Holding on to Customers in a Bad Economy

customer-hold-on2.jpgcustomer-hold-on2.jpgcustomer-hold-on2.jpgIt’s safe to assume that, as the economy declines, customer loyalty is also declining.  The pressures of a severe economic downturn may force some customers to place more importance on price than brand status or long-term relationships.  These concerns can also trigger big shifts in customers’ needs, priorities, decision-making processes, and buying behaviors.  

As a result, it’s highly likely that many organizations’ customer status assumptions from even just six months ago are wrong.  That’s why market leaders are now developing new strategies to maximize satisfaction, retention and loyalty.

Customer satisfaction surveys play such a critical role in maintaining loyalty in challenging times such as these.  A customer satisfaction survey can help answer all kinds of questions such as:

Which of our customers are truly loyal, generally satisfied, on the fence, or unhappy?  Equally important, why? How can we enhance the good and eliminate the not-so-good in our performance? 

How is the economy specifically affecting our customers’ decision-making and buying patterns?  How will these changes affect the demand levels and sales cycles of our portfolio offerings?  How do we best respond to those changes?  Will customers be downsizing and, if so, will we be interacting with different people?

Do we provide enough flexibility in our portfolio?  Are our offerings scalable enough in features and price so that customers can adopt and embrace them at their own pace?  As customers’ needs shift, can we affordably introduce new offerings or “lite” versions of current offerings to provide new value?

What are the new risks that customers are facing and is it possible we can help absorb some of those?  Are our contracts and terms not only competitive, but favorable?  Would it make a meaningful difference to customers if we spread out their payments more and demand less upfront?

Is our value proposition strong enough?  Can we reduce the costs of meeting customers’ needs through maintenance, upgrades, bundles, and so forth?

Are our customer communications still effective?  How clearly are we reinforcing the benefits of doing business with us?  Have we correctly prioritized our messages and are we communicating frequently enough?  Are customers aware of all the ways in which we could help them, or only those offerings they currently purchase?

In today’s economy, timely and flexible execution of smart customer-retention strategies can mean the difference between failing, barely surviving, turning a profit, and actually growing.  Those that act quickly on thoughtful customer research will be better armed to succeed.

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