New ways to achieve customer retention

Adrian Zanetti
To stay ahead of the pack and lead innovation in a fast-changing society, is essential. How can you ensure that your customers have an exceptional experience when dealing with your company?

The top business priorities for any CEO will be reducing costs, retaining customers and attracting new customers. How do you ensure that you have customer retention? Today customers demand a lot more than good service or a nice product. The reason for this, is twofold. Firstly, as Generation Y has moved into the consumer market, they expect us to know who they are and what they want. They are critical, outspoken and demanding. Secondly, with the rise of mobile technologies and the fast rate of technological innovation, this consumer-generation is also hyper connected - telling their friends and families about their experiences with your brand on every available social media platform.

“Today’s customers are more demanding simply because they are exposed to an array of options in their daily lives,” says Adrian Zanetti, Managing Director of Next, an affiliate of the PLP Group. “Switching providers have become easier and therefore keeping customers happy, is a major priority for any business. Our entire approach should be: It’s about our Customer, not about us. We must ensure we give customers positive experiences, and not only products and services,” Zanetti says.

Being about the Customer today means using digital technologies to understand what customers are really looking for and not just bundling what you think they want. It’s a “Don’t Tell Me, Don’t Sell Me, Just Ask Me” philosophy – and the future belongs to those who can bravely ask those questions.
For real customer engagement and retention, a company must take its customers on a trust journey. Zanetti explains: “Would you buy a vehicle from your cellphone provider? The answer is probably, “Absolutely not, my Telco provider gives me data and airtime - why would I trust them to sell me a car?”

“But imagine for a moment that you order flowers for a loved one using your cellphone provider – if the experience is positive, you might book movie tickets, organise a baby sitter, arrange a holiday, and if all of these experiences work, you will eventually trust them enough to buy a car or finance your house using your cellphone provider,” he explains. “Once your Telco has earned your trust, with each engagement, the trust journey grows, as does the perception of the Telco and eventually the user dependency changes from just airtime to everything.”

To take customers on the trust journey, companies need the skill, knowledge and capability. Every experience is an opportunity where brands get to exceed customer expectation. Your employees are directly linked to your business’ success. An adequately skilled employee must be available to handle the interaction and to elicit the desired outcome, be that a sale, a query resolution, or a service. Every employee must have a customer connection, understanding that whatever they do today, moves the business forward for a better customer experience.

Companies should also provide choice for the end user. Corporations mistakenly assume when their offers are aligned to big brands, their customers are rewarded and often this is not the case. Customers don’t want to be told which airline or rental car company they should use.
“Providing options at preferential prices creates loyalty and ultimately retention. We never dictate the service provider and this approach has been instrumental in our success,” Zanetti explains.
“It is important to build deeper relationships with customers. People don’t want to feel like they’re just another transaction.”

Customers need to have multichannel accessibility – and the service should be personalised, consistent and interactive. Providing feedback loops gives us the opportunity to listen to the voice of the customer. “Every engagement should be measured and those brands that put their employee performance up against the actual customer experience, will understand that they have their customers on the “Trust Journey”.  When employees and customers are happy, the trust grows and the business is winning. You can’t have one without the other,” Zanetti concludes.