How to Keep Your Existing Customers

Oct 22, 2008 6:53 PM  By

It is one of the oldest clichés: “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.”

Too often, we become busy and distracted. We improvise and take shortcuts. We focus on the end, not the process. In the end, we lose sight of the basics: personal connection, long-term strategy and an unshakable belief in our service and ourselves. The issues gradually snowball and spiral, requiring us to forge yet another plan.

In your contact center, you must establish your goals, stake your parameters, monitor their execution and evaluate their effectiveness. It feeds into your identity — and your larger plan.

Last week, I outlined three strategies your contact center reps can use to keep your existing customers engaged and happy. Here are six more you can use to broaden the dialogue and increase sales:

1) Be natural: In transitioning to an upsell or cross-sell, be assumptive. Use time-honored phrases like, “You know, this might go nicely with…” Similarly, create images that comfort and elevate the status of your customer:

“You can enjoy a more peaceful sleep with our Miracle Pillows. They’re specially designed to cradle your head — and comfort your neck and back. They’re made from foam created by NASA. The same foam used to protect astronauts from G-forces in space. The set is only $12.99. Would you prefer them, instead?”

Of course, don’t be afraid to “bandwagon:”

“Most church leaders order devotionals for 10% of their members. In your case, that would be (insert 10%). Will that be enough?”

2) Gather information: If the call doesn’t lend itself to selling, use it to solicit opinions, gather information and generate leads for later. Here are examples of qualitative and quantitative data you can collect for your development, marketing and sales teams:

–Customer experiences with product or service
–Market trends and emerging needs
–Preferred channels
–Reach and effectiveness of other campaigns (direct mail, print, broadcast, e-mail, Website, personal contact)
–Decision-making process and hot buttons

Likewise, use this time to identify prospects for referrals or testimonials. And if there are any glitches in your product, customer service or business model, this is the time and place to learn about them.

3) Share information: Before closing a call, consider sharing a development or two. They may include:

–New products or services
–New features
–New programs or promotions (points programs or microsites)
–New product applications
–Nearby events

This enables you to position yourself for future campaigns…or gauge customers for receptivity.

4) Test: View your contact center as a lab. Experiment with new products, pricing, packages, and promotions. Test any and every variable.

5) Reward performers: Track the performance of your team. Provide recognition, perks, gifts and dollars to the top performers. Make them feel integral. More important, listen to them. They have the closest contact with your customers. You know what sells in theory; they know what works in reality.

6) Moderate: Never forget, customers aren’t calling for a sales pitch. If selling becomes your focus, you will ultimate chase them away. Use finesse and minimize the time you spend selling. You may even want to seek permission to solicit. And when you seal the deal, quit selling; and make the transaction quick and easy. In the end, it’s all about them, not you.

Jeff Schmitt spent 11 years at Advanced Data-Comm (now WS Live), working in marketing, legal compliance, copywriting, project management, client relations, training and quality control. He is a regular contributor to CareerBuilder.com, Sales & Marketing Management and Chief Marketer.