Here are 5 tactics that will always work in reducing (human) churn:
- Talk to your customers regularly within set intervals
Remember: schedule interactions with customers on set intervalsThe successful Customer Success Manager or Account Manager will create layered calendars and work with the sales staff to fill in the blanks. Begin with seasons and holidays. Schedule calls, emails, or letters to honor changes in seasons and annual holidays. These are personal contacts with no attempt to sell. Schedule a call or email on set intervals just to touch base. It should ask, “How are things going?” or “Are you happy?” Although two-way communication is always better than a one-sided one, a unilateral interaction is still better than no interaction. For this reason, plan a quarterly newsletter dealing with product news. Make sure it is reader-friendly and not loaded with specs. And, include reports on business success, key initiatives, and big changes. Include customers on list of recipients for company news releases that add dimension and detail to the customer’s perception of the business. And, make at least one personal contact each month. That call might recognize a customer order anniversary, a need to renew or reorder, or the customer’s need-to-know about product and pricing changes. Tip: keep it personal Every contact is the source of additional information that builds and strengthens personal relationships. So, you need to create a list of questions to ask over time.
Remember: As you learn about birthdays, family names, favorite sports teams, and more, you strengthen your customer relationship and retention strategy.
- Listen to your customer
Remember: Listening is an art.
- Stay quiet: Silence is power, so encourage the customer to talk. Ask open questions that provoke responses containing helpful information.
- Keep it simple: Your call must have purpose, so don’t stray too far from it. You are the listener, so take in as much as you can. But, you also don’t need to fill the conversation with product specifications, applications, and components that are not relevant to the occasion and the customer.
- Avoid jargon: You don’t want to assume the customer knows what you know. You should choose words carefully and define product terms to assist the customer’s decision making.
- Exploit imagination: You can help customers appreciate what the product promises and the vision you sell. Your using metaphors asks them to move from the literal to the visual, and this expands the dimension of your relationship.
- Let your voice smile: If you smile genuinely during a phone conversation, it carries through. Sales people and Customer Success professionals should nurture a sense of humor. It’s not a matter of telling jokes but of conveying your contentment and confidence.
- Use active listening techniques: You can use active listening on the phone when you occasionally reiterate what the customer says. Or, you can convey agreement or involvement by saying, “I hear you,” “I agree,” or “Yes, that makes sense.”
Remember: Stories incorporate the customer, gives them a role to play, and makes them part of the future context.
- Follow up on customer requests
Remember: Follow-up on things
- Clarify the problem: Having listened to the customer, you both need to frame the specifics. timeline, and metrics of the remedy. Reiterate what you understand to be the mutual conclusion. Say, “Let me understand this. If we can (solutions) by (date), you’ll be okay with this?”
- Share the feedback: You and the business benefit when you share the feedback in real time with those with needs-to-know. Instead of leaving such info in a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) archive to review later, push shared accountability out to the related company functional unit.
- Know your customer.
Remember: You have the need to know.For example, it’s helpful to know:
- how long your customer has been with the company
- the limits on purchasing authority
- names of the customer’s backup or assistants
- personal details like birthdays, spouse and children names, hobbies, and preferred sports teams, and so on.
- product-related preferences
- Partner with the customer. Forming a “we” relationship, you can ask “If I were you, what else would I be looking at now?” Or, “What do you see is your boss’s real need?”
- Become a customer: CSMs benefit when they know what the business is doing from back to front. You should shadow the company’s employees in key functional units. This immersion helps you appreciate the order taking, manufacture, shipping and handling, and customer service. And, this helps you spot future red flags.
- Bring customers in: People will get better service from people they know. If you invite customers to visit the process and the people who are accountable, you deepen their knowledge and appreciation. You create context and understanding, and you connect the customer with the faces of their solutions.
- Offer solutions.
Remember: Customers are not looking for “yes men.”
- When those virtues are not self-evident to the customers, they will move the business if you don’t offer guidance on staying on the right path, in the right direction, and with the right end in sight.
- Customers are generally reluctant to shake things up. It’s too costly to them in terms of time and energy. They would prefer you coach them on how to color within the lines.
- Create the illusion of negotiation. You can propose a give and take on the level playing field, so the customer feels part of the process, that he or she has a confident and substantive voice in the process.