In todays competitive environment it is important that more customers are won and market share widen on a regular basis. Customers should be made to stay loyal by offering them a quality product, superior service experience and a thought out customer service practice should be put in place to ensure continued customer satisfaction and loyalty.
That customer would be won and lost is a reality of modern business. However, the effect of such losses should be reduced to its barest minimum having at the back of our minds that it is more costly and time-consuming to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one.
In my previous articles, I took time to consider the dynamics of todays customers, the impact of the social media on business interaction. Lastly, I did ask the question where has my customer has gone. I am sure they are a good read.
In this article, I will focus on specific strategies that could aid you in winning back lost customers.
My Premise: Osondi Owendi
Osondi Owendi would translate to means others are happy and other sad or one mans meat is another mans poison. This song was composed by late chief Stephen Osita Osadebe a prominent Nigerian highlife musical legend. The lyrics of the song intelligently summarizes the premise that I will be launching this article from and that is you cannot please all the people all the time, while some would adjudge your performance as being satisfactory others might still have reservation about your performance.
My slogan for staying on top of the game is Keep all and lose none. This may sound over ambitious when you consider the reasons for customers defection which I will highlight in this article. However, setting such a high standard in customer service will only help us to do better at ensuring that we retain our customers.
That customers will be lost in the course of the business lifecycle is a fact that we must all live with; however, we must be mindful of the fact that such loss can be detrimental to the survival of the company if not properly managed.
Cheryl Sowa said For the average company, up to 40 percent of customers will depart this year and not return. And while every business will likely lose some customers, losing too many could be detrimental to the future of the company
What you should know:-
1. The average company loses 10 percent of its customers each year.
2. Acquiring new customers can cost five times more than satisfying and retaining current customers.
3. A two percent increase in customer retention has the same effect on profits as cutting costs by 10 percent.
4. A 5 percent reduction in customer defection rate can increase profits by 25-125 percent, depending on the industry.
5. The customer profitability rate tends to increase over the life of a retained customer.
From the information above we could run the following conclusion
The cost of winning back a lost customer is less than attracting new ones
Every business losses customer but the most important point is to retain existing customers, win more, and win back those that can be won back
Whether you like it or not no matter what you do some customer will not return
Customers are the lifeblood of business hence they must be attracted to the business and kept.
You gained more from the won-back-customer. The concept of second-lifetime value (SLTV) states that won back customer tend to remain loyal once they are brought back.
CATEGORIZING CUSTOMERS BASED ON THEIR REASONS FOR DEFECTION.
1) ITCHY FOOT-PACEY DEFECTORS. These are customers who felt that their needs have changed and the company or product could no longer satisfy their tastes. For example the Millennial or Generation Y. These are young people who grew up in an electronics-filled and increasingly online and socially-networked world. Compared to baby boomers the millennial are redefining what service should be on the basis of speed, accuracy, and globally accepted standard. They will not accept the traditional ways of doing things based on step by step procedure but they determine service on the basis of the globally accepted standard of openness, speed, and accuracy. They won’t accept excuse on the basis of internal procedure because they live in a world where an acceptable standard is the same everywhere.
2) PRICE INSTIGATED DEFECTORS. These are defectors that left because of low price offered elsewhere. These customers are conscious of the slighted difference in prices and are usually seen among the older generation- the pensioners, low-income earners and sometimes the internet savvy individuals. They are very careful in making a purchase decision and would check different dealers, vendors or stores before they buy.
3) VARIETY INSPIRED DEFECTORS. Come to think of it, these are individuals whose appetite for a new product or service experience is so much that they become susceptible to being won over by competitors. For examples, you would notice that the GenX would prefer to stick to a product that they have known for years than the millennial who are more easily pulled away by competitors through the use of advertorials, fashion inspired publicity, music, and social media or any other things that appeal to them.
4) BAD SERVICE EXPERIENCED DEFECTORS. Just as good service causes a customer to do a repeat visit so also would bad experience pull them away from repeating their calls. It is more dangerous when this is not quickly noticed and resolved. Those who leave without saying a word are more dangerous to the survival of your business than those who voice out their displeasure.
