Customer Experience Featured Article

A Great Experience Makes Customers for Life

December 08, 2014

Customers can be tough to get, but with the proper mix of good advertising, powerful marketing, and even the right promotion at the right time, customers can be had. But the problem many businesses face—and it's a problem that many businesses don't focus enough on—is how to keep the current crop of customers from jumping ship. The Internet has provided customers more tools than ever to find the competition, but as Econsultancy recently noted in a new report, the key to preventing that is to make sure the customer doesn't want to leave, and that's accomplished by focusing on the customer experience.

Econsultancy in turn derived much of its information from Brian Clark's Masters of CX report “Beyond the Sale: Building Customer Relationships for Life,” and offered up some distillations of that accordingly. The first idea was that the standard “sales funnel” concept really doesn't work well for the Internet age, but many of the options suggested to supplant it are also flawed, but for different reasons. Perhaps the biggest problem is that the standard sales funnel stops considering the customer beyond actually getting the customer in play. Once the customer is a customer, the sales funnel focuses on non-customers, and does little to actually consider how to keep a customer. Thus, some have suggested thinking of the sales funnel instead as a series of concentric circles, attempting to constantly move the customer, or potential customer, into the center and keeping said customer on hand.

Further, the value of empathy is also vital to the process. Consider the brand as a father figure, a mentor, a wise sage that informs the actual hero of a story—here, the customer—of just how to proceed on said hero's journey. From here, all sorts of possibilities emerge; save time slaying the dragons of business with certain classes of software. Recharge from a difficult day with a Snickers bar. The possibilities carry on in all directions, and add well to the idea of keeping customers on hand, especially if said customers come to recognize that a brand is there to help said customers with that heroic journey that is life.

This boils down to two key points: one, to keep customers for life, the business must be oriented to continue interacting with customers even after the sale. Whether that's social media, return visits to stores, or something else, the avenues must be kept open. Two, the business must give the customer reason to return, and the best way to do that is with empathy, with displaying to the customer that the business is here for the customer. Home Depot helps build the castles. TurboTax helps slay the monsters of April. Pizza Hut gives the energy to carry on the fight, and so on from there. Yes, it may sound overblown, but it's likely to resonate with the customer and keep that customer coming back. That in the end is the primary mission for a business: don't just bring in new customers. A sufficiently deep discount can do that. But focus on keeping the customer coming back after the sale is over by focusing on those things that make the customer consider purchases in the first place.

It's not easy to retain customers; only the right kind of value can really do that. But for those businesses who put in the effort, it's likely to prove valuable in the long run as returning customers keep coming back for more.

Edited by Alisen Downey

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