Many marketing articles, blogs, apps, other tech-related devices talk “customer retention” but are really talking their true love – “marketing.” They talk about how “marketing drives higher retention” and how relationship development is really “drip marketing.”
I’m not going to debate retention v. marketing because many people think only about sales and marketing, they don’t think in terms of customer service and developing relationships for the long-term.
So for any marketers out there, here’s some customer retention advice on mindset, strategies, key questions from the marketing perspective:
- When considering retention, think of your customer as an individual person – not a group. Communicate with them as an individual, not as a market segment. If you’ve ever had a company for whom you’ve been a long-term customer market to you like you’re a prospect, that company abdicated their relationship with you for the ease of pushing products.
- When developing strategies, focus on the concept of what you need to do to still have this customer in 1-2 years. In other words, what would you need to do – and when would you stage those actions – over the next 1-2 years? Companies who think short-term, often come across as doing things in their best interest, not in terms of what’s best for the customer.
- When communicating with them, first know how they want you to communicate with them (not how you want to communicate with them). I’ve oftentimes received multiple sales telephone calls and just let the machine pickup, never to return their call. However, if they would have e-mailed me in a personal way, I’ll always respond, even if not interested at that time.
- Communicate with them in their preferred frequency of communication. Some people will opt-out of e-mail campaigns coming at them 3-5 times per week (especially since they’re typically just sell-related), but they won’t opt-out if it’s once every 1-2 weeks and/or if there’s a mix of sales and more educational communications.
- View a customer as a supplier of information to you – the information you need to retain and sell them. Don’t think “push” first; think “pull” first – spend more of your research strategy in getting to know them, asking questions and pulling information from them (especially at the start of the relationship) than pushing offers to them.
- Base your decisions on their personal retention drivers; base your strategies on them as individuals. If you know why one customer will stay with you, address it. We conducted research for a client that noted that first-time customers who are likely to renew annual contracts are actually interested in upsell opportunities, but a high percentage of first-time customers are not likely to renew. You can’t do much with that general information, but since we knew which customers had which inclinations, we could recommend to whom to market and to whom to take a service recovery/retention approach.
If you’re a marketer, customer retention is for you – just know through what lens to look to create your marketing strategies.
Did you like this post? Here are other Retention-related posts:
Big data? Let’s start with Smart Data.
Pro sports organizations feel they know their fans well, and then they conduct their own fan surveys and are frustrated by the lack of useful information. The results are usually broad brushstrokes of fans – general ratings and likes/dislikes. However, research done the right way creates a 1-to-1 view of specific Season Ticket Holders (STHs). Consider the following 3 profiles of specific fans (we changed their names below) that came out of a research project we conducted for a pro sports club:
- Fred Smith will definitely renew for next year. In fact, he’s considering adding seats and is likely to want to upgrade his seats. He’s a STH because he loves basketball and the perks associated with being a STH (particularly ticket exchange and the post-game shoot-arounds), but he’s dissatisfied with the direction of the team. He doesn’t know who to contact if he has ticket issues, and he doesn’t know the name of his account representative. Fred’s married, has a doctorate, and usually attends with a business associate or with his wife.
- Janie Watson is a brand new STH, in her first season with the club. Janie’s uncertain whether she’ll renew her tickets, and although she loves the events, she doesn’t like her seats. She’s 32 years old, single, and loves the relationship with her account representative. She prefers to be contacted via e-mail, and – even though Janie loves her account representative – what’s most important to her is the game itself, getting in/out of parking quickly, her seat location, and getting ticketing needs/issues resolved quickly.
- Bob Jefferson is somewhat unlikely to renew. He’s been a STH for 7 years, and he has the tickets for family entertainment. He’s become disillusioned the past few years because the ownership preaches family values, but several players and some of the game day staff don’t convey those values. Bob wants more opportunities for kids to interact with players, and he’s particularly dissatisfied with the relationship with his account representative, the attitudes of Security, and the game entertainment. Bob noted that he’d like to talk with someone about his issues with the team.
What would you be able to do with this information for these 3 STHs? The answer should be obvious. You know who to contact about what; you know what SPECIFICS to discuss with each. You know HOW to contact them, and you know whether you’re in sales mode or service recovery/retention-mode.
When you look to do fan research, begin with the end in mind. Structure STH research to tell you the level of information you need to nurture and grow relationships – on a 1-to-1 basis.
Did you like this post? Here are other Sports-related posts:
Many years ago I was consulting with a client in the financial services industry. This credit card provider would send out literally 2-4 million marketing pieces at a time with the hopes of getting a fraction – under 3% – to respond. The client would then initiate a sales process with that 1-3% and hope to close a certain percentage of those. While I was helping them on the operational aspect of one area charged with this process, I couldn’t help to be awed by the waste…and the fact that they were using generic marketing messages on existing customers.
A customer is not a prospect, but this client was treating them like one.
In the world that we prefer to work in today – that of customer service, the patient experience, season ticket holder retention, and account growth – you view retention and growth as 1-on-1. You view it as me (the employee) knowing you (the customer) so personally, so specifically that I know how you prefer that I communicate with you. I know whether you’re thinking of staying or leaving for a competitor. I know whether you’re likely to be a good candidate for cross-sell/upsell, and I know the best way to do that. I know whether it’s okay to ask for a referral. And when you form your opinion of my organization, I know what are those main opinion-drivers.
Being successful in the customer service, client experience, customer retention world requires that you never start thinking of a client as a prospect. Once you do that, you give up the competitive advantage of having a deeper, more personal relationship with that client.
Don’t turn your clients into prospects.
Did you like this post? Here are other Retention-related posts: