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Tools to retain and win back customers

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Speeches of Sergey Borodin, an expert of Zolotaya Seredina, at the XII International Customer Experience Forum.

One of the country’s key events in the area of customer relationship management, the XII International Customer Experience Forum, took place on 27–28 October in Moscow. It brought together, on its platform, about 300 top managers, experts, and specialists of Russian and international companies, in order to exchange experience, present best practices, and discuss the industry’s key issues.

Representatives of such companies as VTB 24, Sberbank, Eldorado, Beeline, M.Video, R&P Consulting, Euroset, BCS Financial Group, Groupon, SELA, Ozon.ru, Yandex.Market, SoftKey, ServiceOne, Yandex Data Factory, BBDO Branding, Romir, Zolotaya Seredina, and many others shared their secrets of working with customers.

The main topics were related to the strategies and technologies of customer service development.

Maksim Potashev, the Managing Partner of R&P Consulting, opened the conference.

He presented current interpretation of the Customer Loyalty concept by the modern gurus of marketing. According to him, customer loyalty should be understood as four things: making a repeat purchase; the company’s share in the purse of its customer; the number of recommendations, and most importantly; and the readiness of the customer to make a purchase from the company even if this involves some inconveniences. Besides, Maksim touched upon a sore point of all marketing specialists: how to measure the customers’ loyalty. He described all the benefits and drawbacks of four key indicators of loyalty: ratio of positive and negative feedback; CSI (Customer Satisfaction Index); NPS (Net Promoter Score); and CES (Consumer Effort Score). The speaker of R&P Consulting also elaborated on the ‘Sales Hourglass’ growing in popularity. According to Maksim Potashev, the ‘Hourglass’ offers more opportunities for sales analysis than a classical ‘funnel’ model, as it reflects the levels of winning the trust of customers after a deal made. The wider the bottom of the ‘hourglass’, the more customers have given their recommendations to other people.

The speech of Aleksandra Altukhova, the Managing Director and Head of Customer Experience Modernisation Department of Sberbank of Russia, has become another interesting event. Aleksandra described the customer-centric service model which the country’s key bank is introducing into its service standards. The principle of this model is «I treat a Customer the way I would like to be treated». The main points of the model are as follows:

  • Any service of the bank is available to a customer in a convenient channel. It means that the customer can use the company’s services through the communication channels they find convenient: by means of a dedicated number, a web application, online banking, ATM, etc.
  • Resolving the customer’s problem at the moment when he/she contacts the company. It is known that each person wishes to have his/her issue resolved immediately. This greatly saves the customer’s time, and allows raising the level of his/her trust in the company.
  • 100% financial security being seamless for the customer. As an example, Aleksandra described Ladoshki By means of biometrics, schoolchildren can pay for their breakfasts, and their parents can get an SMS-report on the money spent. The concept of the project is the money which is always in plain sight, but cannot be stolen.
  • The Customer is always right. What is it important to do if there was a mistake during interaction with a Customer. It is important to rectify is as soon as possible. Therefore, Sberbank of Russia refunds money to customers at the moment when they apply to the bank, up to certain amounts, before conducting a detailed investigation.
  • Reliability, and 100% fulfilment of obligations. What should be done if the company has let a Customer down? Certainly, this should be compensated by gifts or additional bonuses.
  • Knowing everything about the Customer, and foreseeing his/her expectations. Only offering things to the Customer which are relevant to him/her.
  • A friendly attitude, and competent Customer service. To help its employees, Sberbank made simple and amusing memos.
  • Perpetual generation of new services and improvements.

The topic of increasing the Customers’ loyalty was continued in the speech of Sergey Borodin, the Development Director at Zolotaya Seredina. Based on his extensive experience of working with various companies, Sergey made a rating of tools to retain and win back customers. In Sergey’s opinion, there are quite a lot of such tools but three of them are the most efficient ones:

Tool No. 14—sale of partner products. This is an excellent tool for the companies developing ‘one-time’ sales.

Tool No. 13—subscriber service. This tool is often used by the companies offering services.

Tool No. 12—reliability. Two important DON’Ts: DON’T let a Customer down, and DON’T say ‘no’ to a Customer if he/she asks for a bit more, give him/her all the help you can.

Tool No. 11—exclusivity. Make the Customer feel unique. Let him/her understand that he/she is very important to you.

Tool No. 10—personalised holiday greetings. This is a classical tool which has never let anyone down. It should be part of the arsenal of any company.

Tool No. 9—gift cards, certificates, and coupons. It is well suited for companies with low volume purchases.

Tool No. 8—educational marketing. It is a strategy of working with the Customer when you help him/her to resolve various problems connected with your professional activities.

Tool No. 7—content marketing. The main purpose of the tool is to enhance the consumer’s trust in the company.

Tool No. 6—arrangement of a club of regular Customers. Today, this tool becomes necessary for companies with high and medium sales volume.

Tool No. 5—Customer focus. In Sergey’s opinion, the main task of Customer focus is to surpass the expectations of one’s customers.

Tool No. 4—creation of positive emotions. Today, successful sellers not just determine the needs and offer the goods, they create emotions.

Tool No. 3—the art of determining the Customers’ needs. Today, sales are tailored to the needs of Customers, buyers.

Tool No. 2—quality of Customer service. This truth, clear for a long time, has assumed new forms and standards in the modern world. The Customer service quality level is changing rapidly today. An aggressive competitive environment in many business areas is conducive to this. Sergey described the current key standards: high professionalism, benevolence, and motivation of personnel.

Bonus Loyalty Program (BLP) has taken the first place in the rating of tools to retain and win back customers. According to Sergey Borodin, BLP is the principal tool among the ones for customer retention. It is this tool which makes any business profitable, stable, and attractive for outside investments. This is due to several reasons:

Firstly, BLP allows increasing the company’s profits by 10%–80% while avoiding discounts, hence, ‘non-calculated’ losses!

Secondly, with 5% of bonuses of the purchase sum one can pay 25% of the receipt for the next purchase, and a customer perceives this as a 25% discount! In reality, they only account for 1–3% of actual costs in the company’s turnover!

Thirdly, the customer always has a balance of his/her money at your company. It is important not to let him/her forget about that.

Fourthly, BLP allows making birthday gifts with bonuses, and this induces the customer to make another purchase.

Fifthly, accrual and spending of bonuses has an element of game which causes fervour. Especially if enticed by card statuses: silver, golden, etc.

Sixthly, BLP gives big advantages for development of marketing communications. You can manage the demand for certain groups of goods, the frequency of purchases, collect and analyse the buying activity data, and always be within the company’s sales information flow.

On the whole, this year’s Customer Experience Forum was very rich and multi-faceted in terms of the content of the speeches. The participants and viewers of the event could find answers to many questions, as well as get inspired for introduction of new service solutions into the practice of their companies.

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