Go to Google News and search on “business retention.” When I did this recently, there were 102 items of business news for the last week alone, and they are from close to 100 different locations.
Why is this term becoming so ubiquitous (never used that word in a blog post before…very exciting!)? “Business retention” programs are proliferating, and it’s because communities are realizing the value of a company and its jobs and its fees and its taxes and its construction projects and the salaries it pays. Communities are realizing the value of a customer, and their customer is a business.
When the economy tanks (as it did around 2008 and earlier this century as well), businesses in general start talking a lot more about customer service and customer retention. Whereas it’s sexy to talk about new sales, new clients, and new businesses coming to town, all of that “new” stuff is an addition to what already exists – your current customers.
What we tell our economic development clients is the same thing I’d tell most any other business – don’t limit your retention strategy to “delivering great customer service” or to “having lots of face-to-face meetings with your customers.”
Your strategy needs to be based on data, facts, intelligence – some of which you acquire by asking your customers questions, and some of which you acquire by conducting ongoing research on your clients (via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google News, MarketWatch, etc.). Your strategy needs to involve a mix of pre-planned Touch Points that occur throughout the year to pull information from customers via surveys/research/meetings/calls/e-mails or push information of value to them or marketing information for them. But the Touch Points also have to include those (as we say with our healthcare customers) PRN touches – those provided as needed based on that intelligence we just noted.
When you think about how to retain your customers (whether that customer is a business or an individual), you still need to deliver great customer service. But also develop strategies to gather intelligence, and provide strategic Touch Points to develop relationships that grow with your existing customers.
Read our New Book – “Ask Yourself…Am I GREAT at Customer Service?” http://www.amigreatat.com/
Listen to our 2012 Customer Service Trends podcast episode of “Stepping Up Service” on The MESH Network at http://themesh.tv/stepping-up-service/2012/1/12/stepping-up-service-6-customer-service-trends-for-2012.html
Interested in improving your company’s customer service? See more at our new website! http://www.cssamerica.com/