People of all backgrounds have been struggling with the answer to this question for centuries, and for almost as long, marketing leaders have been pondering the secret to customer happiness.
Unfortunately, most are still stumped.
Keeping your customers satisfied with your product or service is non-negotiable.
If customers are unhappy, they won't just leave you, they'll add salt to the wound, leaving you for one of your competitors, and the last thing any business needs after a blow to the wallet is a bruised ego.
The role of marketing today is as much about delighting existing customers as it is attracting new ones. You want to make sure customers have a great experience using your product or service so they not only buy again, but ideally, spread the word through referrals or social media.
"Loyalty is when people are willing to turn down a better product or price to continue doing business with you." - Simon Sinek
Customer loyalty is your ultimate goal, but that can only be achieved if you are in good standing with them.
Before we get into specific tactics for keeping your customers happy, here are few statistics and facts to help put its importance into perspective:
22 Statistics & Facts on Keeping Your Customers Happy
6. On Twitter, over 80% of customer service related tweets are negative or critical of the brand in question, a large majority of customers expect a reply in less than an hour (unfortunately, most companies are failing to deliver). (Source: Touch) Tweet this Stat!
8. It takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved negative experience. (Source: Ruby Newell-Legner, "Understanding Customers") Tweet this Stat!
9. 68% quit because of the attitude of indifference toward the customer by the owner, manager or some employee. (Source: Michael LeBoeuf, "How to Win Customers and Keep them for Life") Tweet this Stat!
21. Top two reasons for customer loss (Source: RightNow):
Customers feel poorly treated
Failure to solve a problem in a timely manner
22. A 5% increase in customer retention can lead to a 25% to 100% increase in profits for your company (whether it be through upsells, repurchases, or even referrals.) (Source: Fred Reichheld, author of the Loyalty Effect)
Metrics You Should Be Tracking to Help Improve Your Customer Retention
No matter what your industry or business model, customer retention rate is a great indicator of how happy your customers are and usually how likely they are to stick around. Client Heartbeat describes the value of knowing this, saying:
"According to Bain and Co., a 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75%.
Gartner Group statistics tell us that 80% of your company’s future revenue will come from just 20% of your existing customers.
Retention Rate = ((CE-CN)/CS)) X 100
CE = number of customers at end of period CN = number of new customers acquired during period CS = number of customers at start of period
Customer retention is the multiplier that exponentially increases customer lifetime value (CLV) and deserves the attention of every marketer.
CLV = (Average sale per customer)(Average number of times a customer buys per year)(Average retention time in months or years for a typical customer)
Of course, you can and should be tracking your retention rate and customer lifetime value, but we're going to look at the key performance indicators (KPIs) that influence that retention rate, and are often overlooked.
Obviously, you want to measure customer satisfaction whenever you can, but you don't want to bombard your customers with surveys and polls either.
Instead, for more consistent data, you can monitor the following KPIs to get an idea of how satisfied your customers are without having to ask them.
1. Average Response Time
When a customer reaches out, how long does it take for you follow up?
Response times can play a large role in customer satisfaction and this is arguably the biggest contributor to customer retention.
We are constantly reminded that to make the final sale, you need to be readily available to your prospects and follow up, but that effort should continue even after they sign on the dotted line.
Nothing is more frustrating to a customer than a company that is no where to be found when they are in need. Whether it is ignoring a glitch that a user has reported, or failing to respond to a question in an email, this kind of negligence can turn even the biggest advocate sour on your organization.
Without your customers, you would have no business, so it's important to make sure that they feel appreciated and receive quality service at all times.
"Be genuinely committed to providing more customer service excellence than anyone else in your industry. This commitment must be so powerful that every one of your customers can sense it."
You need to keep an eye on your communication outlets and be ready and willing to answer any questions, over any solutions, or address any issues that may arise in a timely manner.
If your customer satisfaction rates are low, take a look at your average response times. If they are high, this is a quick and simple place for you to start making improvements.
Consider breaking down your response times into your most popular outlets: phone, email, and and live chat.
Research has found that about 53% of customers believe three minutes to be an acceptable response time when waiting on a customer service agent to take their call. Do you know how long your business keeps its customers waiting?
We all know the feeling of being stuck on hold for what seems like a lifetime. Don't be like those companies. Start tracking your response time and try to keep it below a few minutes.
Responding to customer emails is so simple that it amazes me how many companies fail to respond in a reasonable amount of time.
The rule-of-thumb used to be 24 to 48 hours for an email response time, but most consumers today expect a response within one business day. In fact, the desired email response time from consumers is moving closer and closer to one hour.
If you're feeling overwhelmed by the idea of responding to every customer email within one hour, don't worry, you likely aren't going to lose many customers as long as you respond within a day or two. According to this study, 50% of consumers give a company up to one week to respond to a question before forming a negative impression.
