Now that you have some customers, how do you keep them? The trick here is to make them feel it is extremely easy to do business with you and that the cost to change is not worth it. What do you do to proactively stick your customers to you?
Babysit their first order. Make sure they are properly setup in your system to make their first order extremely smooth. If you have any automatic touch points in order confirmation and fulfillment, make sure they are setup to your customer’s specific needs.
Have your team call their team. Your customer service calls their purchasing. Your accounts receivables calls their accounts payables. This clears the air in case they have any questions or concerns regarding the process. It breaks the ice and adds some humanity to a sterile and often contentious process.
Ask for feedback using open ended questions. Don’t just ask questions. Listen. Act on the great suggestions. Listen.
Make your order process simple. No brainer. Easy. When possible. If you sell complex products, make the variable parts simple to select. If you provide online ordering provide shopping carts that can be saved and easily edited. This allows hassle-free reorders.
Information about your products should be at their fingertips. Easy and intuitive to find.
Efficient and fair problem resolution that errs on the side of the customer. Don’t put an intellectual/engineer in charge of customer service. Put someone who empathizes. An intellectual/engineer will err on the side of right rather than on the customer’s side. You can either be right all the time or have more happy customers. Show empathy. Some will take advantage of you. So what. The good (and profits) that comes from it is better than the little savings on one order.
Recurring touch points. Sales should be contacting their customers on a regular basis. The Journal of Marketing (July 2011) published a report on multichannel relational communication. While the report was in academic speak, the gist was that people respond best when you do not over communicate. Three to four emails per quarter . Three telephone contacts per quarter. Nine to ten snail mail communications per quarter. Yes. They found that people respond positively to more U.S. Postal mail rather than more email or phone calls.
Continuous product improvement. Are your products staying fresh or getting stale?
Sell array of products that your customers use. Many companies streamline their vendors, with greater preference (that means they will pay more) for vendors that provide multiple products or services.
I have never seen a company that does all of these well. But each tactic adds to the stickiness that a customer has for your company. Add the tactics that fit with your company. Let me know how it works for you!