Four Fundamentals for Retaining Your Best Customers

By Alice Heiman

At any given company, roughly 20 percent of customers are the source of 80 percent of the company’s profits.

That means losing even one account from the 20 percent can really hurt.  

And what if you want to recruit new customers to make up for the ones you’ve lost? Bringing on new customers actually costs companies five times more than simply retaining existing customers.

Yet, despite the importance of customer retention, “less than a third of business executives consider it a priority.” (Statistics courtesy of Annex Cloud.)

Examining Customer Loyalty

We all know customer retention is important. We also know most companies are not doing a great job of it. Losing customers out the back door faster than you can bring new ones in the front doesn’t do anyone any good.

We need to retain our customers and, to do that today, it’s more than just satisfaction. We need to do the work to earn their loyalty.

Whose Job Is Customer Loyalty and Retention?

Today, most organizations have separated the jobs – having salespeople look for new business while account managers work with existing accounts to grow them. Some companies also have customer support people assist customers. More recently, companies have started to have customer success departments. With all these people concerned about the customers, we should be able to retain them.

With this in mind, here are my four fundamentals for keeping your best customers.

  1. Wow them at onboarding.
  • Assign someone to onboard new customers.
  • Make sure all the people involved in making the decision are thanked properly.
  • Send them an email introducing everyone at your company they need to know and give them the contact information. Maybe even send a video of your team welcoming them.
  • Oversee the implementation or delivery and be proactive – stay in touch through the process.
  • Assist with user adoption and company-wide rollout – and do whatever is needed to make the customer successful.
  • Keep in touch with all the key players and develop relationships with new players.
  • Be proactive in sharing information that will be helpful.
  • Get others in your company involved and building relationships.
  1. Love them and don’t leave them.  
  • Continue to build relationships with key players.
  • Introduce the others in your organization and help them develop relationships.
  • Add value to your contacts. They are happy to hear from you.
  • Follow them on social media and interact. I love it when people share my posts – and you do too. So will they!
  • Facilitate introductions to position senior executives from your company with theirs.
  • Go on-site with members of your team to meet with their team.
  • Send them a surprise every once in a while – like a great book or a tasty treat. Just don’t do it between Thanksgiving and New Year because it will get buried.
  1. Get repeat business and up-sell.
  • Listen for their needs and find out how you can fill them.
  • Plan ahead with them by asking about future needs and what they anticipate.
  • Share videos with product tips and shortcuts.
  • Share information about new products that will be coming out.
  • Watch for trigger events on social media that will inform a conversation you can have with them.
  • Ask them for testimonials. It reminds them how much they love your solution.
  1. Turn them into a referral source.
  • Earn the right to ask for referrals. Make sure you do the work to earn a proper introduction. (Remember to develop relationships before you sell. Social media is a great help in finding commonalities.)
  • Thank them for the referrals at the time they are given.
  • Let them know the result of the referral. Did you win business? Either way, let them know and thank them again.
  • Continue to ask for referrals at a reasonable pace and give them a referral if possible. You can use LinkedIn to identify who they know that you would like to meet.

A version of this post, “Customers for Life: The Art of Keeping Your Best Clients,” appeared originally on Alice Heiman’s blog.

Alice Heiman is founder and CSO at Alice Heiman, LLC. Alice works with business owners to get consistent and sustainable sales growth – and has been helping companies increase sales for over 20 years. She regularly emcees the Sales 3.0 Conference and is a certified Peak Performance Mindset trainer.

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