Simple Ideas for Getting & Keeping More Customers
Customer Attrition – Got Any?
This one word, if not addressed in your business can in a few years put you out of business, that word is “attrition”.
What is it? The dictionary defines attrition as “the gradual reduction of something, something leaving and not being replaced.”
Every year a business (or a sales person) will lose 20% to 30% of its customers. Customers will move away, die, go out of business or find another vendor. Some years attrition is greater, some years it is less. One thing is certain if you don’t have a program to handle attrition, you are fighting an up hill battle.
What is the best way to handle attrition in your business? There are a couple of things you can do to minimize attrition.
One: Commit to a regular and consistent marketing program to create new customers. Very effective is direct mail such as post cards or letter mailers. Marketing for new business is key. Roughly 30% of your marketing efforts should be directed toward existing customers and 70% toward getting new business. Another way is to be consistent about asking for referrals.
Usually a direct mail program combined with a referral program works very well. Why direct mail? Why not Internet ads? I have found that most businesses should do both, but for most businesses it is a bad idea to rely solely on Internet marketing. Why? The Internet has a lot of noise and a lot of competition. In recent years (the herd) has moved to the Internet. Today there is less competition and more sales potential generated from the mailbox than any other advertising medium. Why?
1. With direct mail your communication (ad) goes directly to the person you want. 99% of people in the United States have a mailbox and get and read their mail. They will see your message. If the direct mail piece is designed properly and the recipients need what you are selling they will call.
2. Your ad will most likely arrive by itself and not with a bunch of your competitors. Do an Internet search for the products or services you sell. How many of your competitors pop up? Are you on the first page? How many of your competitors ads are at the top or to the side of the page?
Wouldn’t it be nice to have only your business in front of your customer? Direct Mail can do that for you. When compared to other mediums for generating qualified leads, direct mail is less expensive and gives you more bang for your buck.
Two: Much of a business’ attrition can be attributed to poor service. This is one you can fix. Almost everyone can stand for improvement in this area. Companies that focus on customer retention tend to see profits grow anywhere from 25 to 100 percent annually. In business, we all strive to provide outstanding customer service. Unfortunately, sometimes we don’t live up to those ideals.
Here are a couple of simple ideas to unlocking richer, more meaningful relationships with your customers:
1. Learn your customers’ names. Everybody appreciates being recognized when walking into a place of business, particularly if they visit that company frequently. As the theme song to Cheers puts it, “Sometimes, you want to go where everybody knows your name.” Make a concerted effort to learn the names of the people you come into contact with regularly, and greet them by name whenever possible. Make sure all your front line people do this and are aware of the importance of it. But start with last names first. Of course, before you start addressing customers on a first-name basis, make sure they are comfortable with this practice. Some customers might find it disrespectful or “too” personal to have you greet them by their first name. Follow the customer’s lead, if possible, or try starting with “Mr. Johnson,” before calling your customer “Bob,” particularly if they are not your peer.
2. Show genuine appreciation. Let your customers know you’re glad to see them every time they walk through the door. Make an effort to greet people with a warm smile and an enthusiastic hello. Then back it up with outstanding service and a “can do” attitude. Thank your customers when they buy from you, and keep in touch to let them know they’re on your mind and are appreciated.
If you can – GET RID OF THE VOICEMAIL! Voicemail serves a purpose but it never was intended to replace a receptionist. I am sure you have had the experience of calling a company and getting stuck in a voicemail system.
“If there is a Hell, I am sure it has a voicemail system.” Nothing says “We want your business, We can handle your business” like the warm voice of a live human being. You may think it would cost too much to have a live person answer your phones but I can guarantee you it does not cost as much as the business you lose each year because a customer gets impatient and leaves after trying to talk to someone and goes to a competitor.
And finally (if you don’t already have one) establish a customer service follow-up system. Call the customer a couple days after they buy and make sure they are happy with their order and the service they received. It is usually best if you can have someone other than the person who handled the customer during the sales process to make the follow-up call. You will be surprised what little things that can upset a customer. Usually these things are easily corrected and the customer is made happy. If not handled, these little dissatisfactions can fester over time and lead to a customer going to your competition.
I hope this information helps you. If you need any information on direct mail or customer retention programs please give us a call. 727-536-4173
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