This may seem like a silly topic, especially to men, but it definitely tells a story about customer retention vs. customer exodus.
I spend quite a bit of money yearly on my hair, as I’m sure most women do. And now that I’ve tipped over the age of 50 I’m even more vain and willing to pay even more money to keep the gray hairs from showing their silver/white strands. So, not only do I pay to have my hair cut, but I pay to have it colored and highlighted. I pay for the special products I need to treat the specially dyed hair, and I pay for all the other products that will make it poof when I want it poofy, or go straight when I want the flatter look. The end result is any hairdresser who wants to earn a good living, certainly has a good chance by keeping me as their customer.
I don’t consider myself to be a high-maintenance customer, but I do like change, I like to look fresh and perky and I want help and suggestions to keep up to date. I’ve noticed that when I first start out with a new hairdresser, they are very willing to spend time on that first visit discussing my concerns about my current hair style, asking questions about my activity level, how much time I want to devote to daily hair care and what thoughts I have about my color and style. It’s the best feeling to have someone actually take that time to help me figure out what I need to do to be fresh and look good.
The next visit there is the conversation about how I liked the new do, what worked, what didn’t, etc., then adjustments are made. The next few visits have a little initial conversation about the hair, but after awhile it feels like the stylist is assuming what
I want and is just anxious to get going on the whole haircut ritual forgetting about that first-time experience. I then find myself at each of the next visits trying to squeeze in a few comments about what I would like to try or what’s bothering me about my hair, but walk out with no real sense of change, hence feeling like I wasn’t heard.
Eventually I decide to call another salon and look for another awesome “first-time experience.” I feel guilty for changing and also sad that I had to. But, as I stated in the beginning, my hair is personal and very important to me.
I started thinking about our customers and wondering if we continue to give them each that first-time experience, or if after awhile we treat them like a “regular?” My guess is that after some time, we treat many of our customers as a regular and forget to take a little extra time at the beginning of each encounter to make them feel important and to find out what is really on their mind.
How often to we reach out to them to check and see how things are going? Or invite them in for a tour to see some of our new equipment or samples of things we are doing for our other clients. Do we set up Lunch ‘n Learns and invite a few customers in at a time to show them things that would help them get more ROI on the money they are spending with you? What about a hand-written thank you note once in awhile?
With our new customers, it is easy to cover all the above because we are still in the dating phase of the relationship and we are still trying to win them over. We’re tying to figure them out and working to set up a relationship that provides an annuity for our company for many years to come. However, after the marriage is sealed, too often we tend to take the relationship for granted and slowly, over time it may even slip away. We may be so busy working on securing new relationships, that we don’t even realize that one of our “regulars” just left us for good.
In today’s marketplace customer retention is critical. No business can afford to lose even one good customer. So while we are trying to acquire new customers, we need to have a strategic plan in place to retain our current relationships. You need to establish a system for reaching out to each of their customers to make sure they are getting the attention they deserve. Schedule in time each day to make the calls and they need to be trained on how to give that first-time experience when reaching out to the customer.
I encourage every business to establish a plan for customer retention and hold your sales team accountable for keeping those relationships new and fresh. Not everyone needs as much change as I do, but I bet there are many customers that would truly appreciate the extra attention, the suggestions and ideas on how to make them look better and how to get more return on investment of their printing dollars.