. On the flip side, chat support representatives can handle multiple customers at once depending on their skill levels – an edge over a voice support agent who can only talk to one person at a time.
Social Media Support
A lot of modern businesses use social media to get their marketing messages across. After all, most people on the Internet are active on at least one social networking platform. Leveraging social channels to try and acquire new customers is great and all, but a lot of companies don’t realize that it’s just as effective in customer retention.
If your company is on Faceboook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other social networks, make sure to entertain questions and address concerns there. An active social media presence gives people the impression that you can be reached anytime, so don’t disappoint them by not responding or pointing them to other support channels. Your marketing and customer support teams might not be the same people, but to customers, anything that has your brand should represents all the facets of your business.
You can use social media profiles as an extension of your chat support. It can also be used to collect customer phone numbers that can be forwarded to your voice support team for callbacks. Keep in mind that your company’s social media accounts are your website’s extensions and it carries the same support responsibilities as your other customer-facing channels.
- Loyalty Rewards
Treating customers not as statistics but as people who like being appreciated goes a long way in the world of business. It might seem like small things to you, but sending loyal customers small tokens during their birthdays, treating them to freebies, giving them discounts and issuing rebates can set you apart from the rest of the field.
People may love to shop around, but when they find a vendor that they like, they would rather buy from it repeatedly rather than looking around at other sites and creating new accounts with them. If you already have people in your customer list, nurture your relationship with them by sweetening deals and adding value to the money they spend on your goods or services. Keep in mind that you may earn less when you give discounts or offer freebies, but you’ll more than make that money back as your customer lifetime value extends and your customers spend more on your business.
Certainly, there are techniques that help improve customer experience, but at the end of the day, it’s really about putting yourself in the shoes of your target market. Keep on doing what’s best for them and what adds value to their relationship with you and your business decisions should all lead to positive reactions from members of your audience.