Customer retention strategies that work in uncertain times
Change is one of the few constants in life, especially in business. Enterprises that are able to adapt to change will be able to withstand not only the small fluctuations of everyday operations, but also sudden major disruptions. A global pandemic is but one possibility here; natural disasters and other crises may pull the rug out from under your organization’s feet at any time. The question is whether your enterprise is equipped to deal with it properly when it does.
One especially important facet of planning for the unexpected inevitable is customer retention. In difficult, uncertain times, attracting new customers becomes exponentially harder as budgets tighten and priorities shift. Keeping customers who already know you becomes more critical than ever for the stability and long-term success of your enterprise. Here are some customer retention strategies that you’ll want to use:
- Digitally engage with your customers
- Use customer data to make data-driven decisions
- Proactively manage expectations
- Swiftly and effectively respond to escalations
- Leverage an early warning system
- Offer flexibility in refunds, downgrades, discounts, or discontinuations
Employing these strategies ensures that customers are supported as they adapt to a quickly changing business environment.
Strategies for Retaining Customers During Difficult Times
The key to retaining customers during times of crisis or economic downturns is to demonstrate that your products and services are not merely valuable, but necessary. You need to show that not only can your company adapt to the new situation, but that what you offer will be instrumental in helping your customers adapt as well.
As such, it is critical to:
- Digitally engage with your customers at all levels. Effective personal communications help build and maintain connections with your customers that can weather the storm. An email or message now and then isn’t enough; effective communication means that every touch provides value to the customer.
- Use customer data to make data-driven decisions because now is not the time to guess. The first step you can take is to segment your customers based on the impact the crisis has had on their business and scale your efforts accordingly. You will want to track your efforts and their impact so that you can course-adjust when needed.
- Proactively manage expectations and address issues that can be expected to arise as a result of the change that has occurred. Provide your team with the tools and training necessary to work remotely and collaborate if needed.
- Swiftly and effectively respond to escalations, even during a sudden influx of calls and messages. People may be experiencing technical difficulties related to whatever change has occurred. It’s important to be honest and use escalations as a way to grow your relationship with the customer.
- Leverage an early-warning system. Automating standard processes can prevent churn by ensuring that no customers slip through the cracks. Be sure to look at data across the customer journey for maximum effectiveness. Although a single event may be the deciding factor for some customers, others may have had a series of occurrences that lead to the ultimate decision.
- Offer flexibility in refunds, downgrades, discounts, or discontinuations to help customers free up space in their budgets for more pressing costs. It is up to your team to be there for your customers when they need you most, and help them navigate the new uncharted waters.
Your customers are focused on making cuts where needed or scaling their efforts with the workforce they have today. To ensure your products and services are not among the “nonessentials” that get cut from their budgets first, you not only have to support your customers, but ensure your own enterprise is operating at maximum efficiency. To do that, you need a Customer Success solution that can adapt as quickly as the times can change.
Support Your Customer Retention Strategies with the Right Technology
During times of upheaval, economic or otherwise, creating a digital engagement strategy can be an efficient way to stay connected with all of your customers without overburdening your teams or your systems. Timely resources and data-driven proactive management of accounts help make customers continue to feel valued while your teams prioritize unique elevations and other interactions that require a more human touch.
This is where the hidden strength of good Customer Success technology comes into play.
- The right software will allow your teams to share the right data with the right people at the right time, allowing operations to continue to run smoothly even in spite of an unexpected major change in circumstances.
- A solution that includes an early-warning system can also help your teams effectively keep track of red flags related to customer health and to determine an appropriate course of action. This aids greatly in maximizing retention rates and identifying expansion opportunities.
- One of the most valuable assets a good CS solution can provide is the ability to collaborate effectively—both internally and externally—to protect the connections your teams have worked so hard to forge.
Even those customers that ultimately leave will remember how they were treated during this time, and that memory can greatly impact a decision later to revive their relationship with your enterprise—or not—when circumstances improve. Your CS technology can help with this. It should be robust and flexible enough to adapt to whatever alterations your enterprise needs to implement in order to cope with the shifting tides.
Even during times of stability when the way forward seems clear, change remains the only inevitability. You may not always be able to predict when it will come, but armed with the right technology, you can be prepared when it does, with the right customer retention strategies.