Whether B2B or B2C customers are bombarded with offers all the time. According to research from the Peppers and Rogers Group, price, quality of service are not the driving factors that engage your customer, but:
- 60% of all customers stop dealing with a company and switched suppliers because they perceive as indifference on the part of salespeople and felt unappreciated.
- 80% of defecting customers describe themselves as “satisfied” or “very satisfied” just before they leave.
- According to Zendesk, 82% of people have stopped doing business with a company because of bad customer service.
In the customers buying process, customers rely on their emotional experiences more than any of the traditional factors, says Peppers & Rogers.
I work from home, and like most people experiencing the COVID19 lockdown, if I have an internet connection problem, I cannot go and work elsewhere.
My broadband supplier, EE, offered me a new deal at the contract anniversary. Like any good buyer, I shopped around for the best deals and asked the current supplier to improve on their offer. They could not match it, the service operator stating that “I am only authorised to go to this level,” the answer was indifferent and not personalised to my needs.
The new supplier offered faster speeds with more TV channels (not that I would watch them) I signed up (very reluctantly) with another company, Virgin Media. My experience with EE for over seven years has been consistently good; I like that they have UK and Ireland customer service and so I would be classed as a satisfied customer! There is always a resistance to change from what you know; what if the new supplier delivers less than equal service?
The next day, I informed EE, they had already received the change notice from the new supplier, and miraculously they bet the Virgin Media deal. I did not go for it because of the hassle factor of changing back, and I was very annoyed that they had not offered me this deal when I had given them a chance. They could have saved me time and effort signing up with Virgin Media.
When I asked EE why I was not offered this deal in the first place the answer was, “all companies do it, there is a limit that the first operator can offer, but at this stage, we are trying to keep you as a client.”
My decision to leave the EE was not based on price; they did not need to beat the price but come close. It was about wasting my time, I had already agonised over making the decision, and I was not going to spend more time unravelling it.
Although the service operator was honest that – all companies do it, I want and expect more from my suppliers. Suppliers that do what everyone else does is a low and undifferentiated benchmark. Internet connection is essential for my business and critical in this time of lockdown.
Three-Step Process to Stop Your Customers Cancelling
You need to combat the reasons for cancelling and employ the right customer retention strategies throughout the customer life journey.
The tactics below are simple but effective.
- My notification (at one month) of contract end and offer; the email was functional, but at that stage, EE could have:
- Reminded me of how long we have been together,
- Say they appreciated me and
- As a valued customer that will offer xx to retain custom.
The point is to make it feel personalised.
- Before this (two months) the supplier could have sent me, an email reminding me that they have:
- UK and Ireland service centres.
- Experienced increased demand due to COVID19; however, satisfaction levels maintain at XX.
- Committed to looking after their workers, supporting colleagues and either family.
- Raised X funds to support charities XYZ.
This would increase my emotional attachment and loyalty to this supplier.
- If (three months) prior, the supplier had sent a small gift to show they care about their customers, and they are grateful for their custom.
We all love surprises and being part of a community; this is why loyalty programmes work well are useful engagement tools. A loyalty programme that gave customers the choice of what charity 0.5% of their invoice is donated to. When was the last time you surprised your customers with new free features, upgrades, or random rewards, even a personal thank you card?
Your retention does not have to be complicated or expensive, but it does need to be well thought through and customised to your customers, buyers, or segmented group preferences.
The problem is that retention functions try to retain the customer way too late in the customers’ journey. If you do not have a retention strategy or programme that nurtures your customer throughout the life of their journey; that’s before the anniversary rather than at the contract renewal; then you are losing more customer that you could retain.
Customer experience continues to become a significant part of the buying cycle. Therefore, businesses need to think of all the critical elements that go into making the customer experience, so good renewal and retention become a non-issue. How fast do you resolve customer issues, anticipate their needs, and personalise your offers? How you treat your customers and buyers during the and at the post-purchase stages of the customer journey, is a huge competitive differentiator.
5 Stage Journey to Improve the Buying Experience and Retention Rates
- Pre-purchase – how can engender – know, like and trust.
- Purchase – educate and make it easy to purchase.
- Post-purchase – engender loyalty and enhance customer experience post-purchase.
- Anniversary – build loyalty and get feedback to improve the customer experience.
- Lifetime customer – upsell and cross-sell – they are reasons they are still with you make you know what it is and ensure you continuously improve and leverage it.
Although you will not be able to keep 100% of your customers, as some will fall off due to reasons beyond your control, needs and requirements will change. However, you can dramatically increase customer retention and customer lifetime value if you pre-plan retention strategies through the life of the relationship and not just when it is ending.