5) COMPANYS REJECTED DEFECTORS. The desire of every company is to have more customers, however, truth be told there are times when you prefer not to do business with a particular customer particularly when the cost of keeping such customer paled out the potential for return. For example, a customer whose debt rate impaired operations is better let go than being kept. This will also include the implacable and black-listed customers. When you realized that continue association with a blacklisted customer will damage brand reputation it is simply better to let go.
STRATEGY FOR WINNING BACK LOST CUSTOMER
From the preceding categorization, it would become obvious to a discerning mind that it is not every lost customer that can be won back and at the same time is not every lost customer that is worth running after.
It becomes pertinent, however, that some defectors whose impacts on the bottom line are noticeable should be lull back to the business.
Based on the categorization it is also important to point out here that individuals have justifiable reasons for defecting so we are not necessarily concerned with or being judgmental but to create a basis for relating to various customers who left for one reason or the others.
In the word of Sam Walton, There is only one boss- The customer. And he can fire everyone in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else. This quote brings us back to the place of customers in business and the reason why we should pay attention to them.
STEPS IN WINNING BACK A LOST CUSTOMER
KEEP A CUSTOMER DATABASE. A customer database can be likened to a customer information management system that provides you with a general view of customer related information such as bio-data, demographics, shoppers traffic profile ( traffic rate analysis which include telephone calls, visits, proposals sent or received etc). In its simple format, it can be designed on an excel worksheet or in its more advanced format you could have a CRM software that offers an interface between your front office and back office.
Such database enables you to track your customer profile. It will quickly draw your attention to any noticeable change or drop in customer volume. This should be updated and monitored on a regular basis. If you dont know who your customers are when they leave you will never know.
ASK FOR FEEDBACK ON A REGULAR BASIS. Feedbacks in the form of Voice of Consumer (VOC), Product or Service Post Usage Evaluation Form (PPUEF), Complain Drop box (CB), Customer Help lines (CH), One on One interface (OOI) etc. Feedback is one of the most valuable tools that will aid you in having better engagement with your customers, its support customer partnership or customer input in product design and facilitate improved company/customers relationship. It is important to point out here that if your want an enduring relationship with your customers always remember to treat and handle their complaint as feedback.
WHEN THE CUSTOMER IS DISSATISFIED LEARN TO USE THE MAGIC WORDS
It has been proven that the use of appropriate words and phrases when discussing with an upset customer has a significant impact on his or her brain and a natural tendency of calming floundered nerves.
The Magic Words:
I am sorry
Please ( The pitch or tone of your voice matter when saying please-not please as in asking a question- say it to let the customer know that you are paying attention)
I (we) take responsibility for the mistake
I (we) will do everything within my (our) capacity to make it up for you
Thank you for the feedback it will help us serve you better
You are welcome
Sir or Maam
Please note that the genuineness with which these words are said would bring out their magic. They must be said empathically for a better result.
PAY THE CUSTOMER A VISIT IF YOU ARE PERMITTED, PUT A CALL ACROSS OR SEND AND EMAIL.
When any of these is done it gives the customer the impression that he or she is truly valued. It is advisable that you go along with a more senior officer and you will be surprised how the customer could mellow down and return to you.
PROVIDE THE CUSTOMER WITH AN UPDATE ON IMMEDIATE ACTION TAKEN TO CORRECT THE LAPSES OR DEAL WITH THE SOURCE OF THE DISSATISFACTION.
Let them know that actions were taken and that the errors had been corrected.
SEND THEM A WELCOME BACK LETTER OR PERSONALLY RECEIVE THEM WHEN THEY RETURN THEIR VISIT.
No business survives without the customers and because it is more costly to win a new customer and make them stay loyal than losing a customer would become more costly for the organization. However, while it is possible to lose a customer, it is equally possible to win a lost customer back. I have offered some practical steps that should be taken and I hope it helps.
1. Dr. LeRoy H. Graw, President American Certification Institute. Materials on Certified International Customer Service Professional.
2. Jim Collins & Morten T.Hasnsen Great By Choice
3. The Americans Best 2009 July/August Edition
4. Peter F. Drucker Management Tasks, Responsibilities, Practice
5. Polaris Marketing Research, Inc
6. Philip Kotler Marketing Management The Millennium Edition
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