Many companies understand the importance of customer retention, but they also are reticent to use call center services in order to maintain contact with them. They are under the impression that telemarketing doesn’t work because customers don’t like telemarketers. As mentioned in previous blog entries, telemarketing as a tool isn’t flawed; rather, it’s the people who exploit the system who create the lack of trust on the part of the consumer. Regardless, companies feel that email is much more reliable means of staying in touch with their customer base, but there are a lot of reasons why this is simply not a good idea.
- It’s Impersonal – Emails are a one-way form of communication. You are conveying a message to the consumer, but you aren’t listening to them. You can’t personalize the experience in any way because you don’t know them as a person. Sure, you can create an algorithm that will put the person’s name at the top of the message, but people can see right through that. There’s no person on the other end, and that creates an emotional distance that doesn’t succeed for your business.
- It’s Too Easy to Delete – Many email servers are getting very savvy at interpreting message content. Not only is spam filtered out, but messages can often be divided according to the type of message it is. Even if your email ends up in the consumer’s inbox, there’s no guarantee whether it’s read or not. You have no idea who’s responding to your message or to what degree.
- There’s No Middle Ground – On a phone call, even if you can’t get the customer back on board, you may receive valuable feedback that help you to improve the product or services at your company. People don’t respond to emails by saying, “I’m not interested, but let me tell you why.” They simply send the message to the trash folder.
Two Companies Show Why Customer Retention is so Important
There’s a housecleaning company called Homejoy that facilitates on-demand cleaning services by matching cleaners to customers. There’s a flash sale site called Fab.com that sells design-fueled knickknacks and furniture. What could these two seemingly disparate companies have in common? They both devalued the importance of customer retention in favor of attracting only new customers, and as a result, they both paid the price in their bottom lines.
To Catch a Falling Star
Both of these companies were extremely bright stars in their respective industries for a time. Nevertheless, in spite of raising 38 million dollars, Homejoy had to close its doors. Likewise, Fab.com is still in operation, but it was sold for 15 million after being valued at nearly 1 billion dollars. Both were successful companies in successful industries who seemed to be going the right direction, but they just couldn’t hang onto their customer base.
What Went Wrong
Now, there were other factors at play, of course. Overexpansion and lawsuits were a problem, but they weren’t the driving force in their demise. No, the real nail in the coffin was a lack of customer loyalty. Both companies clearly wished to grow as fast as possible, so they tried to grab business at any opportunity offering deals and discounts. In the case of Fab.com, they saw the numbers soar after a month, so they began to expand; however, those early customers didn’t stick around, resulting in massive losses in the long run. Both companies were able to show growth for a time, and many businesses are far too concerned with these specific numbers, failing to realize that growth alone is not a recipe for success.
The key to a sustainable business is loyal and repeat customers. If you fail to realize that, your company will fail in short order.
Four Strategies for Customer Retention
There are a lot of ways to retain customers. Unitel offers one of the most productive solutions with direct call marketing that makes a definitive connection with inactive customers. We primarily focus on customers who have not come back to your company after a length of time; however, there are things you can do to keep your customers from becoming inactive in the first place. These are just four of the most common.
- Offer Loyalty Programs – Create an incentive for your customer to come back to your company. Give an offer that is only available to customers who come back again and again. Why do supermarkets all have those discount cards? It’s to provide an incentive for the customer to come back to that store and not a competitor.
- Follow up with Them – While emails and social media are ineffective in bringing back inactive customers, they can help keep the active ones on board. Use these basic forms of communication to keep your company in their minds while the fire is still hot.
- Get Feedback and Listen to It – There are a number of ways to receive feedback from customers. Whether it’s through email, questionnaires, calls, or websites, the important thing is that you take the feedback seriously. That doesn’t mean that you have to agree with everything a customer says (some people will never be happy, after all), but you should consider it carefully. Was their good experience indicative of your usual business practices? Was their bad experience a fluke, or does it indicate a larger systemic problem?
- Target and Engage – Know your target audience. Who wants your product? Where are they? What do those people want? The best way to find out this information is through open communication and engaging with your customers. Keep the conversation flowing so that you can make your business the best that it can be.
It All Comes Down to Respect
What makes Unitel different from other telemarketing companies? After all, telemarketers are common enough, and people don’t seem to like them. How is Unitel different? The answer to that question is simple: respect. Aretha Franklin knew its importance back in the sixties, and it’s critical in business communication as well. Our call center marketers are different because we treat both you and your inactive customers with respect.
For the Client
One of the reasons that companies come to Unitel in order to contact their inactive customers is because we take our connection to your business seriously. Many other telemarketing companies will have people call on your behalf when they know very little about your products. Our concierge consultants respect what you do, so they are well-versed in your services and full-informed about the products that they’ll want to talk about. That way, customers can ask questions, and there’s a reliable, intelligent individual who can answer.
For the Consumer
Respecting the needs and desires of the consumer is one of things that makes us so successful in our interactions. On the phone, it’s very apparent when the person on the other end of the line doesn’t respect you. Everyone has had that telemarketing call where the caller gives a long speech without any pauses, which forces the customer to listen impatiently until he or she can say, “Sorry, not interested.” Some people will even follow the long speech with a leading question like, “Which of our products would you like to buy?” These tactics reek of deceit, and the implicit message is, “We don’t trust your judgment, so we’ll trick you into listening.” That’s not how you develop an effective relationship, and it’s a big reason why most telemarketing firms fail. Unitel knows that respect carries the day, and our results show just how effective that strategy can be.
The Seriousness of Retaining Customers in the Modern Era
With the growth of the digital age, companies have had to adapt to new marketing challenges. In the next several years, the kids who grew up with this technology are going to be adults making choices as consumers. They’re used to having a global economy at their fingertips. In this age when anything can be ordered online, how can you ensure a consistent stream of customers? The answer is actually the same as it has always been. It’s just more important than ever. Customer retention is becoming the business model for the future.
The More Things Change
Imagine standing in a room with 100,000 people in it. You’re trying to get 50 people to follow you out the door, but there are 100 other people trying to do the same thing. You might scream at the top of your lungs, but with that many people around, who’s going to pay attention to you? Now imagine that you have 50 people already following you. You just have to keep them from drifting away and following someone else. Sounds much easier doesn’t it? That’s because you know exactly who you’re talking to, so you can target your message. In this analogy, the internet is the giant room filled with people. You may not be able to get new customers very easily, but you can certainly target a message to those who are already coming to you.
The More They Stay the Same
Retention has always been valuable to a company. Research shows that 80% of a company’s revenue comes from just 20% of its customer base. Those are the returning customers, so they’re incredibly important. In a digital world, that ratio is going to become even more skewed in their direction. By focusing on customer retention, you will ensure that your company can thrive in the digital age and beyond.