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Improving Customer Retention

Businesses generally put a lot of effort into building their customer base. From billboards to radio jingles, a tremendous amount of resources continues to get poured into enticing more people to buy goods and services. However, attracting customers is one thing; keeping them is an altogether different kettle of fish. Today’s business environment is, for the most part, fiercely competitive; loyal customers are incredibly important.  Losing a few customers is perhaps inevitable, but having a large number of them forsake the company after one or a few business transactions indicates a problem with the company’s customer retention strategy- if they have any.

For those who strive to keep their customers happy, it is usually the case that their gaze turns directly to the people who come in through the organisation’s door to buy a few things or do a deal. But an inward look is probably the first thing to do. The business needs to build a brand, a culture, an atmosphere. An ambience and an aura which radiates strongly enough to impress upon the potential customer. This cannot be achieved without having a clear vision of what the organisation is about, and what it stands for (not as a profit-making entity, but as a solutions provider). Let this reflect the company’s corporate culture. Give your employees a reason to be passionate about the work they do. Provide the right working environment and incentives, and be exemplary in your work ethic while encouraging them to put in their very best. The result? Employees will be fired up to offer the best possible service to customers.

An excessive concentration on the need to make money out of a business may result in the neglect of the first duty to the customer- treating them as humans. They have needs which they seek to meet, and it is for this reason that they engage with businesses. Listening to them is key here. And making them feel listened to is equally important. Courteous service provision cannot be overlooked, as this leaves a mark upon customers’ minds. Issues should be resolved quickly, and customers should be kept in touch with. Where it is possible (and depending on the sort of relationship with the customers which the type of business affords), contact data on the customer should be built. Getting to know the customer on a personal level through open interaction also humanises the business. Loyalty should be rewarded by giving thank-you gifts; promos are certainly a tool for keeping customers hooked, as they are of getting new customers. Involving them in the creation of new products by soliciting for suggestions, as well as conducting surveys to determine the reception of the ones on sale creates a sense of involvement with the customers which they are likely to appreciate.

Particular issues with customer retention should also be identified, by doing a thorough review of the business-customer relationship. One way of identifying possible lapses is by getting senior leadership and other personnel involved in the organisation to “live the experience” through mock simulations of customer experience.  Another thing to remember: keeping tabs of the customer’s evolving tastes helps businesses tailor their offerings to suit the specific needs of individual customers. This has become more feasible through the gathering of information on customers and potential customer’s online activities and determining their likes by detecting trends in these habits.  It’s about getting to know your customers well, and capitalising on this knowledge to build business-boosting bonds with them.

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Ikenna Nwachukwu

Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.

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