CRM- It’s the Little Things that Bring Customers Back

Today I want to talk a little bit about Customer Relationship Management (CRM). The single most important business partner you can have is your customer,  and if you don’t nurture and manage your relationships with your customers, they may not come back.

In a previous post, One Simple Reason to Love Your Customers, I cited an example of an extremely happy customer based on some very positive customer service practices. In this post, I want to give you more examples of what you should do to keep your customers happy, therefore increasing the likelihood of them becoming repeat customers.

Why Should I Care About CRM?

Here are some reasons why you should care about losing your customers, found in the article, “The high cost of losing a customer.” The statistics were provided by the White House Office of Consumer Affairs.

It costs about 5 times more to acquire a new customer then to keep an old one, so you are better off giving your customers a pleasant experience from the beginning than to simply focus on making the sale.

Eight to 16 people will hear about a single customer’s negative experience with the company. In general, people are far more likely to share negative experiences then positive ones, so be sure to keep customers as happy as possible.

For every customer that complains, 26 remain silently unsatisfied.

Of all your unhappy customers, 91% will never buy from you again.

How to Keep Your Current Customers

Now that I’ve hopefully got your attention as to why customer relationship management is so important, the following are some DO’s and DONT’s for how you can be sure that your customers have the ultimate buying experience and become a frequent repeat buye

DONT forget to mention extra charges for services. For example, a hotel I recently stayed out had a reasonable nightly rate, but failed to mention mandatory overnight parking fees, fees for internet access, a fee for the use of the vault in the room, etc.

DO offer discounts or coupons from those who have already purchased from you. If you follow up a customer order with a coupon or other promotion, it will encourage the habit of buying repeatedly from your company. For example, I was emailed a coupon for free shipping on my next order shortly after my purchase from an online site of a department store. The best part is that there was no minimum purchase in order to use this coupon.

DO pleasantly surprise your customer. Send your customer offers or promotions when they least expect it, such as during the checkout process. Perhaps upgrade their order to expediting shipping for no charge. Or reward them with 5% off the total of their next order after they have spent a certain amount on your products. This will encourage them to look forward to your emails, and opt to order from you rather than your competitor.

DO offer shipping discounts often. The lower the cost of shipping is, the more likely the customer is to purchase. Overstock’s low, all the time shipping price of $2.95 is an excellent example. If a competitor has a comparable price, but shipping costs more, I’d purchase from Overstock.

DO suggest related items available for purchase. Amazon does a great job of this, emailing its customers with automatically generated suggested products, based on past purchases and items viewed or added to the customer’s wish list or shopping cart. This works particularly well with books or games, as you will most likely be notified when a new book / game is released that fits well with the types of books/ games you are interested in.

DON’T suggest too often. Amazon is sometimes an example of this, as well.

DON’T forget about your customer service. Ensure that, if your customer service line is automated and asks you to “press 1 for this…”, there is an option for the person to go straight to an operator. Sometimes the customer’s situation will not fit in the neat categories of 1, 2, or 3. Train your customer service representatives to be calm and understanding. Instruct them to perhaps pass the call to a higher level manager if they become frustrated and close to becoming rude= i.e. “If it’s alright with you, I would like to refer you to my supervisor, who may be able to fulfill your requests more quickly.

DON’T restrict your customer service reps to ONLY say what’s in the scripts. Customers do not want to talk to machines. They sometimes need people.

DO offer good faith gestures if a customer is extremely unhappy. Allow customer service representatives to offer partial refunds or discounts for future purchases as a good faith gesture.

Pay attention to the little things in order to satisfy your customers and keep them coming back for more. Your customers will be happier, referring more customers and decreasing your need to use your own funds to acquire new customers to replace the ones who left you.

More Customer Service Suggestions

Do You Hate Your Customers– Seven Cardinal Customer Service Crimes posted on the Freelance Folder blog.

Killer Customer Service – The top retailers based on their customer service, as well as some good and bad customer service stories!

Marketing to New Clients– some great advice on how to specifically market to and keep your new clients coming back for more.

