Against All Odds – How to Retain Customers Using a CRM System

Losing customers is a bitter failure.

If it happens too often, you may find yourself feeling like the protagonist in that hyper-dramatic Phil Collins song “Against All Odds,” a smash early 80’s ballad and the only song that will ever be covered by both Mariah Carey and The Postal Service.

In the midst of a really embarrassing rant, the song’s speaker reaches a crescendo by hollering, “you’re the only one/who really knew me at all.”

Good CRM means never breaking down like that before a customer, and never facing long odds against him or her returning. If you want your customer to take a look at you now, you have to be ready to show your best side, to adjust if the initial reaction isn’t ideal, and to foster a long-term relationship if that first glance goes over well.

Here’s the process by which CRM helps you keep the customer from breaking up with you.

Attrition Subtraction

In the case of Collins’s pathetic protagonist, it was “All I can do is watch you leave.” That’s how you know he wasn’t using his CRM software. Such software will bracket drops in activity from a particular customer while, moreover, analyzing patterns to find reasons for customers leaving. This can involve integration with the customer support components of CRM or with survey results, but can surely boost retention.

What Works?

It’s a bit of a paradox: your marketing campaigns must work together as one cohesive whole—you’re telling a grand story. But the various things you do can also be separated and bracketed and analyzed for success. This may be a bit bigger in terms of attracting new customers, but studies have shown retention does require persistent messaging. This is a key component of CRM, and it can help keep the big spenders around.

Turn the Channel

Just as you don’t want to funnel money into ad campaigns that don’t work, you don’t want to funnel it into customers channels that aren’t working either. CRM management is all about coordinating your various channels, but this can include de-emphasizing one and emphasizing another. Obviously, channels that are bringing in the highest returns are ones that you might want to emphasize. But it’s not always so clear-cut and obvious. Doing a good analysis of problems customers might have with, say, your web channel may cause you to recognize a need for the sorts of customer service available only in your retail location, and this might lead you to mount some campaigns encouraging customers to take advantage of in-person assistance crucial to your product. It may mean investing in an extra sales associate, or possibly going in a different direction, solving the web problem with real-time chats, etc.

Keep Communication Open

I believe it was…Phil Collins…who sang “cos we’ve shared the laughter and the pain/ and even shared the tears.” What he’s referring to is his customer trying to communicate via his customer support portal but getting stuck partway through, then leaving a bad review online. And then there was the time when the customer got a cobalt blue bath towel instead of the Kansas City blue she ordered. How likely is it that this customer will do anything but “just walk away”? Well, it isn’t inevitable. If you are on top of glitches (yes, through CRM) in your customer support and you fix them as soon as possible, if you send surveys to customers, confirmations that they’ve received their orders, and links to utilities through which they can report problems, you should have pretty good retention. You’ve fixed a problem. How does the customer know some other business will do so? Customers don’t really want to leave just the memory of their face—everyone wants continuity, someone they can trust.

Phil Collins can teach us a lot about Customer Relations Management. If you don’t want to feel the kind of feelings that are too icky even for karaoke at the local bar, invest in CRM.

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