Marketing Bootcamp

5 Proven Ways to Create Long-Lasting Customer Relationships

Everyone knows customer relationships affect the success of your business, but few understand how impactful loyalty is. One study reported that 89 percent of consumers have stopped doing business with a company after experiencing poor customer service.

Bain & Co, meanwhile, reports that a customer is four times more likely to buy from a competitor if the problem is service related, rather than price or product related. Competition is fierce, and your customers may not remain customers long if you don’t take active steps to build your acquisition efforts and secure their loyalty.

Related: 5 Tips on Building an Epic Customer-Support Team

To show you how to maintain a devoted customer base, here are five tips and insights from Guy Nirpaz, CEO of customer success platform Totango.

1. Engage with your customers -- but at the right time.

According to a recent study conducted by Totango, 81 percent of customers are willing to pay for a high-quality customer experience. This shows that experience matters as much as the product itself. With proactive, well-timed engagement with customers, you can make sure they are getting all the support they need before they even ask.

Take Sidekick by HubSpot. One week after you create an account, the company follows up with an automated email customized to reflect your last interaction with the product. For example, if you’ve signed up with Sidekick but haven’t engaged with it heavily yet, the follow-up note provides tips on how to use the two most fundamental features.

If you have already mastered the basics, the email clues you in on CRM integration. This kind of feature indicates understanding that users need well timed, personalized interaction.

2. Understand what value you provide to customers, and maintain it.

Customer interactions are too often treated as one-off instances. But if you want to succeed, it is crucial to understand the customer experience as a journey with a long string of interactions, continually building loyalty.

Trader Joe’s is famous for valuing their customers by continually imagining new ways to make the shopping experience easy and enjoyable. Market researchers agree that Trader Joe’s strategy of rapid checkout lines, well-curated product selection, deals on items we all love such as wine, and an array of sample foods keep customers coming back.

3. Monitor customer behavior every day.

If you want to keep customers on board long term, you must understand how customers are engaging with your product throughout their journey with it. Best-in-class companies understand that historical snapshots of customers no longer cut it. Instead, to make their actions actually matter, they are using sensor-based capabilities to collect real-time feedback, which they act on immediately.

On the verge of its IPO, file-sharing company Box has mastered the art of predictive analytics to ensure customers are using the platform properly. Through its various monitoring systems, Box learned that their system of evaluating the number of customer users then projecting a price for that company was not working efficiently.

Related: Are You Really Listening to Your Customers?

Through real-time feedback, the Box product team realized more customers wanted to consume Box “on more of a usage basis.” This product adjustment would not have been possible had its team not been closely monitored what customers wanted in real time.

4. Prioritize customers by knowing who needs your immediate attention.

Rapidly growing grocery-delivery service Instacart knows how to draw customers in -- and keep them. It sends well-timed text messages and emails, updating users on the status of their delivery. After users receive their groceries, Instacart asks you to rate your experience between 1 and 5. Instacart follows up with a personalized email to every user who gives below a “5” and responds within 10 minutes to any concerns.

One recent study claimed 42 percent of consumers complaining on social media expect a response within 60 minutes. When you are managing multiple accounts, you need to know which customers need your attention so you can distribute your time and resources efficiently.

Every customer success team should have a system that evaluates both self-reported feedback and contextual customer actions to create a prioritized list of customers who require follow up. Ultimately, that list will include the users who are at risk and need your help as well as those who are most engaged and ready to get to the next level.

5. Don't limit yourself to large corporations.

McKinsey reports that 70 percent of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated. This means that investing in lower revenue accounts can be valuable: a customer’s value grows based on their experience.

Today’s winning companies serve a wide range of customers, from small and mid-size businesses to large enterprises, and cannot afford to view customer success through the traditional low- and high-touch account-management lens. Make sure you are monitoring all accounts -- not just high powered ones -- to ensure 100 percent of your user base is successful, engaged and receiving the attention they need.

A customer's decision to remain loyal to your company or move on to a competitor often hinges on the level of support they receive. Data from Totango shows that 90 percent of churn is preceded by poor product usage. By focusing on all of your customers -- not just a select group -- you can ensure every user has the tools needed to take full advantage of all product features. 

Related: Spare Me Your Platitudes. Customers Are Tired of Insincere Support.