Customers today have the power of multiple choices.  Hence customer relationship management (CRM) now is extremely important to find new customers, service existing customers, and retain customers. And often regain the lost customers!

Retaining customers is always tough task. It’s all about adding value to products and services offered. In Theodore Levitt’s words “The purpose of business is to create and keep customers,” A satisfied customer tells 10 persons. A dissatisfied customer tells 20 persons! It costs five times as much time, effort, energy and money to attract a new customer than it does to retain an old one.

Customer bonding

Build relationships with customers that will withstand market rigors and vagaries of today’s fragmented marketplace, with ideal products and service and satisfaction. Changing lifestyles, technology, and commercialism have reduced the power of mass marketing techniques of the past days. Making it imperative to create new approaches that value maintaining relationships with individual consumers and buyers. Direct Marketing is one way being used to reach out to individual prospects and customers.

An internal struggle often ensues when marketers attempt to justify the use of target marketing approaches. They ask if it is possible to move away from bombarding the marketplace with mass-media advertising to new interactive relationships where we have informative dialogues and interactions with individual customers. The answer is YES. But you need to create a strategy that combines the best of traditional and cutting-edge marketing and recognizes the unique conditions of your marketplace. This approach earns customer loyalty. Today’s interactive technologies and sophisticated databases have made building such personal bonding with customers possible, even when dealing with thousands of diverse prospects worldwide.

All marketing disciplines today play important roles in the new marketing playfield. Image advertising, sales promotion, event sponsorships, public relations, are powerful tools for building awareness. But their payback may be difficult to measure. Direct response practices such as direct marketing, telemarketing, and direct advertising are versatile techniques that let you build direct relationships with customers. But they may not always be cost effective ways to build awareness. All marketing elements can be combined as needed into a unified framework that supports your marketing goals.

5 steps to meet customer needs

Every company is a service company. And partnering with customers and consumers is what makes it successful in real time. Marketers use their networks to develop strong infrastructure and communities of interest necessary for sustaining customer loyalty and brand equity. They develop interactive marketing systems and create unique customer interface and rapid response systems.

There are five simple steps recommended by experts to resolve customer problems/complaints and dissatisfaction, and to retain customer loyalty. Some problems (as also opportunities) you encounter will be easier to solve than others. If you apply the five basic rules of problem resolution, not only will you find a solution, but will also likely retain the customer and his loyalty.

  1. Acknowledge the customer. That is your greeting. How you greet a customer is important. It indicates your availability to help.
     

  2. Assess the situation. Get as much information from the customer as you need to understand the circumstances. Show interest in the customer with active listening.
     

  3. Affirm your understanding – what you have learned from the customer. This allows the customer to confirm what you know and add information if needed. Thus you can diffuse negative emotions of the customer, and it will be crucial in forming a partnership that will be important later in finding acceptable solutions.
     

  4. Analyze alternatives to solve customer problems. Find away out together, if you can. Share the problem and build a bond that will help in the immediate and long run.
     

  5. Agree on a plan, and then deliver as per plan. Gain the customers commitment to the plan of action. Always follow-up to prevent further dissatisfaction that might arise.

There are times when you can’t resolve problems. In some cases the problem crosses several areas of responsibility of which you might be only a part. Don’t give up. Seek assistance of others in the company. The ultimate objective is to convert customer dissatisfaction to satisfaction – and have loyal customer.

CRM is all about making your customer’s life easier, with strategies and insights that strengthen your value proposition. Use innovation and innovative techniques in your service, dialogue, and your brand’s or your corporation’s equity to create customer relationships that last forever.