Businesses always try to woo customers with impeccable customer service during the buying cycle -- be it early, mid or late. But what happens after all your efforts pay off and the customer buys from you? What happens after the payment clears, and you’ve sent the invoice? Most companies put their focus back on new customer acquisition and do whatever it takes to win them over and get the deal done over and over again. The cycle continues in pretty much the same fashion, until the old customers come back to do more business. But the question is: Will they come back? The answer is simple: not unless you give them reasons to do so.
I’m not saying that you don’t need new customers. Every business needs them; it’s virtually impossible to grow without making new customers. But to ignore an existing source of revenue that’s right under your nose is just bad business sense. For many companies, the total customer lifecycle is about the buyer’s experience from the beginning to the end. What comes after is often left out. This is a huge mistake. When you think of it from a customer’s standpoint, it’s not hard to understand why.
Despite the fact that customer acquisition is six times the cost of retention, a new report concludes that more than eight out of 10 companies tie their business objectives to customer acquisition but less than half give importance to retention. In a world where terms like “Yelp economy” are sometimes used to highlight the fact that companies are being watched and discussed by clients, both past and present, it’s becoming increasingly important for businesses to spend a little more effort post-sale or in between sales.
Customer becomes the fifth 'P' of marketing
In the past, consumer decisions were influenced by carefully crafted marketing messages. But in the age of customer empowerment, this is no longer the case. Today the power has shifted from businesses and service providers to the consumer.
With unlimited options opening up for the consumer, we all know how difficult it is to get a slice of their attention. When you’ve spent so much time, effort and money to earn the trust of your customers, it only makes sense to nurture the relationship to the point of turning them into brand loyalists. To do so, you have to pay more attention to the customers that aren’t currently buying anything but are likely to buy again in the future.
Related: A 4-Step Plan for Customer Follow Up
Real customer service is what you do between sales
Every business tries to please customers when they are in the process of buying something. But how much you really care about them depends on the experience you provide post-sales, before they come back for more. Here are some ways to deliver a great experience between sales.
Don't let them fall off your radar: Just because an existing customer is not buying from you, doesn’t mean you put them on the sideline. It pays to show up from time to time, perhaps to get their feedback on the last purchase or see if there’s anything you could do to enhance their experience. Your customers may not be aware of new products or services you’ve launched. Offering a new product at a discounted rate to an existing customer is not only a great way to make them feel valued but a great way to gauge the possible market reaction from their feedback.
Respond to them even when they aren’t really doing business with you: With more customers becoming Internet and social-media savvy, it’s critical to respond to questions, criticisms and positive feedback as promptly as you would when interacting with a ripe, new business lead. Also, sending out personalized thank-you emails, offers and coupon codes to your past customers is a great way to make them feel remembered, happy and appreciated.
Make them feel you’re there to help without trying to sell them anything: While upselling is great, taking care of service needs that don’t necessarily lead to generating revenue is the sign of a brand that genuinely cares about its customers. When customers get your continued support without feeling the pressure to buy, they naturally want to share this good experience with others they know, through word-of-mouth marketing or on social media, turning them into advocates for your brand.
Making customers a priority is a necessity in the current business climate and providing a great experience between sales is a positive step in that direction.