Pretty simple answer really; you increase customer retention.

It costs way more to find a new costumer than it does to keep a current one, we all know that, but somehow do little about it. Almost every business I interact with fails to get an optimum balance between servicing existing customers and prospecting for new ones.

So, how do you do it.

Stand for something. I am a great advocate of Simon Sinek’s “Why How What‘ analysis. People buy products, not algorithms, and they buy at least partly with their hearts. Even aggressive  B2B buyers, and  multinationals who put in global sourcing by tender as a means to squeeze price, still buy with their hearts because there are people involved. They are more likely to buy from someone they see as standing for something they can relate to, even believe in, than someone who stands for nothing more than their own success.

Be human. Everyone likes to be treated as important, to know that someone cares. It is more than great customer service, it is genuinely caring about your customer. What a poor cliché it has become when much so called ‘customer service’ has been outsourced to low cost countries, where the so called service people have inadequate product knowledge, and no power to actually solve the problem, assuming they understand it in the first place. I received a parcel of stuff bought on line recently. The packaging was superb, and inside there was a note from the person who assembled the order, with her email address at the supplying company. It was such a unusual thing that I tested the email, saying thanks, and got a warm reply from the person. That is customer service!

Be a tribe. Seth Godin’s articulation of this phenomena is superb, people want to be a part of a group of people who are like them. Do you own a Rolls Royce because you want to pay 100 times more than you needed to get adequate and reliable transport from A to B? No. The ownership of a ‘Roller’ says something about you, and those you know and interact with, and attracts like minded people who want to be like you.

KISS. (Keep It Simple Stupid) Making it simple for customers to stay and interact with you is the key to keeping them. Why do Telcos have so much churn? Because they fail abysmally at customer service, and are so complicated and opaque in what they do that you feel encouraged to look elsewhere. It is only when you move that they come up with the better price, or service package, and make the moving of your account as hard as possible, hoping you will stay because it is easier. However, who wants to keep a customer who would rather be elsewhere? They will be restless and bad mouth you to all the time, rather than being an advocate for your product.

A management that encourages, particularly by means of financial incentive, investment in prospecting for new business, when their service to existing customers sucks is on the road to pain.

My preferred measure of churn and retention beyond the simple numbers is Share of Wallet. I recommend you use it.