When a cloud of economic slowdown looks over your business or industry, what are you prepared to do to retain customers? Less informed executives often hold tight for a wild ride without taking any clear action, when there is something you can do. You can improve customer retention in a tight economy by improving sale flow, focusing on your best customers, and enhancing your ability to serve their needs.
Here are a series of strategies you can put into action today:
Reconnect with every past customer and current account. Make sure you are serving each customers needs, as well as adequately address new desires. Demonstrate you really understand their business by bringing specific solutions to the table.
Get deeper entrenched with the buyers you already have. This does not mean lock them in with proprietary product, but become indispensable to them through value. Be familiar with multiple decision makers at each customer location, this helps keep the account open even if key players change jobs.
Reduce what you do before discounting your price. Many companies are tempted to make a sale at any cost. Have a clear plan for profits on every transaction, if you have to discount prices, reduce the amount of services you provide.
Be selective about the customers who get an investment of your time. Focus on your most profitable customers by volume, frequency, and ability to pay. If this means losing a few deadbeat accounts to allow time to spend with key customers then by all means.
Help customers buy more from you. Know the total spent in each area of products you provide, compare this with what they buy from you. Often you will find they spend only a small percentage of what they could with your business, give them a good reason to buy more from you.
Have a clear understanding of your customers' current wants. Know exactly what they need now. In a tight marketplace, they could have different priorities than at other times. Orient your focus to solving problems to which they have an immediate need.
Improve job skills of those closest to the money. Utilize internal or low cost training to increase individual proficiency as it improves the customers experience or your company's ability to produce income. Start with customer service skills, and then work up through "how" to improve individual job performance. Not only will this help you keep customers, but you increase your company's overall value.
Work with strategic partners to improve your value to the customer. Improve your customer relationship by bringing high quality providers to your customers, as they would help reduce costs, or improve the customer performance with your product. Introduce specialized skills with specific solutions.
Accelerate the collection of accounts receivable. Your business will need more cash to serve existing customers, and it does not matter how much income you produce if you are not collecting it. Do more cash business, and look for ways to be paid faster.
During tight markets, customers are going to be concerned about price, enticing offers from your competition, and will judge your business by its perceived stability. It is critical you stand strong and stay in front of customers by solving real problems. You will retain accounts when you are proactive instead of reactionary in light of the economic landscape.
Often your customers are just as concerned as you are about a tight marketplace. The best test of your relationship is adversity, and how you handle it. Improving sales flow, focusing on your best customers, and enhancing your ability to serve customers needs demonstrates strength. How will you use that strength to retain (and grow) your customers?