Customer retention: Do your processes attract or repel customers?

Getting customers is among the major aims of most businesses. Maybe you are lucky enough to have all you need or you can choose those you want. But you still need to keep them. Have you ever thought about your business processes and how these contribute to your success?

If customer retention matters to you, it could be valuable to do so.

The initial contact, this is where a lot of mistakes are made.  If you try to use ‘clever’ tricks to get in touch with me, I won’t trust you. I’ll be constantly on guard for your next little trick. Even if you get away with it, dishonesty is a bad way to begin a customer relationship.

So don’t call your customers insisting that they are interested in what you have to offer just because they have clicked on something.

Don’t pretend that you want to refer clients to someone and then sit down and sales pitch them and leave.

Don’t call someone and say how nice it was to meet them at the exhibition if all you did was pick up a card without stopping to talk.

And if someone threw their card into your bowl at the event … It might not mean that they want to hear from you. They may have just wanted to win the Champagne.

It’s all about appropriateness of the approach and what that says about your credibility or otherwise.

Sales process

I recently tried to buy a kitchen. I had to put it on hold due to the complete ineptitude of all of the businesses we were in contact with. It can’t be hard to get the fundamentals right, one would think. But listening and not pitching the opposite of what the customer stated they wanted? Not patronising the customer would be a great idea as well.

I find that marketing strategy for large businesses really needs to take more account of achieving consistency through training, development, standards and values.

Credit control

I once bought from a company whose after sales process involved a credit check even though it was a tiny monthly bill. After I thought the process was completed, the Director called me to say that whilst I had a 100% credit score, they could not do business with me because … my registered and trading addresses were different. That’s not in any way unusual. He was implying that this made my business a credit risk. (No, it doesn’t make any sense on any grounds). Surprisingly, even after they found a way around this supposed policy, I didn’t stay with the company long.

I tell you what else isn’t fun … Being chased about an invoice that you paid on time weeks ago.

Data protection

How a completely sensible piece of legislation gets the blame for so much bad practice within business!

‘You have to tell me this information for Data Protection’. No I don’t. The responsibility to keep data up to date is yours, not mine. If you hold no data about me that would be just as accurate!

‘I can’t disclose that information’. You can if it is relevant and you also have the permission of the person to whom the information relates.

‘Can I take your phone number as a security check’
‘Do you know my phone number already?’
‘It’s not a security check then is it.’ Taking my phone number under false pretences definitely is a breach of the data protection act!

Call centres

Why do people say ‘Can I take your name?’ I don’t know, it depends how much you want to be called Graeme!

Just say ‘Please tell me your name’ or ‘My name is Graeme, what’s yours’.

And don’t ask how I am if I’ve never heard of you – it’s insincere and boring.

General atmosphere

Keeping staff happy is a good way of keeping customers happy. An investment in anything that does this is unlikely to be wasted. We all know what service from unhappy staff looks like.

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