Don’t Miss Out: How to Connect with Every Customer

You already know customer retention and word-of-mouth referrals are vital to success in service industries. Yet many companies seem to miss a key principle of these concepts: every single customer has the potential to lead to new business.

You may pride yourself on customer follow-up strategies, but unless you are including every single customer, you could be missing out on potential revenue or even setting yourself up for customer loss. Explore the pitfalls of retention practices that lead to overlooking customers and discover tips for creating a powerful connection with every customer.

Pitfalls of 4 Common Customer Retention Strategies

There are four common customer retention practices that cause companies to miss out on building a relationship with their customers.

• Only following up with high-dollar customers

Some companies limit their potential of repeat and referral business by focusing follow up or showing appreciation only on customers who make a large purchase or sign up for top-tier service. This decision may be part of an effort to save money or time. But you have one chance to exceed customer expectations and make a lasting impression. Your current customer (no matter how much they spend) is your best investment in your future. And besides, most companies follow the 80/20 rule. Only 20% of their customers are high-dollar, top-tier ones. So be sure to reach out to the 80% who spend at a lower level but have just as much marketplace influence. Make sure each and every customer feels engaged and connected enough to send new business your way.

• Surveying a random sample of customers

Many systems for customer surveys are designed to target only a random sample. Asking for feedback in a survey sends the message that you care about your customers’ opinions and want to improve in ways that can benefit them. Surveying every single customer can offer a more thorough picture of your strengths and opportunities for improvement. It also creates a company culture of care and accountability when each team member knows that every customer is surveyed. And if you have better real-time business intelligence than your competitors, you’ll gain a significant advantage in your market. Customer feedback also yields great testimonials and reviews that can be used in your marketing efforts.

• Using service technicians to solicit customer feedback

Here are several reasons why this is not a good idea:
1. When technicians are responsible for requesting feedback, you run the risk of not hearing from frustrated or disappointed customers. Like the rest of us, your employees want to safeguard their reputation and career, and negative feedback can jeopardize that. But this practice skewes the feedback management is receiving, as it’s heavily weighted on happy customers. Management doesn’t have an accurate picture of the customer experience, customer sentiment or team member performance out in the field. The fact is, management needs to know when customers are frustrated, disappointed, or volatile, and then take the appropriate remedial steps.
2. If a customer is disappointed in the technician’s performance, they likely will not be completely honest with the technician in their presence. Customers should complete surveys in a comfortable setting where they are most likely to be 100% transparent.
3. The customer feels pressured to provide feedback on the spot. They might be apt to give you feedback, but perhaps not right at that very second. Sending the customer a private email or text link later, allows them to give feedback on their own terms. And at that moment, they are looking for a solution to their problem. Filling out a survey for your convenience or to create a review for you is not what they are paying you for.

4. Not every good technician is comfortable asking for a survey from the customer. Set your team members up for success in letting them do what you hired them for.

• Responding to complaints, but ignoring the neutral customer

Don’t make the mistake of overlooking customers who feel neutral about your service. They like you enough to remain a paying customer for now, but they could easily be swayed to a competitor if given the right opportunity. Remember, “neutral” is just another word for “at-risk”, “unengaged”, or “apathetic”. When you engage with every single customer and offer them an opportunity to provide feedback, you can move a neutral customer to the fan zone.

If you are employing any of these strategies, consider how you can make changes in your process. Try some of these tips to build relationships with all of your customers.

Tips for Building an Emotional Connection with Every Customer

When following up with customers, remember the goal isn’t just to leave them satisfied with your service, but to build an emotional connection.

• Go beyond automated postcards or simple trinkets

Sending a treat of delicious food, perhaps accompanied by a quality lunch cooler, can create a warm and memorable experience. Food is incredibly personal, relational, and multi-sensory, which makes it the most effective (plus unique) choice for a Thank You gift.

• Surprise them

Gifts are especially meaningful when they are not expected. It’s also a way to set yourself apart from your competitors.

• Connect  quickly

While it may be tempting to send out gifts or surveys in a quarterly batch, it’s better to reach out to a customer within two weeks of a purchase or service trip. If a customer has a complaint or concern, reach out immediately. Today’s technology allows real-time monitoring and alerts of negative feedback in customer surveys.

Get More Expert Tips

Want more tips and customer-retention ideas? Download our guide, Creating a Companywide, Customer-Centric Culture. You’ll learn five steps that are vital to outperforming your competitors in the customer experience.

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