Offering live chat support on your website is a very efficient way to provide customer service and a very popular one. (Just ask the folks over at WriterAccess; they have one of the best live chat response times I've ever seen.)
Unlike a phone call, you can help several customers at once on live chat, and unlike email, you can also ask questions and troubleshoot in real time, instead of waiting for responses on the other end.
There are many chat providers for your organization to choose from, but most have built-in analytics dashboards to help you track response times and keep logs of all interactions with customers.
If you're not already tracking customer referrals, you need to start.
Your best customers are also your best salespeople. When they are happy, they will provide testimonials, leave reviews, and most importantly, refer their friends, family, and coworkers to your brand.
Having a lot of customer referrals indicates that customer satisfaction is very high.
If your customers aren't telling their friends and family about you, it doesn't necessarily mean that they aren't happy with your product or service. It just means there might be room for improvement.
Affiliate or refer-a-friend incentive programs are very powerful tools that marketers have been using forever.
Not only do they reward customers for providing you with new business, but they provide you with several valuable insights. In addition to detailed tracking of your customer referrals, affiliate programs provide you with insight into why people recommend your brand.
Referral programs might not be ideal for all types of businesses, but all businesses should be tracking customer referrals to determine if it ever could present a word-of-mouth marketing opportunity.
3. Repeat Purchases
If you offer a service, such as a SaaS, customer retention is measured by how long someone stays subscribed to your service. People are either a customer currently or they are not.
Businesses that sell products, however, have a harder time measuring customer retention.
How can you know if they're still a customer or if they've moved on to another business when your customers aren't subscribed to your product?
The answer is repeat purchases.
While some of your customers may voice their love or dissatisfaction of your product on social media or on your website, most people will tell you how happy they are by continuing to buy your product time over time.
Most eCommerce platforms will allow you to easily track this KPI, so there's not anything technical required of you, but improving this metric is up to you and it starts with great customer service.
4. Post-Conversion Activity
Now, most businesses that practice the Inbound Methodology already do this, but alot of businesses that are new to the process, overlook it.
Most teams tend to focus too much on generating new business and end up neglecting the development of customer loyalty.
Tracking your customer's behavior and activity on your website, social media, and through email marketing is just as important now as it was when they were only a lead. So, ideally, you'd like to see your current customers continue to engage with your content and keep you at top of mind, when it comes time to make a new purchase or refer a friend.
One of the reasons that businesses have so much success with Inbound Marketing is that it accomplishes customer acquisition and retention at the same time. By measuring everything you can, as often as you can, you are always learning from your customers and improving your business -- in the long run, there's no better way to make your customers happier and keep them around for a long time.
4 Keys to Keeping Customers Happy Through Inbound Marketing
While it's true that inbound is a highly effective methodology for generating leads, that's not the only area where it shines.
In fact, inbound is designed to "delight" customers through their entire lifecycle with your company -- from first introduction to their 100th repeat purchase (or referral) and beyond.
To close, I'll go over the keys to keeping customers happy through inbound marketing and how you can implement these strategies in your business.
1. Create Customer-Focused Content
Customer-focused content is one of the most effective ways of keeping your existing customers happy. Customers already trust your company and have signed on the dotted line. Sending them the same old content that you would someone who has just discovered your brand doesn't cut it.
They know you and you should know them, so create content that shows this.
"Rational factors aren't the only ones that impact consumer's decision-making process. According to Communico, emotional factors have an impact of greater than 50 percent on most buying decisions. An article on the company's website states, 'Emotions shape the attitudes that drive decisions and behavior. And, they impact behavior far more than technical or functional factors.'
Also according to Communico, keys to creating an emotional connection starts with ensuring that everything you do - from the messages you deliver to your employees to your company's overall processes - are designed with the customer as their central focus. When you communicate with employees about their responsibilities, do so in terms of how their actions impact customers. When establishing procedures, consider how the process will seem to customers. This will better allow you to consistently show respect for customers and be responsive to their needs.
By putting your customers at the center of everything, you'll begin the process of creating strong emotional ties with customers."
Create content that can help them get the most out of their relationship with you and your product. For example:
Educate them on product updates
Address troubleshooting issues and FAQs
Show them hidden or little known features
Share breaking news and current events in your industry
Feature customer success stories
Create exclusive customer-only content with insider tips and tricks
Offer customer-only perks (i.e. early access to new features, contests, parties, webinars, etc.)
Perhaps, with time customers might outgrow your product or no longer need your services, but with the right inbound marketing strategy they'll leave you with nothing but good things to say and positive reviews to pass on to their peers.
Make sure you allot a part of your content marketing strategy to educating older customers so that they can get a better grasp of your industry and understand the value of your products and services.
You can do this in different ways such as sponsoring free webinars, giving away free eBooks, drafting product related posts, and conducting customer online training sessions.
