By Improving the Information in Your CRM System

According to the Harvard Business Review, the average business loses 50% of their customers every five years. In the book ‘Leading on the Edge of Chaos’, the authors state that acquiring new customers can cost as much as five times more than satisfying and retaining current customers. When you consider that customer profitability tends to increase over the life of a retained customer, reducing your customer defection rate by 5% can increase your profitability by 25 to 125% depending on the industry.

Businesses that go the extra mile by rewarding customers — with top-notch customer service, discounts or gifts — are often rewarded with repeat business and new customers. Below are seven ideas to reward your customers and improve loyalty, retention and sales in the process.

1. Shine the spotlight on your customers. People love to be recognized for what they do. Doing simple things such as posting your customers’ achievements on your website, blog or social media outlets can go a long way to making your customers feel valued and increase loyalty. They will begin to feel a part of your brand and are more likely to recommend you to other people. The next time you see one of your customers in the newspaper or recognized online, record it in your CRM system and (with your customer’s permission), share it online.

2. Provide an experience, not just service. Give your customer service team the tools to become a training center rather than just a source for quick answers. They can provide whitepapers, how-to guides and even offer online training for issues that come up consistently. Record what has been sent to customers in your CRM system and follow-up to find out if the information was helpful.

3. Follow up with customers. Staying in contact with your customers reaps huge benefits. Whether you are touching base after a meeting about an open issue or just following up after a conference, schedule a reminder for the activity in your CRM system. It makes a world of difference when you call after the problem has been resolved to make sure that it was handled to their satisfaction. When you meet with customers at trade shows, conferences and events, always send a follow-up note letting them know you enjoyed chatting with them — and answering any questions they may have asked you.

4. Give Gifts. Who doesn’t like getting presents? No one! Send a small branded gift during the holiday season, or make it a policy to mail out chocolates on your customer’s anniversary with your company. Those gifts don’t go unnoticed. Each time you receive — or send— a gift, record the information in your CRM system and acknowledge the gift.

5. Reward your fans with points or discounts or cash back. The reward can be earned through simple things like opting into your latest newsletter or becoming a fan of your Facebook page. This will help you to build a true “fan base” of customers that are consistently engaged and that can provide vital feedback. These online conversations can provide insight into your customers’ behavior and sentiment. The customers that are most involved with the brand will often share their positive experiences with their own social network. Use your CRM system to keep track of your Fans and the reward they receive as a result.

6. Create a referral program. There is nothing mightier than word of mouth advertising. A great way to spread the word about your business is to ask customers to refer you to their friends and family — and reward them for it. Use your CRM system to capture and track customers as potential referral partners. Once their referrals become customers, follow up with those customers after the sale. This rewards the customer by providing enhanced customer service and also by giving them the opportunity to earn referral fees by becoming a referral partner.

7. Be a good listener. Customers are very open about sharing their opinions online. Leverage your CRM system to extend your customer service to social media outlets. Tools like HootSuite monitor what people are saying about your company on sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and even blogs. You will quickly find out where your customers are most engaged in the social media landscape and learn what products and features they really would like to see.

By tracking this type of information in your CRM system, you’ll be better positioned to increase customer loyalty, and keep the customers you have.