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Very few of us enjoy selling. My dislike stems from poor sales experiences. Whether it’s a salesperson who launches into product features without asking what I need, someone who doesn’t hear ‘no’ or a telesales person who feels entitled to my time, I don’t want to be one of them.

So why does business rely on sell, sell, sell? Why do we ignore research telling us why we should focus on retaining customers?

• In an econsultancy survey, over two-thirds (70%) of respondents agreed it’s cheaper to retain than acquire a customer; 61% agreed consumers ignore mass marketing. • During the same econsultancy survey, 49% said “pound for pound, we achieve better ROI by investing in relationship over acquisition marketing”. • Customer loyalty is very important. 78% of loyal customers help spread the word about your brand, and 54% won’t even consider switching to a competitor. zendesk • Businesses can grow revenues between 4% and 8% above their market when they prioritize better customer service experiences. Bain & Company • Increasing customer retention by 5% increases profits from 25% to 95%. Bain and Company, Harvard Business School

The key to being on the right side of these statistics, retain customers and sustain your business is a great – a compelling – customer experience. So, I say, stop selling; start retaining.

How customer loyalty helps business

• 89% of businesses, "see customer experience as a key factor in driving customer loyalty and retention." econsultancy

The following exercise will help you explore the benefits of customer loyalty. Writing the answers may give you ideas to research the loyalty of your customers.

We are all customers. At the very least we are consumers, and many of us buy products and services for organisations.

Consider two companies.

You are a customer of both. One makes you smile; the other makes you frown. For each company, ask yourself:

Will I buy again? Do I automatically return or do I shop around? Am I open to trying innovative products or services from this company?

Now consider of the two companies which:

  • Finds it easier to sell to you?
  • Has earned more from you?
  • Charges a little more without losing your custom?

How does the impressive company earn and keep your loyalty?

Does it understand and meet your needs? Is it trustworthy and reliable? When things have gone wrong, did it go the extra mile to make you happy?

How to retain customers

Now shake off being a customer and return to your business. On a sliding scale from 1 to 10, where does your business sit? 1 represents the business which makes you frown and the business making you smile score 10.

If you had to defend your position in court, what evidence would you use?

Can you produce direct measures? Perhaps a scoring system such as customer satisfaction or net promoter? Can you show the jury testimonials, recommendations, reviews or qualitative feedback?

Say it’s not a court of law, but your board or shareholders you must convince. What business metrics would illustrate the cost or benefits of your customer experience:

Churn, Customer Lifetime Value, cost of sales, cost of service / support.

If you want to stop selling and start retaining, you need both kinds of measures. You also need to analyse the data to understand your customers likes and dislikes. Most importantly, you need the skills to change your business. You might have to address culture, systems, processes and skills.

#CustomerRetention is complex. Look out for daily posts #customerretention and if you’re keen to build a customer experience that has your customers crying out for more, get in touch with Michelle at https://customerexperienceconsultant.co.uk/.

*You will need to continue selling, but that makes for a much less dramatic headline!

This blog discusses customer experience and how it improves business performance

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