What is today’s biggest challenge for businesses? We think it’s customer retention.
Whilst there are likely to be many competing views on this, it is hard to deny that consumers are swamped by choice in almost every market – from high street fashion through to financial services. This means increased competition for you, making it tougher to find new customers and on the flipside, it also means that your customer loyalty needs to be strong enough to resist the efforts of your competitors.
Forrester research, in 2008, found that the acquisition of a new customer costs at least five times the cost of retaining existing customers. That’s a significant amount of money. Profit is also a key issue in retention, with various pieces of research indicating that profitability increases over the ‘lifetime’ of a customer.
Loyalty extends further beyond the initial financials around individuals, however, with increased brand power coming from positive anecdotes of excellent experiences and strong advocacy from satisfied customers. Furthermore, the longer a customer spends with you, the more insight you gain into them (and their peers), allowing you to learn valuable lessons about your service and your products, ultimately giving you the ability to further develop your business.
With this in mind, it’s unlikely any business can afford to ignore the power of customer retention.
The Role of Customer Communications
When a customer makes a decision to buy from you, they are emotionally invested in your business to some extent. This is usually the result of a powerful stream of communications satisfying their concerns over a period of time, eventually influencing them to make a buying decision. Once captured, communication should not stop, nor should there be any less effort applied to considering how, when and why we communicate with our customers.
Communications should foster a sense of security amongst the existing customer base so that each individual feels that they have made the right decision in buying from you. They must also provide customers with a sense of belonging, pitched in line with the values of the brand: such a synergy between the brand and the individual psyches will create powerful loyalty. Every communication plays a role in creating this security and synergy: letters, emails, phone calls, in-store experiences and other touchpoints.
Perhaps one of the most important roles for customer communications is combating perceptions of ‘indifference’. It is extremely difficult for an organisation with thousands of individual customers to maintain strong, personal relationships with each of them. From a customer’s perspective, a lack of communication, coupled with mediocre or impersonal service can create a very strong feeling that your company doesn’t really value them: an approach from a competitor could cause you to lose their custom.
Personalisation – and we’re not just talking about putting a first name in a letter(!) – comes into play with the insights that we gain about our customers becoming extremely valuable in ensuring that our targeting is precisely oriented to hit them with the correct messages at the correct time.
Simple measures to change the way we approach our customers with communications, and implementing processes that enable teams to make the best use of the customer insights they develop, can significantly enhance your customer service provision and the satisfaction of customers.
Effective Customer Communications Management
How do you make communications with customers work like this? Well, the key is an effective Customer Communications Management (CCM) system. IT drives organisations, but document management and output systems currently in use across many businesses are legacy systems, sometimes built before the birth of the internet!
The flexibility and functionality of these legacy systems is highly restricted by their age: these systems were not built to accommodate the needs or expectations of today’s consumers. Customer communications has developed beyond the data management and output functionality of legacy systems, instead modern CCM allows organisations to flexibly adapt to business and company requirements rapidly and provide personalised, targeted communications across multiple channels.
The Icon Suite, Icon UK’s CCM solution, allows teams to extract insights from customer interactions and use them in communications that would otherwise be standardised. The opportunity to address customer needs and requirements at a very personal level leads to a significantly enhanced customer experience.
Investment in a modern and effective CCM solution can lead to significant gains in customer retention and the revenue and profit benefits that are associated with it.
Is it time to evaluate your options?
Icon UK delivers effective Customer Communications Management solutions into enterprise organisations, revolutionising the way their customer-facing teams work, transforming workflows and processes and enabling modern, personalised and contextual communications that clients not just receive, but can engage with.
If you run legacy document creation, production or distribution systems, our integrated suite of comprehensive modular functionality should be on your list of options – email Steve Reynolds, Icon UK’s Sales Director, to find out more: SteveR@icon-uk.net.