by Ajay Patel
Customers are the lifeblood of any business. You should always be seeking out new ones, of course, but having a steady stream of income from repeat customers and referrals is the best way to boost your reputation and your bottom line.
When someone becomes a customer, your immediate focus should be to deliver a solid product and exceptional service. Then, you can figure out how to turn that single sale into multiple conversions over time.
Any smart leader knows that once customer acquisition costs are recouped, return customers deliver high margins. And according to the authors of “Marketing Metrics,” it’s about 50 percent easier to upsell existing customers than it is to sell to new prospects.
My company has never permanently lost a client. And in my experience, these three areas of focus can help you retain your existing customers and drive new sales and referrals:
- Insight into your ideal customers: To please your customers, you need to understand who they are and what they value from the get-go. In the early days, it’s tempting to close any deal to start growing your client base and generating revenue — even if it’s not the right fit. But this can lead you to sacrifice quality and capital down the road.
- Customer satisfaction: A loyal customer is a lucrative one — unless customer service or product quality tapers off. If your offering begins to lag in either of these areas, clients will jump ship for a competitor, and you can bet they’ll tell their friends all about their poor experience.
- Realistic goals to measure success: The size of your organization will determine the amount of customer churn you have. Smaller organizations have fewer resources to invest in long-term relationships and may see more turnover than larger firms that can assign account managers to clients for face-to-face support. Create realistic goals for your company, and track how your business aligns with your projections.
4 Ways to Boost Customer Satisfaction and Reduce Churn
It’s easy to say you should make customer satisfaction a priority, but you need to have some concrete strategies in place to support that goal:
1. Deliver an exceptional product.
Many startups overinvest in marketing, believing that fast growth is the key to success, but a lackluster product guarantees failure no matter how slick your marketing may be. My company spends less than 15 percent on sales and marketing, but by focusing on our product and dedicating resources to operations, we’ve managed to increase sales by 25 percent from existing customers alone.
2. Respond quickly to customer feedback.
Your users will tell you what they want — whether you want to hear it or not. You need to respond to requests and complaints in your product updates. Staying engaged with your customers allows you to continually improve your product to create something that perfectly fits their needs.
3. Focus on the user experience.
Creating usable software is the key to retaining customers for the long term. If the software isn’t intuitive and visually appealing, customers will go elsewhere. The goal is to create a product your customers love to use and simply can’t live without.
4. Don’t skimp on service.
This one should go without saying, but if you’re not offering the full package of a great product and stellar service, your customers will look to your competitors instead. Good service costs money, so don’t be afraid to walk away from new business that doesn’t make commercial sense. It’s OK to have a minimum pricing threshold, and it’s ok to be more expensive than the competition — but only if the quality of your service justifies it.
Don’t ever give your customers a reason to leave you. Stay ahead of the curve, and keep your support staff available around the clock.
Once you’ve hooked customers, the odds are in your favor. It’s a hassle for them to switch to your competitors because it costs them time and money. There are also plenty of opportunities to upsell existing customers; you just have to figure out how to make them love your product enough that they’re willing to spend even more money with you.
Happy customers talk as much as disgruntled ones do, and keeping quality and service at the heart of your business will help you build long-lasting customer relationships that continue to be profitable year after year.
Ajay Patel is the co-founder and CEO of HighQ, an enterprise cloud collaboration company that has been recognized by the Deloitte Fast 50 and Sunday Times Tech Top100 as one of the fastest-growing technology companies in the U.K. Ajay started HighQ in 2001 and bootstrapped the business with £20,000 in seed capital; today, the company generates eight-figure recurring revenues and is highly profitable.
Minerva Studio | Courtesy of Ajay Patel