Customer retention ideas

Following on from last week’s very popular post, here is Part 2 of “How to stop your customers from leaving you“, Customer Thermometer co-founder Mark’s talk at the LITE Conference. If you missed it, you can find Part 1 here.

You can also watch and listen to part 2 of “How to stop your customers from leaving you” in the video below:

Keep it like child’s play

How to stop your customers from leaving you

How to stop your customers from leaving you: Keep it like child’s play

I was quite touched recently by my younger daughter. I came into my office and she’d drawn a picture about Customer Thermometer, as you can see here. She knows about Customer Thermometer, of course. But she had actually gone onto the whiteboard, she had drawn these little icons, “How are you today?” And I was quite shocked at that. I thought about it and I realized that one of our goals here at Customer Thermometer is about keeping it simple. I think we probably achieved that because a seven-year-old had picked up on it and was able to effectively recreate it on a whiteboard.

This is also a serious message: keep it like child’s play. Short and simple point, this one. But customers do not like complexity. Customers love simplicity. They love to have their lives made easier. So, simple things, one thing per email, one action on a webpage. Don’t complicate things. Clear course direction. Take the pain away.

Here’s another great test. Your proposition you’re currently offering to the marketplace right now whether it be in your business or in your department, or you as an individual, run that past an 11-year-old. Explain to them what you do and see if they understand it. See if they can repeat it back, because it’s the best test you’ll ever find for simplicity.

Do the right thing

Here’s my next point: don’t be evil.

I think this sums up so many of the points. This is about loyalty. This is about creating loyalty with your customers. All of these things are. So many times you see companies trying to be a little bit tricksy.

So here’s the thing, you want to keep your customers? Make sure you take them off the unsubscribe list when they ask. Make sure you refund people without question if there’s a problem with a credit card transaction or they don’t want the product or the service, it’s not quite right for them. Make sure you grandfather people into existing pricing schemes. Don’t annoy people.

Just do the right thing.

Even in the news this week, (just to date this presentation, in Fall 2015), the Volkswagen group. To try to pull the wool over people’s eyes by faking the tests, this is going to damage their business. They will be in real trouble for months and months to come. So just do the right thing.

Now, that’s quite a negative thing for me to say, so I’m going to just turn that around a little bit and shout out to one of the customers we’ve been working with over the years who are amazing at doing the right thing. We work with a lot of cleaning businesses across the world. Why not look around your business and see if there’s something great you can do as well, because customers love to be involved. They love to have those shared values as well.

How to stop your customers from leaving you: Cleaning for a reason

Cleaning for a reason

The Cleaning For a Reason cause is absolutely wonderful. Cleaning businesses join Cleaning for a Reason, and then they donate free cleanings, to help people suffering with cancer, to clean their houses and generally make their day brighter. There are a lot of wonderful things going on in the corporate environment, but just take a look at this site when you get a moment. To date they have given away more than $5m worth of free cleanings. Amazing.

So, when you’re finished listening to this, think about what could you do to go ahead and be positive and go do the right things for people? Because customers will love that. They could also get involved in it as well.

Be memorable

I’m sure you would have heard of or perhaps read Seth Godin’s, Purple Cow, which of course is the whole theme for this book, is about how you stand out as a business, as an organization. But for me, it’s also about standing out as individuals as well, because a company is made up of individuals. So, often people talk about the company.

It’s just a thing, it’s a collection of people, and what makes that company are the people within it and the actions they take and what they do.

You may have come across an organization called Y Combinator. They’re the most well known tech incubator in the world. Twice a year, they take batches of startups and take them through their organization. And out the end, they are both educated and hopefully funded as well with some amazing names behind them.

The founder of that organization, Paul Graham, wrote quite a famous essay now a good few years back called “Do things that don’t scale,” which is a fascinating thing to me because everything you’re taught, certainly in the software as a service industry, is all about turning the handle, reproducing processes and the earning money while you sleep concept. In theory, you don’t even have to talk to customers, which, for the record, we just don’t agree with that concept. But the idea of doing things that don’t scale really fascinates me.

So, what does he mean by that? He means going to hustle for customers, but he also means as part of keeping those customers as well, is doing the nice things. So, as an example, when was the last time you actually sent a thank you note, a hand written thank you note to a customer, or clipped out a newspaper or a magazine clipping, or you just emailed, the electronic version? When was the last time you did that?

Something I’ve done recently, as a recent example, with somebody I met, a very well known business man. And I wanted to thank him for his time, so I mocked up a Customer Thermometer email, put it on the card, handwritten note inside, and he was incredibly grateful. It’s not something that people generally do.

Be memorable: Mark's personalised thank you note

Mark’s personalised thank you note

Here’s another great example of just going the extra mile, which happened to me back in December and I was in Dubai. The Oberoi Hotel is a wonderful place which I can thoroughly recommend. I nearly ran out of deodorant. I came back to my room after working one day, and this particular thing was in the room.

And of course, Dubai is not a place, even in December, you want to run out of deodorant. So, very kindly, they decided to go out and get me some. They went the extra mile. They were memorable.

Oberoi customer feedback survey

The Oberoi, Dubai keeps Mark smelling nice

Hey, I’m talking about it right now. I’m spreading the word. I just referred the Oberoi Hotel to a whole bunch of people. So do those things that don’t scale and figure out ways of standing out from the crowd. That is another great way to keep your customers.

Encourage customer complaints

Going back to a point I made earlier “make a customer, not for sale”, I had a wonderful conversation with one of our customers fairly recently. He said to me, “Mark, I love the service.” He said, “But,” and I hesitated, he said, “I just wish we got more negative feedback.” Now, we talked about this for a while. It was an interesting concept.

