How To Design Communications That Keep Profitable Customers

By Justin Hitt, Strategic Relations Consultant,

Are you tired of the slow exodus of valuable customers leaving for competitors each year? You pour thousands of dollars in market research, marketing materials, and some even respond, but still they leave for someone else.

The problem isn't reaching these desirable customers; it's the effectiveness of your communications. For communications that improve customer retention, you need specific strategies that influence behavior. How exactly do you design these communications so that more customers stay than leave?

You can design your communications to improve customer retention by providing a relevant message that starts a conversation your most profitable customers.

Involving customers in a conversation about problems they experience and solutions they desire is one of the best ways to have more responsive, loyal, and attentive buyers. Here are several strategies to design your communications to retain more customers that are profitable.

  1. Less broadcasting and more dialogs at the level of profitable customers. Broadcast messages are fine when seeking a large audience of qualified prospects, but once a customer has invested in your solution, it's more effective to continue with meaningful dialog around their interests. How often do you talk with customers about their individual situations? Find out what makes their situation so unique and discover how you can keep them buying.
  2. Ask questions that identify wants and confirm benefits. The more you know your customers, and the more they understand the value of business they've already done with you, the greater their loyalty. By asking questions, you keep customers thinking about your business in the context of their concerns. What questions would reveal what customers really want to purchase?
  3. Invest more face-to-face time with higher profit margin clients. If you're not physically seeing your most profitable customers at least once a year, you could be missing huge opportunities to improve your value to them. When you get out there to see how your customers use your solutions and in what conditions, you'll gain a better understanding of their desires. Do you know what your customer looks like?
  4. Bring customers together in small groups. When you can't go to them individuals, bring customers together in groups to discuss what they like about your solutions. These groups should help attendees get more from what you offer, expand the value in what they already own, and share tested methods. How could bringing customers together in a way that expanded the value of their business relationship with you?
  5. Let customers know their business is sincerely appreciated. Say "Thank You" at least twice as much this year as last -- the fact is that every dollar gained over cost is feeding your family, these dollars come from customers, and you should respect that in all levels of your company. Because people what to be appreciated your sincere message contributes to a customers decision to continue to do business with you. Do your employees understand how important customers really are to your business?
  6. Use research about customer concerns and interests. Become an advocate for the concerns and interests of your customers to discover new opportunities to improve how you serve them. Use what you learn in every message you share across your company. What concerns do customers have that you could easily resolve?
  7. Make a study of your clients business. The more your team knows about how customers really operate the better you can blend your solution with their objectives. Becoming an expert in your clients business helps you discover new ways to serve them better. What do you know about clients businesses that they should know about themselves?
  8. Engage for feedback. The more you know about what customers think about your solutions, the better you can improve what you offer. Are you collecting feedback at each customer interaction point? Key areas to understand: what influenced them to purchase, what they like about the solution, how they use the solution, and what else could the solution do for them.
  9. Solicit and share customer testimonials. In every marketing or sales message, it's critical to echo real customer testimonials. These brief but specific messages tells customers that others just like them have something important to say about your solution, important enough they would put their full name and company behind it. How are you currently using customer testimonials?
  10. Refer new business to these best customers. If you want to keep customers while increasing the demand for your solutions, then grow your customers with a passion. How are you helping customers grow and generate new business? By sending new business to your customers, you'll lock them into your business for years to come.
  11. Specialize around clusters and subgroups within your profitable customer base. This advanced technique secures specific market shares within your customer base by becoming the best in a few areas. These profitable verticals allow the development of specialized tools and solutions that make you the only logical provider within your market place. Are there niches inside of your customer base that are more profitable to serve than others would?
  12. Share tools that help customers get more from what you offer. Nothing builds loyalty like after sales details that extend the value of existing purchases. Imagine a customer satisfied with their purchase, now receiving additional information that extends the life of their investment, and keeps them returning to your company. Are your customers fully aware of the techniques necessary to get the most from your solutions?
  13. Help customers buy everything that is in their best interest to own. Use a product/service matrix to fill the windows of opportunity according to historical purchases of related customers. This strategy can help unprofitable customers look more like profitable customers while improving the results they gain from your solutions. Are your customers buying everything they should to get the most from a relationship with your business?
  14. Research other ways to serve customers. Look for the unfulfilled desires of customers using a combination of acquired feedback, researching the customers market, and direct dialog. If you can't directly provide these solutions, then use inner circle relationships to draw new resources to your customers in a way that extends your value. How else can you serve the customers you already have?
  15. Help clients feel like insiders with special tools only available to them. Reward clients for their decision to do business with you over anyone else by providing tools that can't be obtained anywhere else. These tools help them get more from your solutions, provide additional insights about their situation, and help customers make better decisions. What unique value do customers get doing business with you over anyone else?

No matter what you do, your most profitable customers must have such a strong feeling of belonging that would have withdrawing from business with anyone else. One way of doing this is through clear communications that convey your interest in a strong customer relationship.

© 2005 JWH Consolidated LLC dba Center for Strategic Relations, All rights reserved.
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Justin Hitt, consultant and author of "Cultivating Your Best Customers, Part I of II: How to Get more Profits by Cultivating Your Best Customers" available online at

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