Five CRM strategies for better customer retention

With the rapid advancement in technology, organizations are constantly grappling with challenges in effectively retaining and increasing their customer base. This challenge is compelling progressive organizations to embrace the best customer relationship management (CRM) strategies for success. 

Despite the focus on customer needs and customer-centricity, many organizations worldwide continue to take a reactive approach to customer needs. They, therefore, miss out on creating a long-lasting, partner-like relationship with them. Given the level of competition in the market today and the infinite options customers have, making customers a business priority is highly critical to satisfy and retain them and drive the required levels of trust and loyalty. This means clearly understanding their actual pain points and developing solutions that resolve those pain points – instead of trying to fit them into your service.

The pandemic has severely impacted customer retention

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Although retaining customers has never been easy, the pandemic has made it extremely challenging. As several countries went under complete lockdowns and organizations were forced to move to a remote work model, in-person communication became a thing of the past. The only way sales teams could interact with customers was through online channels, making it extremely difficult to gauge customer needs or assess their emotions.

At the same time, continuous disruption of global supply chains immensely affected service levels. Lockdowns meant products and services took way longer than expected to reach customers, which further impacted the customer experience. Add to it the changes in how products and services are consumed; with salaries and even jobs at stake, customers who may not have searched for discounts in the past started seeking rebates and concessions for almost every product or service. As businesses closed shop, strained loyalties became a reality – all of which made customer retention a Herculean task.

But this has also opened several opportunities to drive better customer retention

There is no denying that the pandemic has made customer retention a global stumbling block, but it has also opened several opportunities for businesses to drive efforts in the right direction, right from analyzing churn metrics to understanding the root cause of customer dissatisfaction. Here are some questions organizations need to ponder upon:

  • How are we doing as a company? It takes a lot to earn customers’ trust, and the last thing you would want is to lose them. Therefore, tracking customer retention as a KPI for your business can provide insight into how you’re doing as a company and ensure your priorities are in the right place. Benchmarking your current retention rate against a standard can help you identify gaps and devise strategies to further enhance it.
  • Why are customers leaving us? Having a robust process in place that allows for continuous tracking and analysis of churn metrics is a great way to understand why customers are leaving. Since lost customers equal lost revenue, such analysis can throw much-needed light on the reasons why your customers are dissatisfied and the steps you can take to get them back, or at least ensure the others don’t follow suit.
  • What can we do better? Implementing a feedback process can provide you with the suggestions you need to improve the experience your customers have with your business. By constantly seeking (and incorporating) their feedback into your development lifecycle, you can effectively address their needs and concerns while paving the way for improved satisfaction and retention. You can also have set dates on a calendar to follow up with customers, deliver highly curated events and newsletters, as well as offer unique services to trusted customers to further improve retention.

The top five CRM strategies to embrace for better customer retention

If you want to retain your customers, you need to embrace the right CRM strategies. Here are five strategies that can step up your customer retention game:

  1. Ensure integration between key departments: Customer retention is not just the responsibility of the sales or marketing team. Since multiple business units directly or indirectly deal with customers – from product development to finance, marketing to customer support, sales to legal – it is important to ensure integration between key departments. Such integration makes sure all teams are on the same page when it comes to architecture and deployment methodology while ensuring they work towards one common goal – the goal of delivering customer-centric products and services for improved satisfaction, loyalty, and thus retention.
  2. Appoint a Customer Success Manager: If you want to improve your customer retention rates, make sure to appoint a dedicated "Customer Success Manager. " This person will prioritize customer needs over everything else, efficiently manage client relationships, address customer issues on time, and constantly capitalize on cross-selling and up-sell opportunities. By developing a customer-first strategy, the Customer Success Manager will continuously keep track of evolving needs, form a direct one-to-one relationship with them, and deliver timely value propositions that meet or exceed their expectations.
  3. Create the right KPIs: If you want to drive better customer retention, you need to create the right KPIs for your industry: right from customer and revenue churn metrics to customer growth rate, repeat purchase ratio, product return rate, time between purchases, customer lifetime value. These KPIs can throw light on several key aspects: why customers stay with your business, what their concerns are, why do they leave, and the steps you can take to improve retention. Given that the cost of acquiring a new customer is far higher than maintaining an existing one, KPIs can help you assess how well you are meeting customer needs, uncover gaps in your customer retention strategies, and fine-tune customer experiences.
  4. Follow through on your brand promise: Most organizations are quick to build their brand promise to attract new customers. But not many follow through on their brand promise -- which is often a widespread reason for poor retention rates. If you’ve promised to sell your customers something, make sure you stick to that promise. No matter what you do, every step you take towards retaining your customers must align with your brand promise. So, whether you are looking to innovate your products, or enhance your customer service approach, make sure all of it reinforces your brand promise.
  5. Curate the right customer retention programs: CRM doesn’t end at bringing new customers onboard or just growing your customer base. You must constantly drive efforts in improving their lifetime value. This can be achieved by curating the right customer retention programs: from onboarding programs that create strong relationships with customers from the word go to loyalty programs that reward repeat customers: programs that have been tailored and personalized to unique needs can do wonders to customer engagement and satisfaction levels.

How will these strategies help retain customers?

Every organization that begins its journey looks at acquiring as many customers as possible to expand its customer base. But it’s not the number of new customers you acquire that matters; it is how well you’re able to retain existing ones that truly make a difference. Ensuring all your teams are on the same page, appointing a Customer Success Manager, creating the right KPIs, following through on your brand promise, and curating the right customer retention programs help in driving better retention. When you deliver exactly or more than what you promised, you are more likely to build trust and confidence that can last a lifetime.

Image Credit: Rawpixel / Shutterstock

AK Nandwana is VP of Business Applications at Synoptek. He is a seasoned Business Application Expert who worked with many leading organizations like Ramco, Accel ICIM, HCL Tech, Microsoft, etc. At Synoptek, he currently leads a team of over 175+ consultants across ERP and CRM Services. AK’s responsibilities at Synoptek include the overall growth strategy for this practice, managing day-to-day operations, and the stakeholder relationship management for the entire Business Applications pillar.

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