These Are Churning Times — And Not Just Stomach-Churning Ones

Whenever the economy takes a hit, churn rates rise as companies seek ways of paring costs. It’s almost identical to what happens with mobile phone services, as subscribers seek out ever-better deals.

The answer to churn, of course, is stickiness – and stickiness is built through customer service. Actually, it’s a little more than that: stickiness, or customer loyalty is built by serving your customers in ways that delight them.

So, how much time do you spend thinking of ways to delight your customers? I’m guessing it’s not as much as you should be spending, because experience tells me most marketing efforts go into acquiring new customers. And that means, to some extent, you’re taking your existing customers for granted.

I’m sure you’ve seen this factoid at least once: Two-thirds of your customers who leave you leave because they perceive you are indifferent to them. So how do you change that perception? You change it by communicating regularly with your customers in a one-to-one way that does not appear to be obviously self-serving.

First, make sure you know your customers’ first names. Then, every once in a while – once or twice a month – send them a friendly message, for example if you are ABC company:

Hi Jack,

I thought you might be interested to know that XYZ Corp. has developed a new tool that makes it easier for you to [do whatever].

ABC has made a special arrangement with XYZ to let you try it, free, for 90 days – that’s three times longer than their usual free trial period.

We’ve tested XYZ’s Poobah Optimizer extensively and can tell you it’s easy to use, and it works.

You can find it here: [LINK]

Thanks for being a customer

Mike Jones

Title.

You can tell them about new tools, as above, or you can offer tips and advice related to hosting. You can send them interesting, relevant news items or links. Just think a little about what you would find interesting, fascinating, delightful.

Also, every once in a while – say three or four times a year – send your customers something in the mail. Because electronic communications are so prevalent, mail is now a good way to stand out. What you mail is up to you. If you know their birthdays (and have permission to use that information), send them a birthday card. In any event, send them cards or notes with some kind of gift – it can be something related to hosting, or something as simple as a free coffee at Starbucks, or a gift coupon for a Baskin-Robbins ice cream cone. Other things you may consider include invitations to free seminars in their area, free magazine or newsletter subscriptions, discounts for your services, or whatever else you can think of that isn’t too cute, confidential or controversial.

I’ll bet if you sat down over coffee with a notebook and a pen you could come up with at least 50 ideas for communicating with your customers. If you can’t come up with that many, challenge your staff for suggestions.

Whatever you send, don’t forget the magic words: “Thanks for being a customer.”

Posted March 24, 2009
Categories: Blog, Advertising and Marketing General
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