A good way for you to create engaging customer-centered content is to assimilate both offline and online events. For instance, any company can sponsor a quarterly online webinar or conference for its clients and customers.
Webinars and online hangouts can highlight speakers from your organization or perhaps your partners. It can be expensive to host an annual offline event, but a virtual meeting gives you this wonderful opportunity to help clients on Facebook Live or a webinar platform.
2. Build a Relationship Through Social Media
"Even the best of what formerly passed for a good customer service is no longer enough. You have to be no less than a customer concierge, doing everything you can to make every one of your customers feel acknowledged, appreciated, and heard. You have to make them feel special, just like when your great-grandmother walked into Butcher Bob's shop or bought her new hat, and you need to make people who aren't your customers wish they were. Social media gives businesses the tools to do that for the first time in a scalable way." - Gary Vaynerchuk, The Thank You Economy
The relationship between businesses and customers has evolved a great deal with the rise of social media.
In the early days, people didn't want brands on social media because they viewed it as advertising spam, but those views have changed as brands have learned how to interact with people in a way that they enjoy.
If your company posts nothing but sales pitches, it's not likely you'll build a great relationship, but if you engage with fans and share valuable, entertaining, or informative content that is suited to the platform, people will be more than happy to have you on their timeline next to friends and family.
A few ways to keep customers happy on social media include:
Responding to posts that your brand is mentioned in, positive or negative
"Liking" or favoriting posts that your brand is tagged in
Sharing/reposting fan posts
Asking questions and engaging in a conversation
Running contests or giveaways
Sharing funny, educational, or entertaining content that is relevant to your brand
Aligning with relevant current events
Social media is also a great way to "feed your customers with good vibes," as Tech.co puts it:
"Engaging with customers shouldn’t end after giving them resolutions to their concerns and inquiries, a good online entrepreneur should also extend one’s customer service relations through smart social media interaction.
To do this, make sure you post one or two inspirational bits about anything under the sun that can help them feel good even just for a while. Your customers are always busy and likely stressed, so to keep them smiling is a good way to further advance your relationship with them."
An active social presence will always attract more attention and awareness than one that hasn't been updated in months and when prospects see how how engaged your company is, they'll want in on the fun too.
One of the most popular ways to retain customers through inbound marketing is by addressing queries, issues, and other aspects of customer care via social media.
According to Kissmetrics, "Happy customers who get their issue resolved tell 4 to 6 people about their experience. So that’s a way to significantly influence the word of mouth about your business. Don’t act as a nameless or faceless business; genuinely talk with your customers as a person representing the business. Address your customers by name, and tell them your name at the very beginning of your interaction.
Talk to your customers as you would in person, not like you would in a press release. Examples of this are noticeable when it comes to customer service on social media where the genuine shine through and the others seem forced and uptight, which is the opposite of being “social.”
American Express does this well on Twitter, ensuring all customer concerns are answered in a timely manner with a friendly and personal response, signed by the employee who’s doing the tweeting."
3. Ask for Feedback
Gathering feedback is one of the biggest and most valuable benefits customers can offer brands.
Instead of running expensive and time-consuming market research, simply asking questions by email, on social media, or by monitoring what people have to say can offer valuable insight into what's working and what's not for your brand.
You can even take this a step further and share the survey results with your customers (like Domino's did when they revamped their menu.)
Here's what Rocco Baldassarre said in an Entrepeneur article about using transparency to keep clients happier:
"Customer loyalty increases also based on how mistakes are being handled. Studies show that up to 70 percent of unhappy customers transform into loyal customers if the mistake has been fixed exceeding their expectations."
People appreciate this level of transparency and when they know their voice is being heard, it gives them more incentive to share their opinion.
Not only that, but when you make changes based on their feedback it shows that you genuinely care to deliver the best product and customer experience possible.
Enhance Customer Collaboration
Customers can become better clients when they learn from situations just like their own. Empower your customers to work together by building a community between them.
Facebook groups and online forums are great ways to build communities within your customer base.
4. Look at the Analytics & Track Data
Customer feedback can be subjective at times, but numbers don't lie. Whether it's views, click-through rates, on-screen time, or conversion rates, great inbound marketing is data-driven.
By studying the engagement of your customers have with your content, you can learn what qualified people are truly interested in and what made them convert. This data helps you identify trends and gaps and refine your strategy accordingly to increase conversions.
You can also generate a wide variety of reports that are relevant to different divisions of your organization, so your entire team has insight into what they can do better and where they're already killing it.
The goal of inbound marketing is to build a mutually beneficial relationship between brands and customers. This opens the door for special offers that extend far beyond a coupon.
Keeping your customers happy is more than continuing to receive their money, it also helps you improve your company to make them even happier -- and in turn, they're happy to spend more money.