Without customers, there is no business, and retaining and attracting loyal customers has never been so important, with the coronavirus outbreak really testing the sustainability, agility and adaptability of many companies.
We often talk about the importance of customer experience and service, but what exactly are the secrets behind achieving it, particularly this year with all the other challenges business owners and leaders will be paying attention to?
Today business leaders share their thoughts and opinion on loyal customer retention, with a focus paid to this difficult period.
Martin Seward, Vice President Global Commercial Services at American Express
Research conducted as part of American Express’ Shop Small campaign found that customer loyalty will be one of the biggest factors influencing small business recovery in light of the pandemic. Almost two thirds of operators reported that having their regular customers return and spend again would help their recovery most in the immediate future. Retaining loyal customers however, can be a challenge, especially in the uncertain environment small businesses now find themselves in.
All is not lost though. Being a small business comes with its unique set of benefits. One of the most obvious is the relationship that many have with their customers – critically important in helping them to better understand and adapt to changing needs and preferences. Another, is the ability of small businesses to be agile, allowing them to pivot quickly. We have seen extraordinary examples of such tenacity among some of our small business customerswho have introduced new successful revenue streams as a way to survive the crisis.
Small businesses must play to their strengths, particularly at a time when change is constant. Even more important is the role the broader community plays in getting behind their local small businesses by ‘shopping small’ to ensure they continue to thrive.
Jennifer Murray, VP of Customer Experience at Nitro
Customer retention is key to business success, with loyal customers delivering exponentially more value to the bottom line than single-transaction customers. At Nitro, our goal is to create solutions that become part of customers’ everyday routine and become essential tools for work. If the customer doesn’t rely on the product to achieve their goals, it’s not considered a ‘must-have’ and when budgets are tightened, the attrition rate rises. Our team works hard with customers to implement strategies that target their unique business objectives. Our experts use a four-step approach when it comes to supporting customers:
1. Onboarding and rollout – We provide access to valuable resources that help customers deploy Nitro to each department in a fast, easy, and scalable way.
2. User training – We enable customer teams to make the most of their new tools with live and on-demand training and self-help resources.
3. Evaluation – We provide comprehensive reviews leveraging insights from Nitro Analytics that measure progress against business goals.
4. Ongoing support – We allow our customers to experience a new level of software support with “white-glove” case routing, 24/7 global support engineers, and best-in-class NPS.
Our customers are at the heart of our business, so we work hard to ensure their experience with us is as smooth and seamless as possible.
Adam Ioakim, Managing Director APAC, Emarsys
The impact of COVID-19 on commerce has been brutal. Yet sectors we have seen growth in is e-commerce and online retail. With consumers largely stuck at home, these businesses are seeing plenty of new customers. But how do you ensure first-time buyers become regular customers?
Discounting can be a useful way to attract customers, but it can erode margins, especially when offered to all customers arbitrarily. A better strategy is to invest in a loyalty program that will help retain customers, drive repeat purchases and increase customer lifetime value.
Loyalty programs can encourage customers to log in immediately upon visiting your website so they can get updates about their membership status and exclusive offers. Once they’re signed in, you’re can collect actionable data about their behaviour, enabling you to deliver true personalisation.
When loyalty is fully integrated to your business, it becomes value-additive to customers at every touchpoint, no matter where they are in the buying journey.
Antoine Le Tard, Regional Vice President ANZ, AppDynamics
COVID-19 has demonstrated – more than ever – the need for an exemplary customer experience, with a recent AppDynamics report revealing 88 per cent of Australian businesses view the digital customer experience as a top business priority. In just a few short months, the pandemic has fundamentally changed the way most customersengage and interact with businesses, not to mention receive their goods and services. Businesses require access to data that can help them anticipate their customers’ needs and wants, better tailor the end experience, and foster retention in the process. 89 per cent of technologists stated that access to real-time data at the point of need is now essential. Only with the right insights and tools can businesses succeed in delivering an exceptional (and seamless) digital customer experience that builds loyalty – something that is going to be crucial as organisations battle in the competitive post-COVID economy.
Alex Paine, CEO and Co-Founder, The Virtual Conference Network
The pandemic has highlighted the importance of customer communication and how approaches to customer communication could be “make or break” for business leaders. Those who go quiet risk customers being lost to more proactive competitors, while those who find innovative ways to stay connected are more likely to be remembered and engaged with throughout the ongoing changes to the economy.
