It always amazes me the trouble companies go to secure new customers and then just throw them into a bucket labelled “Customer”, never looking at them again.
Well that bucket has a lot of leaks and companies are themselves the ones hammering in the holes. Many times you can improve customer retention by just plugging a few of those holes. Here is a recent case in point.
A friend of mine recently bought a mobile phone and signed up to a call plan. The initial sale was satisfactory and she was told that she could view the bill and pay by credit card on the internet. The phone worked, the quality of coverage and signal strength was good. In short, things were going fine.
Then the first bill came in – or should I say didn’t come in. On notification that her first bill was ready she eagerly logged on, or tried to log on. Over the next several weeks, she made a series of help desk calls and spent many, many, frustrating minutes on hold. She was eventually told that because she has a space in her second name (not that uncommon you would think) the system could not match her records properly and she would never be able to view her bills on-line.
“Ah-well I’ll just go back to the old paper way, please send me a paper bill so I can check it and pay”, she requested of the operator. “Sure that’ll be $5 to have the bill sent out” was the assured reply.
Well that that was the proverbial straw: at this point she politely paid the bill in full, without seeing it, and cancelled the account. The way she saw it, their system was faulty but she was being made to pay for it. The small cost of the posted bill was not the issue; it was just the culmination of weeks of glitches and poor customer service.
Why do companies make it so difficult?
It beats me why so many organisations are desperate for new customers but then make it so difficult to do business with them? I’m sure that we have all heard of similar experiences where a company has done something to push a customer away instead of encouraging them to continue doing business.
Some companies have so many rules and policies that they make it virtually impossible for a customer to buy easily and conveniently: sabotaging the customer relationship and ultimately, company profits.
Climb into your customer’s shoes
So how do you know how your customer’s are being treated? The best way is simply to become one. Climb into your customer’s shoes and start looking for all those glitches that offend customers and make their life difficult. How about:
- Buying a product or service from your company through an alternate sales channels
- Making an inquiry at customer service
- Paying a bill for your company product
- Reviewing your website for customer friendly information. By the way make sure you do this from your computer or mobile phone not your office computer, to really feel what your customer’s experience is like.
If you have problems in any of these areas you can be sure your customers are as well.
Listen to your customers
I know it’s not a new idea but it’s one that really works.
For instance customer complaints are a big opportunity to find the glitches so it is important to get comprehensive details for each complaint. Ensure that you get back to the customer with an update on the issue and final resolution.
Ask your customers
Implement an effective customer feedback process. I prefer transactional Net Promoter Score because I’ve seen it work wonders but if you like something else use that. Just use something.
Ask your employees
Find out from them about glitches in your processes, systems and policies. Some employees will also have great ideas on implementing quick, easy and efficient ways to resolve these glitches. They are the ones who work within these constraints on a daily basis and can provide you with a practical insight into what turns customers on and off.
By the way don’t forget to provide your employees with feedback on what you are doing to resolve the glitches. Once they see positive actions coming from their suggestions, they will be encouraged to give you more suggestions.
Ask your competitors
Finally, become a customer of your competitors and test their processes so that you can evaluate their glitches. A competitor’s glitch could be something that may need to be fixed in your company too. It could also be the difference between retaining your customers and losing them to your competitor.