Your Turn

Do you have any suggestions for nurturing your customers? How do you keep your customers from leaning towards and/ or moving to your competitors? Leave a comment with your addition to the list!


8 thoughts on “CRM- It’s the Little Things that Bring Customers Back

  1. Customer is king, totally agreed, and companies often shoot themsevles in the foot if they lose a disgruntled customer while directing marketing resources $$ at getting new ones for growth while losing the existing ones.

    However, I genuinely believe that most email-based CRM programs are bunk. But, dont be alarmed, most programs I have seen directed at my box are unlikely to offer the discounts, good faith gestures, incentives and actionable material that you recommned above.

    Why are they bunk in my perspective? Because they are basically Spam 2.0 -spitting out just messages/ads. Yes, the customer may be signed up to receive the messages, and it is perfectly legal to send them (unlike traditional spam), but I suspect customers dont read automatically generated, or more specifically, non-customized email messages, because, they have better things to do. Probably delete it 80% of the time un-opened.

    Now, if companies followed your advice and offered coupons and other such rare gems, it woudl be a different story. But the broad emails I get from companies like the airlines, satelite radio providers etc., they may be labeled “CRM” but they are just a hair away from being spam because theya re not actionable and in many cases, are worthless.

    Just food for thought.

    Are there any statistics out there?

  2. I agree with you and GregC, the customer is king, or the customer is always right, even when they aren’t. I believe this philosophy is what separates successfull businesses from the pact. The number one thing that guides me is keeping my customers up-to-date with their projects. If you don’t tell them what stage you’re at or what bugs you’re working on, they will feel neglected and as if their business doesn’t matter to you. This philosophy has made all the difference with many of my clients, and eased they way when there were issues that took longer than they, or I, originally thought they would.

  3. @GregC and @Scott- Thanks for the comments, I agree with both of you!

    I especially agree that many opt in email communication is poorly used. However, I do have a few examples that ARE customized and no offer incentives, etc.

    Amazon does a great job of sending customized email, giving you suggestions for what you may want to buy based on your past history usage of their site. However, in my opinion, they email too frequently, and send some irrelevant messages as well. It seems whenever they have a sale on a particular type of item, I get a message about it. Even if I never buy that item. For example shoes…I have never even looked at shoes on amazon.

    Borders sends me a coupon every week, mostly for 30% off of one item good for that week.

    JCPenney sent me an email thanking me for my first purchase off of their website, and also offered me a coupon for free shipping on my next online order, with no expiration date!

  4. Having worked in customer service for many years, I obviously agree with you here that customers are your most important asset. One thing I would add to your points on customer service is after the sale care.

    I used to deal with a lot of complaints in my previous jobs, so when I have a good experience with a company after I have bought their product or used their service I always make a point to send them an e-mail saying so. It never fails to surprise me how many of these companies never reply. It leaves me feeling like they don’t care anymore, or they only care if I’m complaining. I am totally guilty of this in my own business, and I have resolved to correct this. You never know how many of these e-mailers are potential repeat buyers.

  5. Great post! I have worked in customer service/technical support in the past and it was always nice to try and be the nice person on the staff.

    It is true that providing good customer service is a way of keeping clients. And it is much better to keep clients than trying to find new ones.

  6. I would agree that customer service can go a long way. Nordstroms is known for great customer service as is Costco. Having a generous return policy and attention to detail is key. It can also work to your advantage to have personalized service or offer a personal shopping experience. Apple has started doing this in it’s stores as well.

  7. I definitely agree Greg. I run a retailer on eBay, and have definitely witnessed this interplay in action. I have had customers make completely unwarranted complaints that I have technically had no need to help them with. However, eBay is based on a feedback system, so if I treat the customer (who I believe to be in the wrong) as if they are completely right, I will be more likely to get positive feedback, which means more business for me. I think this also applies anywhere else. People have friends, acquaintances, and families whom they will discuss bad purchasing experiences with. There is nothing worse than bad viral press.

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