In the pre-pandemic world, conferences, tradeshows and events were a highly effective way of attracting and retaining customers, but with social distancing and lockdowns to navigate, virtual conferencing is proving to be just as dynamic and impactful while also drastically reducing the financial risk to conference owners. The Virtual Conference Network and other innovators in the conferencing industry are experiencing first-hand the high demand for cutting edge technology platforms that help brands and membership bodies stay connected with their customers, without having to give up all the benefits conferencing and events can deliver. The future of customer loyalty will depend greatly on business leaders’ openness to trying and testing new technologies.
Scott Ho, Vice President APJ at Lucidworks
It’s easy for an organisation to make a one-off sale—you just offer the product at a cheaper price than your competitors; but in the long-run, one-off sales will only get you so far. It’s important to attract and retain loyal customers. Achieving this, is much more difficult than having competitive prices.
Customers are loyal to the experiences they receive. The key to delivering a positive customer experience is delivering a personalised journey that enables them to find what they’re looking for quickly. When a potential customer lands on a website, they often know what they’re looking for and type a search term in immediately. What happens next, is crucial—if that customer isn’t able to find what they want after the first search, they’re likely to look elsewhere and the customer is lost forever.
Having an effective, AI-powered search can be the difference between a long-term customer or just a click on your website—businesses must enable their customers to find what they want quickly and easily; or they must suggest the product they want before they begin their search. Being able to successfully deliver this seamless and personalised experience will develop and retain loyal customers that are much more beneficial to the business than a one-off sale.
Damian Fielke, Marketing Director, FirstWave Cloud Technology
Having worked across many different companies and markets across the world, I have witnessed 3 key themes when it comes to attracting and retaining loyal customers in a hyper competitive global environment. First, ensure your company knows what sets it apart from its competition and keep ahead of the competition by keeping your finger on evolving market dynamics. Second, ensure you are visible to your target market with effective and focused inbound marketing that gets you to the top of the consideration set. And third, communicate regularly with your customers, keep them happy and build social trust by being honest and keeping your promises. Research done by Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company – the inventor of the net promoter score – shows increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%. Remember, when you acquire the right customer with the right product and they become your brand champion, you could have them for life!
David Blakers, Managing Director, APAC, InMoment
Being a leader in the Experience Intelligence (XI) industry, we see first hand that attracting and retaining loyal customers starts with properly understanding their needs and expectations. We’re working with brands to help them establish enhanced customer experience management capabilities that allow them to listen, learn and act on real time feedback.
With the effects of COVID-19 increasing the competitive pressure on Australia’s businesses, having a reputation for being customer focussed is now more than ever, the most significant differentiator for brands in attracting and retaining customers. Automated feedback across each stage of the customer journey should be fuelling actionable insights for business decision-makers in real-time. The business can then understand the ‘why’ behind shifting customer experiences and expectations. With these insights, businesses can more effectively close the loop on customer issues, improve overall business performance and drive up both customer advocacy and brand loyalty.
Paul Soong, Regional Director APAC at BluJay
In the current COVID era, a seamless delivery experience is key to a positive customer experience and has the power to greatly influence customer satisfaction and loyalty. More often than not, customers are loyal to the experience they receive as opposed to the product or brand.
Recent events have prompted or even forced many businesses to let go of manual and disconnected processes in favour of automated technology to be better equipped in responding to changing consumer demand and expectations. At BluJay, we help our customers build up a reputation for resiliency, backed by technology that creates supply chain efficiencies utilising data, networks and applications. Managing fluctuations in demand can be achieved with reliable data that is easily translatable, helping to monitor and swiftly scale operations as required.
COVID has created new buyers and brands will continue to reinvent their online experiences in response. There will be notable benefits for businesses that can create operational efficiencies and demonstrate flexibility to customers as we move into the next phase of challenges. Consumer trust and a reputation for resilience will contribute to a sustained competitive advantage.
Kevin Bush, CEO of Grass Fed Milk
There is so much that goes into getting this right. As a small business owner, attracting and retaining loyal customers should be at the forefront of everything you do. This all starts with having a good quality product; ideally something that’s unique and different to what already exists in the market.
At Grass Fed Milk we’re competing against large multinationals, many of which are publicly listed and/or Chinese owned. That means we really have to focus on what sets us apart and why mums should choose our product over more well-known brands. Equally important is then finding a way to communicate this, and implementing a top notch customer service team.
I believe social media and the digital space allows smaller businesses to compete on a more level playing field against the big players; so having a strategy here is key.