J D Factors is striving to be the premier Factor for customer satisfaction and retention in North America. I have worked here for almost eleven years and I believe we have accomplished this already! In a world of bankers, lenders and “Leap Froggers” who consistently move around, leaping from company to company trying to find the right fit, my company has overall employee retention and satisfaction mastered! We are one big happy family, and I mean it. I realize that we also have one of the highest industry retention rates for customers as well. So, I outlined some attributes I believe we have that might be “Above the Bar.” Ahead are ten retention techniques for achieving high levels of customer satisfaction and employee loyalty, the J D Factors way.
1. Reducing Attrition- Virtually every business loses some customers, but few ever measure or recognize how many of their customers become inactive. Ironically, most businesses invest an enormous amount of time, effort and expense building the initial customer relationship. The easiest way to grow your business is to keep your customers. Once you stop the outflow, it is often possible to double or triple your growth rate because you are no longer forced to make up lost ground just to stand still.
Let’s use two businesses as an example; One that retains 90 percent of its customers, the other retaining 80 percent. If both add new customers at the rate of 20 percent per year, the first business will have a 10 percent net growth in customers per year, while the other business will have none. Over close to seven years, the first firm will almost double, while the second will have no growth. Customer retention will be the difference in the businesses overall success.
2. Be Upfront and Honest– Setting expectations from the start about what you can and cannot get accomplished for a customer is very important. Your sales professionals should be representing your services in an outstanding manner, but should never over deliver the product or service. If you can make concessions for the client while you are servicing them it makes the client feel special and valued, which in turn builds loyalty. The motto for success and retention could be quantified as under promise and over deliver.
3. Build a Team of Courtesy- The spirit of your entire team can and will change with courtesy. Then it will inevitably filter down to your customers. This involves speaking to colleagues politely and pleasantly, without sarcasm or insult, and treating them at least as well as you would want them to treat your customers. This will help your staff to feel worthwhile and important, which makes for pleasant social contacts at work. It also motivates them to provide extraordinary service, encourages them to be consistently pleasant in all of their dealings and to relate to customers in a warm, human and natural manner. This results in better, stronger, more trusting relationships and longer term bonds with your customers.
4. Product or Service Integrity- Long-term success and customer retention belong to those who do not take ethical shortcuts. There must always be total consistency between what you say and do and what your customers’ experience. The quality and reliability of your service is what your customers expect. Integrity is also demonstrated by the way the small things are handled, as well as the large. Customers will be loyal to you if you are open and honest, take a genuine interest in them, and don’t let them down. Timing and consistency can be everything.
5. A Complaint IS a Gift- I hear that ninety-six percent of unhappy customers don’t complain. They will just walk away, and you’ll never know why. This happens because they often don’t know how to complain, can’t be bothered, are too frightened, or don’t believe it will make any difference. They may not tell you what is wrong, but they will certainly tell plenty of others. A system for uncovering complaints may sustain your business, because customers who complain are giving you a gift, they’re still talking to you- they’re giving you another opportunity to return them to a state of satisfaction and delight. The manner in which you respond gives you another chance to show them what you are made of and creates even greater customer loyalty. Listen up.
6. Be the Expert- If you want to build loyalty, you have to find a way to win your client’s trust as an expert in your field. Know your competition, and know their competition. Find ways to validate your knowledge of your client’s challenges and concerns. Second, give your clients information before they ask for it so when the competition comes sniffing, they are already aware of the challenges that may be presented at other shops. However, do this in only a positive way; there must never be negative selling, or telling. Find ways to say only positive things about your competition, but be firm and show awareness when it matters to your customer about your strengths.
7. Make Use of Automation– Technically savvy businesses today have an advantage. If we can use Information Technology for the customers’ advantage we will retain more customers by making it very easy to process and produce the results they desire. Having an Information Technology professional on staff that understands what my customer needs and desire will enhance services and produce happier customers. Leverage your knowledge; streamline repetitive tasks for clients, create integrated reports with Quick Books and common software platforms, and make portable electronic processing possible, if applicable.
8. Have a Back-up Plan- Too many natural disasters have led to downed phone lines and electric outages, causing nationwide services to be hindered by local market weather. Be there for your customers when they need you, no matter what the weather, and make sure they know about your value added service! Their business needs to work, so our business needs to work, and our company has contingency plans in place with backup servers in three locations, generators for days without power, and phone line backups, too. Here, our customers will always get their money when they need it.
9. Build On-line Relationships- Today we are socially savvy on the internet. Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are value added social sites that help you get closer to your client, creating a one-to-one connection that produces unbreakable bonds, even if is only virtual. The company they choose to work with becomes more realistic, credible, and socially verified if the customer can see weekly activity, be reaffirmed by your ever growing fan list, read new success stories, and perhaps find helpful hints, You can provide this to a wide array of existing happy clients, at the push of a simple button.
10. Pay a Fair Price– Notice that I did not say the most, the best, the highest- just fair. Your employees and your customers (lowest, cheapest, discounted) alike should know they are valued. The amount of money they are earning (or paying) should be commensurate with what they want. So ask, “What do you want?” Then find a way to give it to them. You will be surprised that it may not be about the dollars, but more about the “sense.”… loyalty, comfort, family, spirituality, confidence, respect, timing, security, and worth.