He loves getting the gold stars, but actually, you learn more by getting the bad stuff through. So encouraging customer complaints is a really important one. There’s two elements to this. First of all, it’s all about the mechanism. And secondly, it’s about how you follow up with those complaints as well. That is just as important. I want to give you an example here. Imagine you’re in a restaurant. Your meal has just been brought to you at the table. It’s pretty average; there’s nothing special. It’s okay. It might be a bit cold or whatever it may be.

Now, being British, and I know I’m talking to an audience around the world right now, but certainly in a British environment, we’re not very good at complaining. Typically what might happen is the waiter will come over as they do after three or four minutes and say, “Hi, is everything okay with your food?” The diner in a British way will go, “Sorry, yes. Yes, no, it’s fine. Thank you,” and hope the waiter goes away quickly. Why? Because we don’t want to make a fuss. We’ve got a team, friends or business colleagues around you. You don’t want to be making a fuss and sending the meal back; it’s not that bad. But in the day, you’re not particularly happy. What you then do, is you go home and you get on Trip Advisor or something equivalent and you’d have a little bit of a rant. You certainly wouldn’t be giving them a good rating.

So here we have a situation where the feedback mechanism is probably not right because it’s just too personal.

People aren’t willing to complain at certain points in the process, and they’re not willing to complain in certain ways as well. Customer Thermometer brings in that thin veil of anonymity. And by allowing people to click a rating away from individuals, it allows people to be more honest.

I’ve had other interesting conversations with people who even in our Outlook signatures, and sometimes, because it’s too personal, people are feeling they’re not getting accurate feedback using Outlook signatures. And depending on the situation, they’ve changed to email thermometers because it’s not tied specifically to any individual who they don’t want to offend, you get a more accurate picture, which is quite interesting.

So, coming full circle back to my original example at the beginning of this presentation, when I got that alert through from an unhappy customer, the mechanism was right. It was suitably anonymous. But most importantly, the response mechanism was right too. I was able to pick up the phone and deal with the problem. So in that restaurant example, the concept of sending an email to that diner as they’re leaving the restaurant is a great way of finding out how they’re feeling. And that applies to events and conferences, or whatever it may be, but it’s all about the timing but then being able to follow up with people quickly.

Because what it will do, it will stop people from venting on social media. It’s like a private feedback network using this type of system. But whatever you’re doing, Customer Thermometer regardless, encouraging customer complaints is so, so important. If you want a deeper dive into this concept, check out the encouraging customer complaints eBook we’ve written.

Incentivize your teams to really care

This is so important. Going back to my Waitrose example of creating that partnership where everybody has some skin in the game, really, in terms of pay packets…there’s a direct correlation between how the business is performing and what they take home every month.

That’s what this is all about. Unless you’re all pulling together in the same direction, unless the people on the front line genuinely care and or incentivized to care as well, there’s always going to be a mismatch between what your customers perceive of your organization. I’ve got a couple of great examples here. Well, certainly this first one, I’d like to thank some of our cleaning customers who’ve sent in these pictures. But this is a great way of incentivizing staff. Their bonuses are based on the number of gold stars that they get.

Encourage your teams to really care

Encourage your teams to really care

People are creating league tables. When we started Customer Thermometer, we were actually a little bit concerned as to what people might think about being rated, whether it be a call center agent, or a cleaner, or an employee. It doesn’t matter what that person is doing, what their role is, how they feel about being rated. And actually, the response has been incredibly positive. As you see here, we’ve got examples of wall charts where people come in in the morning and see how they are being rated by their customers.

If you take a look at this short video, just for a couple of minutes, you’ll see one of our other customers explaining just how incentivizing their teams to pull together has really made a massive impact on their business.

Don’t allow surprises

For me, this sums up what Customer Thermometer is all about. And this particular photo, very topical at the minute. Again, dated September 2015, when just a few days ago, the Japanese rugby team having only won one match in the whole of the Rugby World Cup history, beat South Africa twice. An amazing match. If you like your rugby, I’m sure you’ll agree with me.

Don't allow surprises!

Don’t allow surprises!

But what a surprise, and to link some of this together, hearing back from Sir Clive Woodward, the previous England coach, about the preparation that he put into place for what happens when certain situations arise. Clearly in that particular instance, the South Africans weren’t in the same frame of mind as perhaps he would have coached.

Now, this is the same in business. The key to ensuring your customers do not leave you, is to know what they’re thinking, is to know what’s really important to them, what really matters. Not what you think, but actually what they tell you, because what you think about your customers, I can absolutely assure you is different to what they’re really thinking.

The annual survey, the annual customer satisfaction survey, especially the ones with 50 questions, is simply not right here. Should someone ever bother to fill such a thing in, the following day when an issue happens, you don’t poll them again for 364 days? Can’t be right.

But the idea of that regular pulse, particularly in the service industry, or to find out how your customers are genuinely feeling, and not second hand through an account manager, is an incredibly valuable thing. So, do feedback the right way. Find out what really matters to people. Even if you don’t use Customer Thermometer, get the right mechanism in place and talk to your customers so that surprises don’t happen. Remember that 68% of customers leaving you because you feel indifferent about them.

Keep communicating, keep talking, keep staying one step ahead and finding out what they are really, really thinking.

I’m going to leave you with a final quote with a picture that I actually took myself, and I’m very proud of, from a guy called Jake Poore, who used to head up service recovery at Disney. I think this is very, very true. I want to leave you with this thought.

Jake Poore, Service recovery

Jake Poore, Service recovery