Two ITA Group channel partner experts, Max Kenkel and Greg Goetz, sit down with us to talk about dwindling customer attrition and how leveraging data is your best strategy. Read on to learn more.
ITA Group: What advice do you give organizations who come to you with a concern about their customer loyalty?
Max Kenkel: First, I think it’s important to reiterate something I’ve said before. Decreasing customer loyalty and customer attrition are not problems. They are the result, and until you fix the actual problem, you will still have issues with loyalty. That ‘problem’ is usually something you aren’t doing. Maybe your customers ran into some poor service, or had a product issue, or you’re consistently out of the thing they need.
Greg Goetz: It’s always a good idea to gather as much intelligence as you can to make an informed decision, especially when it comes to solving a challenging problem.
MK: The more you dig into your issues with consumers, the more you will see that it’s almost always something inside your own walls—lack of, or improper training, lack of motivation, poor leadership, burnout, etc. These are hard conversations to have. There are egos and possibly even careers at stake. This is why collecting all the facts and all of the data is absolutely critical.
GG: Surveys are a great way to get ‘boots-on-the-ground’ data points from both your customer and employee bases. Employee surveys can reveal a great deal about your culture, which can influence employee tenure and customer retention. On the other hand, customer surveys can give insights into the perception they have with your brand, with your products, and with your customer service. A shift in buying patterns and decisions that result in not selecting your company’s offerings can also be unveiled from customer sentiments.
MK: Gathering the data is important—but it doesn’t matter if you don’t do something with it. This why data is nothing without strategy (and vice versa). If you throw a program out for your customers and you leveraged none of the insights from your research, they may very well hate the program. And, if you gleaned some hot new intel on your employees but don’t address those issues and needs, it’s just history on repeat. Like my dad used to remind me, “Only a fool keeps doing the same thing and expects different results.”
ITA Group: What are some ways to make sure you're using the data you gathered?
GG: A critical step: listen to the data. Did the survey reveal that customers feel your employees aren’t knowledgeable about your products or services? Or did your employees say something similar? An excellent remedy to this is through enhanced training. Appropriate and meaningful training for your staff has been shown to lead to stronger sales performance and higher customer satisfaction. In a recent study of an automotive OEM’s sales consultants, those attaining elevated levels of certification sold 40% more vehicles than those with basic levels of training and were twice as likely to be deemed a top sales performer. That same OEM saw marked customer satisfaction and retention improvement in the service department when advisors and technicians actively pursued courses pertinent to their role.
Related: Check out our sales coaching strategies that will empower your people to beat out the competition.
MK: Additional training has other trickle down effects. We recently ran a customer retention program for a client who was seeing their customers leaving because of service issues. Our program leveraged a ‘dinner on us’ concept to retain the customer, giving the field another chance to live up to their standard of service promise. However, in order for the program to work, the field still had to fulfill on that promise. This promise was taken seriously by an employee with pride and confidence in the job they are doing—which stems from being well-trained and in the loop on new products and services.
ITA Group: How can you help make training programs successful?
GG: Effectively communicating is a very important tool to engage your business, employees, channel partners and customers on what trainings are available, and about those new products and services. A highly engaging communications campaign can help build on what has been found through analytical learnings to clearly state what action you are asking your employees or channel partners to take and what they can do to help all of you reach your goals. We’ve had success measuring the effects of communications, and we consistently see a spike when a communication goes out.
A great example of bringing out the best in an audience is from a comprehensive campaign for a large telecom company who is actively fighting market share declines via ‘cord cutting’ through a referral program. Participants here are activated with a mix of digital and print materials, welcome kits, toolboxes to succeed, personalized videos, and reminders of when and how they can achieve more. We can track all of these interactions and benchmark against performance, sharing this back with you to make better decisions.
This specific program, together with an accompanying robust rule structure, has spurred referral growth of 200% and doubled the number of actively engaged advocates of their brand in a span of just two years.
ITA Group: Is there a recipe for success when it comes to increasing customer loyalty?
MK: There is a definite recipe for success, and the main ingredient is strategically using data to guide your programming, promotions, and people. The first question from our clients is usually how much it costs, but how much does it cost to lose 100 customers a day? How much does it cost to have constant follow up appointments to fix bad service? How much money is wasted rolling out a full-scale loyalty program that no one uses? How much does it cost to have people rate you highly, and then not capture their referrals when they are clearly a brand advocate? Training, effective communications, and experience help the field feel pride and confidence, strategic data utilization is what helps our corporate clients and stakeholders sleep easy. It’s the secret ingredient in the constant battle to create loyal customers.
Turning loyal customers into brand advocates is critical to organizational success. Learn more about how you can create powerful brand advocates with our ebook, Brand Advocacy and the Emotionally Connected Customer.