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Created on 25.02.2019

How to ensure successful, long-term customer retention

Have you sold a product or service? That’s great! It’s even better if the customer remains loyal to you, continues to purchase from you or even promotes you. Good customer care can enable you to gain an advantage over the competition. We’ll show you how it’s done.

Why customer proximity and customer satisfaction are relevant factors in the success of your business

Satisfied customers come back to make more purchases in future. If their experiences of dealing with your company are positive, they are more likely to be interested in additional and more expensive products. It’s also much more expensive to acquire new customers than to look after existing ones well.You may have already heard of the Pareto principle? It basically states that 80% of the result can be achieved with 20% of the total cost. The same applies to your customers: around 20% of your customers generate 80% of your revenue. And 20% of your customers are responsible for 80% of your problems. This means you should focus on the customers which are relevant in terms of revenue. You can do this by setting up a database and comprehensively analysing your customer base.

The key to customer satisfaction: make the customer’s perspective an integral part of your approach

Customer satisfaction is also a question of outlook. Every person who works at your company must systematically embrace customer orientation and put it into practice. In order to do so, you need to know enough about your customers. What do your customers expect? What are their requirements? You don’t need to carry out expensive market analysis to obtain this information.Create customer proximity – listen to your existing customers and get feedback from them, for example, via a customer survey, and also perhaps observe their behaviour. Your customers’ requirements are the basis for putting customer orientation into practice. Internalize this information and look at your day-to-day activities from your customers’ perspective.

Customer care: from the customer’s perspective to customer satisfaction

Ensuring customer satisfaction involves more than just customer proximity and viewing things from the customer’s perspective. What you do is ultimately the decisive factor.Whichever approach you adopt, the goal is always customer retention so that your customers continue to buy from you and recommend you. A distinction is made between actual and psychological customer retention:

  • Actual customer retention involves the obstacles that make it difficult for customers to change provider. These include, for example, counter-trade, markdowns or loyalty discounts, exclusive benefits or technological factors, such as software dependence.
  • Psychological customer retention refers to emotional loyalty to your company. This kind of customer retention is achieved, for example, through satisfaction, trust or an internal sense of obligation towards the provider, which can be established by providing unique services.

Customer care tools are available to increase customer satisfaction. They can be categorized in two dimensions:

  • Firstly, from the marketing perspective – this concerns where the tool is located: in the product, in the price, in the communication or in sales (logistics).
  • Secondly, there is the time dimension, in other words, the matter of when the tool is deployed.

Customers have a range of contact points to your company. A general time distinction can be made between them: before, during and after the purchase. We present various measures here.

Customer care before the purchase

This concerns raising the profile of your company and its products or services. Ideally, find exciting and relevant stories and do not reduce them to your products. This allows you to generate enthusiasm amongst customers for what you stand for: your brand. You could, for example, involve potential customers in the development of your products, achieve customer proximity through ‘open doors’ days’ or adopt a personal sales approach.Bear in mind that many pre-purchase decisions are based on digital information today, which means that research is carried out online beforehand. 

Customer care during the purchase process

Convince the customer of the quality of your solution. Focus on high-quality advice and support in all sales channels to enable you to establish a positive customer relationship. Turn purchasing into a sustainable, positive experience. Trust is a key factor – you will be measured by what you do. This means keeping promises that you’ve made. You could also create incentives through pricing by granting special conditions or passing on savings via customer cards, which are also a good way of achieving customer retention.

After-sales customer care

Your customer relationship begins in earnest after the sale of a product or service. It’s now a matter of promoting and intensifying it. Customer retention in specific terms. You and your employees should keep in touch with customers by finding out if they are satisfied or how you could support or provide them with added value in future (such as software updates). A wide range of customer retention measures are available. These include:

  • Online customer forums for discussions
  • Customer surveys
  • Evaluation platforms relevant to you, e.g. Google
  • Efficient complaints management
  • Events such as factory visits
  • Loyalty programmes offering benefits with new products/solutions
  • Ongoing information about your portfolio, e.g. via newsletters

Satisfied customers are more likely to buy from you in future. Make sure they are well treated. Use customer care tools correctly, achieve a high level of customer satisfaction and thus strong customer retention – set the course for sustainable success.

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