Maintaining loyalty well worth the effort

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Maintaining loyalty well worth the effort
Maintaining loyalty well worth the effort

There's a saying in the business world: Customer acquisition is an investment, but profitability is built on customer retention. Now, it's more important than ever to keep the customers you have.


When we surveyed our user base of engineering, technical, manufacturing and industrial marketers at the beginning of this year, 13% indicated that customer retention is their primary marketing goal in 2009, up from just 5% last year. Many realize it is easier and more cost-effective to retain current customers than it is to find new ones. Retaining customers is like any successful relationship: If you want customers to be loyal to you, you must be loyal to them. 


Customer service is the key differentiator for companies that offer similar products and services. When customers have problems and questions, they want them solved and answered. The winning company makes it easy for customers to speak with a service representative — a real person, not an interactive voice response system — who has the authority to resolve a customer's issue. 


Some companies only see customer service as a cost center, which leads them to constantly look for ways to cut customer service costs. Rather, customer service should be considered a customer retention initiative, or, in the best cases, a profit center of cross-selling and up-selling.


It is hard to foster customer loyalty if your customers forget about you. A great way to stay in touch is through e-mail. Establish a regular customer-only e-newsletter and send customers information that is relevant and helpful to them. While there's nothing wrong with promoting new products to customers, your main objective in customer retention e-mail should be education rather than promotion. If you help them do their job better, they're more likely to come to you when they need your products or services.


To foster a healthy, long-term relationship with customers, you must do much more than provide a good product or service. You must pay attention to your customer needs and meet them. There are always competitors ready to lure your customer away. And there are always customers who will switch given any slight, perceived or real. 


gmaser@globalspec.com 


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