From the Center for Strategic Relations, a twice-monthly supplement to Applying Strategic Relations, mailed at your request

Customer Retention Techniques

Before sales and marketing can improve their contributions to keeping customers, you learned how to measure marketing return on investment across interaction points. The last lesson showed you how to do just that.

Many loyal readers have noticed a progression from communications, to measurement, and then to individual responsibility. How are you putting these lessons to work in your organization?

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Justin Hitt
Consultant, Author & Speaker

Advice To Executives Whose Sales And Marketing Teams Don't Retain Customers

By Justin Hitt, Strategic Relations Consultant,

Imagine those most responsible for attracting customers doing things to keep customers returning purchase-after-purchase without being threatened, cowed, or otherwise influenced. Wouldn't your company be stronger for their efforts?

Who should be responsible for customer retention? Everyone, but that's beyond the scope of this article, so let's focus on the responsibility of sales and marketing.

Your sales and marketing teams have the most flexibility when inviting customers to return to purchase again. Supported by quality solution, good service, and reasonable value, their communications keep reminding customers you exist.

Here are several strategies to help them regulate their customer retention efforts:

  1. Use retention to measure individual performance. Sales and marketing isn't about one-night-stands, it's about building long-term buying relationships. Go as far as tying retention to group compensation.
  2. Help individuals understand the value of a customer. It's less costly to keep the customers that you have than get new ones. Everyone in sales and marketing should be well aware of profit per customer, cost per lead, and customer lifetime value.
  3. Clearly define what retention is. Customer retention doesn't just happen when customers don't buy from someone else; it is that they repeatedly buy from you. Each new purchase is proof of their confidence in your organization.
  4. Use multiple factors to measure customer retention. Since customer retention is more than a factor of duration, consider other points that clearly identify those customers who are staying with your organization. Build these measures into your sales and marketing processes.
  5. Improve skills at interaction points. Use the Product Series and Product Matrix models to help customers get all they need each time they interact with your organization. Make every experience better than the last; teach employees how to look out for the customer's best interest while being profitable.
  6. Provide positive reinforcement for retention efforts. Reward staff for overcoming customer challenges, concerns, and problems; these things that keep customers coming back. Encourage employees to be flexible in their thinking.
  7. Support with necessary tools and skills. If you expect customer retention to be a self-regulated measure, then give sales and marketing tools to measure their own retention performance. Also, invest in training on how to build business relationships.

Sales and marketing teams have the most opportunity to influence customers in a manner that promotes customer retention. These simple modifications to sales and marketing efficiency keep revenues growing with repeat customer purchases.

When it comes to customer retention, what are you doing to make "retention" a part of the way you do business?

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