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Marketers really need to focus on customer retention (here’s how)

Marketers really need to focus on customer retention (here’s how)

There’s a famous Robert Half quote among marketers that says: “When the customer comes first, the customer will last.” And as companies try to redefine their business strategies in this post-pandemic climate, customer retention is quickly becoming the go-to target. 

Forrester Research predicts that budgets targeting B2C loyalty and retention-based marketing will increase by 30 percent in 2021. In an economy that’s anxious to get back out there and meet new customers, this is interesting and encouraging. The news means that with the right customer marketing strategies, your sales team can find success in nurturing a healthy sales pipeline. 

Through upselling within trusted working relationships, shifting to customer-focused messaging, and leveraging automation, here are three areas where we’ve capitalized on customer retention.  

Use customer experience to upsell products and services

Leveraging strong working relationships with customers is essential. Not only do companies who reach out to their clients weekly have a 26 percent higher customer retention rate than those who don’t, but a good customer experience allows for incredible up-sell and cross-sell opportunities. In fact, while the probability of selling to a new prospect is between 5-20 percent, existing customers on average have a 60-70 percent win rate

As the CMO at Simplus, a global Salesforce consulting partner based in Utah, one of my primary jobs is to provide a fantastic customer experience for our current customers. We invest heavily in our customer relationships, and it shows in the length of our engagements, number of projects, and CSAT scores. In fact, this investment in our customer experience has earned us the rank of number one-rated partner out of 1835 consulting partners. 

We curate high-end, custom experiences that will allow customers to have access to top industry knowledge and hopefully enjoy themselves at the same time. And we provide weekly thought leadership digests that allow us to disseminate knowledge and engage with our current customers. These marketing and customer service activities lead to upsell and cross-sell opportunities that comprise over half of our business.

In a very real way, customer experience is the new marketing for current customers. When you invest in your customers, you invest in the future of your business. 

Better experience beats branding 

Brand loyalty has its limits. More than ever, individuals are suspicious of brands. In fact, a whopping 96 percent of customers don’t trust brands. To build trust with customers, providing exceptional customer service is the new currency.

More often than not, people make decisions less on price and more on who is easiest to work with. “Today, when sourcing parts, components, or chemicals, it’s less about which suppliers are the most cost-effective, and much more about identifying who is the easiest to buy from,” explains Alyssa Suchy, a manufacturing sales director. “Organizations, just like people, are willing to pay a premium for a better buying experience with the insurance that they are safeguarded against potential pitfalls that come from an unforeseen consequence of selecting based on cost alone.”  

At Osmond Marketing, a Utah-based marketing agency that I founded a decade ago, we built our entire business on customer experience. Founded upon three pillars of transparency, flexibility, and affordability, we set out to become the most business-friendly agency in existence. Thankfully but not surprisingly, it was a resounding success. Because we were willing to go the extra mile, be flexible with people’s schedules and budgets, and provide transparency on our invoices down to a description of every single hour that was worked, we became known for being very easy to do business with. And that led to natural growth, even without marketing ourselves. 

“Forget what your brand is trying to sell,” warns marketing expert Jonathan Crossfield. “The heart of your CX [customer experience] should focus on what the customer wants to do, to solve, to experience. And then consider how your brand can help them to achieve their goal better than anyone else.”  

Use technology to automate and streamline

As marketers, we must make it our business to know what customers need―even after the deal closes. Responding to customers with the right message at the right moment is a fundamental part of customer retention. In fact, 75 percent of B2B marketers will focus their efforts on retention and enrichment this year. We can’t do this properly in our distributed environment without tools for onboarding and customer experience. 

Whether it’s contract lifecycle management, customer onboarding, or marketing automation, companies need to invest in platforms that can streamline processes, improve operational efficiencies, and give customers a self-service boost. One of the companies focused on customer experience tools is Utah-based GuideCX, a customer onboarding platform that started in 2017 and now has 45 employees, 250 customers, and a huge trajectory for growth. 

GuideCX helps companies implement faster with better engagement, while also providing transparency to individuals and companies. Customers are seeing an 86 percent decrease in meeting length and a 4x increase in bandwidth, which is producing happy, sticky customers for GuideCX users. 

It’s a new dawn for today’s businesses. As we find ways to spur business growth within a changing economy, don’t forget to show appreciation to your existing customers. By extending customer relationships with new services, focusing on customer-centric messaging, and using tools to magnify the customer experience, you’ll secure the “brass ring” of business growth: customer loyalty. 

Amy Osmond Cook is the CMO at Simplus, an Infosys company, and the founder of Osmond Marketing. She currently serves as an adjunct professor at Brigham Young University and is a regular contributor to Forbes and the Daily Herald. She received her Ph.D. in Organizational Rhetoric from the University of Utah and master's degree in English from BYU. She and her husband Jeff have five children.