Monday, 27 January 2014

Building customer loyalty and a sustainable business

Customer retention is a core value of any successful business. The age of social media has fundamentally changed the way businesses interact with customers. Enticing new customers with quick deals and effective advertising may lead to short term results, but building customer loyalty requires a long term commitment, and will ultimately make your business more sustainable.

The best customer retention strategies are the ones that create incentives for a customer to recommend your products and services to those in their social networks, which in this age includes not only family and friends, but also Facebook contacts, Twitter followers, LinkedIn acquaintances ... An effective customer retention strategy should not only help you maintain a customer's long term business, but create opportunities to expand your business further through an existing customer's network.

Why you need to retain your customers

Despite the importance of maintaining customer loyalty, often companies overlook customer retention to focus solely on acquiring new customers. In many ways, customer retention is just as important as customer acquisition. Achieving a high level of customer retention is the most resourceful, cost-effective way of doing business. Studies show that acquiring a new customer can cost up to five times more than retaining the business of an existing customer. In some cases, reducing the number of customers leaving a business by a mere 5% can increase the bottom line profits by up to 125%.

It therefore goes without saying that finding ways to build loyalty to your brand is in the best interest of your business. The longer you retain a particular customer, the more likely they are to recommend your products and services to a family, friend or contact through word of mouth or a social media channel. It may take a long time for a business to achieve personal recommendations from their customers, but this remains one of the most effective, organic, and resource-efficient ways of acquiring new customers and decreasing your customer defection rate.

How to build customer loyalty

68% of customers leave a business due to poor customer service. Loyalty is a two way street: customers will stick with a business that is dedicated to providing them with the support that they need. As much as you need their business, customers need your commitment to high product quality and good customer service. They need to know that their money is going towards people who genuinely care.

This is why many companies employ strategies such as loyalty programs and polite and efficient customer service to show their customers that the business is committed to them. In the current business climate of long call centre queues and incompetent service, sometimes a little personal touch or a random act of kindness can very quickly earn you the long term loyalty of your customer base.

Tools for customer retention

A customer wants to be treated like an individual, not just a number in a queue. This is why a strategy that focuses on personalisation, accessibility, and insight can often be effective in helping your business maintain its customers for the long term. Too often, customers become frustrated when a customer service agent they have spent an hour on the phone waiting for does not know the answer to their enquiry, or has not received the proper training. One of the easiest, yet most overlooked ways of increasing customer satisfaction is to provide employees with proper training and the most up-to-date information.

Employees at every level of the business should have access to accurate real-time data. This will help them better service their customers by answering their queries and resolve any issues arising quickly. This in turn frees up their time and their management's time and resources for other matters. The most simple and straightforward way of achieving this is to employ the right software for your information needs.

To invest in customer retention is to invest in the long term sustainability of your business. We can provide you with the right rental software solution to build customer loyalty. Contact us today to discuss the myriad of ways our rental software tools can help you earn and reward your existing customers, while still continuing to grow your business by acquiring new ones.

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