It's common sense that it's better and cheaper to keep a customer rather than recruiting a new customer. According to the Harvard Business Review, the cost delta ranges from five-to-25 times variance between a repeat customer versus acquiring a newbie.
That's a staggering number for any business owner to consider because it conveys a compelling bottom line value of keeping your clients. The table stakes for customer retention are straight forward. Offer great products or services that people want; provide fair pricing; impactful promotion; competitive positioning - yadda, yadda.
However, the real differentiator to secure repeat customer business is consistently delivering superior customer service. While that seems obvious, reality proves it to be a rarity.
All of us have experienced the frustration dealing with overseas call centers, poorly-trained customer support, aggravating automated telephone responses and circular navigation on "customer help" web pages. To reduce costs, it seems that businesses prefer to commoditize customer service rather than use it as a competitive advantage.
Here are three common sense keys of superior customer service that can drive repeat business.
Whether your business is a single person start-up or multi-national corporation, you need to be grateful for your customers --- and let them know it. Every consumer touch point needs to reinforce how highly valued they are and how much you appreciate their continued trust in your business.
Manners matter and when customers call they're usually not happy.
Give them the chance to vent frustration in a supportive manner by providing customers with real people who are well-trained and intimately acquainted with the products or services you're selling so they can relate and empathize with the customer. Automating every customer engagement channel is rude because it conveys to the customer that they don't matter or you don't care.
Empower each of your service ambassadors with the ability to resolve any customer issue without transferring them to another department. It may sound corny but teach your people to cherish the customer. Treat your clients the way you want to be treated or how you'd like someone you love to be treated.
Basically, let a spirit of graciousness drive the policies and processes you put in place for all customer interactions, and your business will shine like a beacon across the vast darkness of interactive voice response systems.
Be generous with everything customer facing. Be generous regarding your return policy, expired coupons or promotions, empathy, patience, smiles -- everything. Operate from a posture of striving to give customers the best experience possible rather than taking them out of the complaint queue as quickly as possible.
Your customers are simply not used to receiving generous behaviors when buying products or services so your brand with standout.
Each of these keys are soft skills that are more akin to a Zen master than a master merchant, but that's the point. While technology is great and has its place, it seems to be stripping a lot of the humanity out of business engagement.
Maybe business could use a healthy margin of personal interaction at the expense of some profit margin. Try it. Your customers will likely come back for more.