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What is your customer retention rate? It’s a question that I was asked recently by the president of the group of radio stations I work for.
See, we’ve made a couple of changes this year, and a couple of our stations are almost sold out all the time, and the other two have room to grow.
So, as we look to sell out the two that have room for more advertisers, the first place to look is at former and current clients.
The Customers Rock! blog featured a post on this subject:
Here is a blast from the past, a classic Customers Rock! post on taking care of your current customers. Thanks to @Foundora for bringing it back to my attention. Enjoy!
Many companies spend a lot of time and money on attracting new customers to their product or service. Much of the marketing budget is spent on mass approaches such as advertising and direct mail. While those media may have their place in attracting prospects, they don’t help companies with their most valuable asset: their existing customer base.
Taking care of existing customers is a fantastic, cost-effective way to grow your business.
Drew McLellan shares some advantages we have when we concentrate on the “old” customers. I especially like the first advantage he lists:
“They know who you are and trust/like you enough that they’ve done business with you”
How well is your organization doing in its communications with your customers? What would cause them to trust you and want to come back for more?
Take a brief break here and think about the last 5 communications you received from companies you (or your company) are doing business with. What kinds of touches were they? Interactions with existing customers tend to be one of the following types:
- A bill
- An upsell offer
- A cross-sell offer
- A renewal offer
While there may be some customer value in these actions, they tend to be more favorable to the company than the customer. In order to keep and grow existing customers, a proactive strategy is needed. Here are some great ideas from a few of my favorite bloggers:
Meikah of Customer Relations shares with us some insight from Jack Stahl, former president of Coca-Cola and CEO of Revlon, on how to strengthen relationships in a B2B setting:
“Persist in offering value. Give consistent and routine attention, which shows that you are always interested in your customer’s business, in good times and bad. Also, have an ongoing dialogue with the retailer, when an opportunity arises to regain your business.”
Offering something of value to your customers is very important to furthering the relationship. If there isn’t value, customers may continue to do business with you for awhile, but the relationship will be short-lived. Keeping the communications line open, whether or not the customer has recently purchased something, is one of the keys to keeping up a conversation with customers.
Joe Rawlinson of Return Customer gives us some ideas on communicating appreciation with existing customers.
“When was the last time someone told you how much they appreciated you? How do you feel when you get a thank you note? If you’re like most, you get a warm fuzzy feeling inside. You smile. You feel a little bit better.
Don’t you think your customers would like to feel that same joy?”
Words of thanks are greatly valued by customers. They are a nice antithesis to all the sales calls and could actually make the next call more fruitful!
Rosa Say of Managing with Aloha tells us how to deliver on the promise of our customers’ dreams. She tells her readers about the art of creating loyal customers:
“Managing with Aloha incorporates the art of Ho‘okipa to achieve a service and product delivery that is unparalleled in the dreams of your customers, turning them into loyal customers for life. When people feel they have experienced the ultimate in good service and in hospitality, they return for more of it time and again.”
Customer loyalty comes from more than just great products and services. The customer experience has a very strong influence on customer attitudes towards an organization. I love the way Rosa describes it above – an experience that makes you want to return again and again.
Other ideas on how to create meaningful interactions with existing customers:
- Birthday cards/anniversary of start of relationship
- Invitations to customer appreciation events
- Asking for customer feedback, then acting on it and letting customers know the results
- Customer apologies, where needed
- Customer advisory boards
Which types of interactions you use depends on the company, it depends on the culture, and of course, it depends on what is important to the customer.
Finally, one can always use the element of surprise to keep relationships fresh. Here is an unexpected example from Bounce fabric softener shared in Andy Nulman’s blog.
Sometimes it is the little things that make all the difference.
(Photo credit: cookelma)
It is not saying you should talk a lot. More sales are lost by too much coming out of your mouth and not enough out of your customers mouth…
Daily Sales Tip: People Love a Good Story
Over the years as a speaker, manager and facilitator, I have observed the greatest retention of my message was from stories that I told.
The impact went beyond facts and theories. Stories engage the audience, were conversational, and tapped into the emotions and senses. Often I would encounter people years later and they would playback a story I had shared with them, and more importantly, voice the point of the story and how it helped them overcome barriers or create solutions to problems.
How to use stories to educate and explain:
Listen. Learn to listen to your audience for clues as to what would resonate with them and what is important in their world. Be prepared to tell a variety of stories from your arsenal.
Use personal experience as a basis for your story. The greatest way to build trust and relationships is to be vulnerable. The story can demonstrate how you had to overcome an obstacle or barrier, reveal up-close and personal experiences that your audience can relate to, and encourage them to remember we are all human.
Be genuine. Share real-life stories that can demonstrate how you can learn from your mistakes (usually the best lessons are from our mistakes), and demonstrate effective techniques on how to overcome barriers.
Engage your audience. Stories capture the imagination by allowing people to paint their own pictures and images of what you are sharing. Have a beginning, a middle, and end with a clear take-away. Like a good joke, it is all in the delivery of the story and your conviction.
Be conversational. The delivery should be natural in a conversational tone. You are letting your audience behind the scenes with this revealing story about people and events. It can be fun, serious, sad, dramatic — all the range of human emotions. People love a good story.
Source: Sales coach Paul Anovick
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How Chick-Fil-A’s Email Offer Brought Customers Into Stores
In a post at the Bronto blog, Julie Waite says you may know Chick-Fil-A recently introduced a Spicy Chicken Sandwich. “What you may not have heard,” she notes, “was that they ran a special invite-only event promotion to taste the new sandwich (for free!) well in advance of its launch date.”
For those who signed up for the promotion, here’s how the email campaign worked:
The first message confirmed the reservation. “We have you down for Tuesday, June 1, 2010 at my restaurant (Northgate Mall (NC)) between 11AM-2PM,” read Waite’s personalized note, which included the name and headshot of Garrett Reed, the store’s owner-operator.
It included a link to a printable invitation. A lengthier message described Chick-Fil-A’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich—the first new sandwich on its menu since 1989—and included all of the reservation’s details.
A second message—a friendly reminder—arrived the day before the event. “Again,” she says, “clear and simple instructions for redemption, a link to print my invite in case I lost it, and directions to the store. Perfect timing.”
Once at the restaurant, Waite discovered the “secret” event was, indeed, secret. “[T]here was no signage or anything that denoted the day’s special events,” she says, “which actually made us feel as if we were getting something special that others weren’t.” A few tabletop signs marked “Reserved for Spicy VIP” were the only indication of the sandwich-tasting promotion—and had little meaning for non-participants. “[A] clever way,” she concludes, “to add to the mystique and give a wink to those in the know.”
The Po!nt: Tastefully targeted emails really do work. Chick-Fil-A’s campaign drew Waite in with a solid email campaign and the promise of a tasty sandwich—and, importantly, it followed through on its promise of exclusivity.
Source: Bronto. Read the full post.
Daily Sales Tip: 6 Tips To Get Your Clients To Open E-Mails
Compelling subject lines get your e-mails opened by clients and prospects…and that must be the first goal of any e-mail. Use these tips for subject lines to improve your open rate.
1. Create a sense of urgency.
2. Include a benefit to the receiver.
3. Be consistent with your station’s image.
4. Signify the importance of the e-mail.
5. Play to the relationship you have or want.
6. Keep it short and to the point.
Good e-mail subject lines will make the client want to do something. Create your subject line by first knowing what you want clients and prospects to do.
Source: John Potter. VP/Training, Radio Advertising Bureau