یکشنبه 4 شهریور‌ماه سال 1386

Renewing Customer Loyalty

Studies show that the average business looses 20 percent of its customer base each year.  For example, let's say your business has 700 customers that buy repeatedly from you during the year and each customer spends an average of $300 a year. If you loose 20 percent of them ( one hundred and forty), you'll loose $42,000 a year. That's a lot of money to make up with new customers.

The longer you keep a customer the more he or she is worth to you. In
part, because it takes a lot more money to acquire a new customer than
it does to keep an existing one. In fact, businesses that are able to
consistently keep the majority of their customer base are usually the
ones that have increased profits year after year. Loyal customers spend
more, they refer new customers, and it costs less to do business with

Before you can effectively put a plan in place to provide the highest in
quality service and market to your existing customers, you first have to
know the lifetime value of your customers. When you know the lifetime
value of your customers it helps you budget more effectively. You know
better how and where to best use your marketing dollars. This is valuable
information that every business needs to know if it is going to be
successful. And the only way to get this information is by knowing the
lifetime value of your customer.

Once you know how much each customer contributes to your bottom line,
you will begin to understand the value of hanging on to them. To do a
better job of keeping your customers, you need a system to gather
information about them and how they feel about your product and
services. One of the best ways to do this is through using questionnaires
on a regular basis. Ask questions such as: Why do you buy from us?
How well do we meet your needs? How can we improve what we're
doing? What are we not doing that you'd like us to do? What do you find
valuable about us? What's valuable about our competition?

You can ask these questions through a mailed questionnaire, e-mail, or
by having one of your employees call them. Beside the obvious value in
knowing the answers, you get a few bonuses as well. First, your
customers will be happy the you bothered to find out what they want.
Second, you'll learn about specific problems that could cause you to
loose them. You'll get ideas for your products or services, and you'll find
out some valuable information about your competition.

When you know you've lost a customer, try to bring them back through an
interview. If you don't get them back, at least you can get valuable
information that will help prevent you from losing additional customers.
But, you first have to find out why they have stopped doing business with
you. And the way you do this is by asking questions such as; Was it a
question of price or quality? Was a better offer made by our
competition? Was it inadequate responsiveness? Were promises not
kept? Were complaints not resolved? Was it overall dissatisfaction?

Whether you are sending a questionnaire, using e-mail, or interviewing
them by phone always use open ended questions that require an active
response. Use questions that start with What? When? Where? Who?
Which? How? You'll find that open ended questions help narrow down
and specify their reasons for leaving.

Businesses loose customers due to poor service more than for any other
reason. When you make a service mistake and a customer complains,
you have an opportunity to win back that customer and gain long-term
loyalty. Here is a five step plan you could implement when a customer

Apologize and acknowledge the error.

Take urgent action. Quick effort shows you have the customer's interest
at heart.

Show empathy. Customers want to know you care about their feelings.

Compensate them in some way. (It doesn't have to be monetary)

Follow-up. Make sure you've satisfied the customer.

To transform your business into one that is committed to retaining as
many customers as possible, you need support at every level. Provide
customer service training for all your managers, frontline customer-
service people, and everyone else in the organization. Teach your lower-
level employees how important it is to keep customers, and show them
how to be on the alert for unhappy customers. Give them a system for
identifying unhappy customers, and reward them for using it.

Make it easy for customers to bring their problems to you so you can see
where you need to improve. Make sure you have an 800 number that is
designated solely for customers. Have a special section of your Web
site designated for customer comments. You could even offer a modest
gift of some kind for customers who alert you to a problem. And always
offer some type of satisfaction guarantee on your product or service.

Most businesses can do a much better job keeping their customers.
Write down your goals for keeping all your customers. Make sure
everyone in your organization is aware of them and is working to achieve
them. Identify the customers who have left you or are about to. Then,
bring those customers back by working to solve their problems and
satisfy their needs. And finally, use the feedback you get from both
former and current customers to put customer-friendly policies and
procedures in place.

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