It takes a lot to win customers. In many cases, the investment can be significant. Prospects must be found. Needs must be discovered. Confidence must be earned. Commitments must be delivered on. All these things, take time and money. So once successful in winning over new customers, it becomes imperative to keep them over the long term, in order to build a profitable relationship with them.
And it’s not just those directly involved with the sales or customer service efforts that have key roles to play in customer retention. It’s the coordinated actions of your firm as a whole, that determine what kind of overall customer experience gets delivered, and therefore how likely your customers are to stay and keep doing business with you.
Consider, for example, your accounting department. They’re not directly involved with either the sales effort or the actual delivery of your product or service, but their actions can definitely impact the customer experience. How? Any business needs to effectively manage receivables, and that task typically falls to accounting. Do they know, for example, when calling with respect to an unpaid invoice, if there have been any delivery issues with the account that might be impacting payment? Are they aware of any potential “minefields” with that customer, which must be dealt with carefully in order to retain and build a profitable relationship? If they aren’t, some negativity in the customer experience is almost inevitable. And that’s never good for business. In more cases than you know about, your customer experiences frustration at not ‘being known’ and is contemplating replacing your company as their product or service provider.
Information plays a key role in driving a great customer experience. Anyone who interacts with a customer, and who has a full picture of that customer’s relationship with your firm, is in a far better position to deliver a positive customer experience. Contacts happen in full context. The left hand knows what the right hand has done, and is doing. And should do next.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems have become widely adopted by firms trying to differentiate themselves on the basis of service rather than price. Often, they not only greatly improve the customer experience, but also improve long-term margins as pricing decisions can take the whole customer relationship into account, and decrease customer servicing costs as the actions of various support personnel become better coordinated. In many cases, they hold the key to long term profitability.
Click here and listen to what Volvo, United Way, Perot Systems, Absolute Software, Euphonix, RightNow and Grosvenor say about the benefits of CRM.