Customer Retention

For companies operating today, the fight for market share has become as fierce as ever and the cornerstone of securing it depends on lasting customer retention.  With increasingly turbulent economic factors and globalization firmly in place, your customers now have easy access to a world-wide market that can accommodate their ever shrinking budgets, making competition so stiff that commoditization nips at the heels of almost every new innovation.

The key to fostering long term customer retention lies in the areas where your company has the edge, or can create an edge and many businesses are looking to technologies such as Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Business Process Management (BPM) to help provide that.  But because of the vast capabilities of such systems, companies can get lost in an endless list of features and functions vs. keeping their focus on the business goals they set out to accomplish in the first place.  Therefore it is necessary to set thoughts of technology to the side at first and instead direct attention to solving the business problem: How to maintain strong customer retention in today’s marketplace.

  • Identify your True Differentiators - A differentiator by definition sets you apart from your competition, but so often what a company may claim is unique to them is in fact just a slight variation from what all the other providers are offering.  If you can’t identify at least one major true differentiator, it’s time to start brainstorming and develop one.  This could be in any area, from product development to a special services offering, to a unique execution style.  Think in terms of both back office improvements & customer experience improvements.  Real differentiators are all about capturing and perfecting the “wow” factor.  From there, consider applying technologies such as ECM & BPM to enable and maximize those differentiators.

  • Stay Engaged – Know your customers and continue to nurture the relationship by offering “value-adds” tailored for them.  Although an individual point of contact may change, on either the vendor or customer side, the overall account relationship should always be maintained by ensuring that all relevant customer information be captured vs. residing in someone’s head or their C-drive.  For example, what would the impact be if a new account manager was assigned a large historical account & had instant access to all legal contracts, accounting detail, customer service records and sales history…in one place?  Or even better, had a business process running across all that information that alerted the new account manager of an add-on offering that the customer would be well suited for based upon their past purchases, or perhaps an upcoming training workshop that the customer might find useful based upon their last two support tickets? The positive impact would be enormous, and much more easily accomplished than people think.  These scenarios are in fact perfect illustrations of how ECM and BPM can be leveraged to help you stay engaged with your customers.

  • Make it Easy – So often the customer experience is measured against meeting an industry standard vs. beating it, or perhaps even creating something new altogether.  What if the customer experience was all about simply making it easier to do business with you?  This is where the application of ECM & BMP tools can come strongly into play, specifically around providing central, secure access to information and overall process standardization and automation.  One common scenario that demonstrates unnecessary and potentially harmful complexity within the ongoing vendor – customer relationship is when a trusted customer attempts to do additional business with your company in either a new line of business or a new region.  All too often, the process is like doing business with an entirely new company, offering customers little reward for their loyalty and leaving vendors with increased opportunity costs for their failure to capitalize on information they already have and their failure to take advantage of business process standardization and optimization.  When it comes to making it easier for your customers to do business with you, utilizing ECM and BPM solutions to facilitate and support a better experience is a proven and successful strategy.

Customer retention in today’s marketplace is more important than ever, as companies are reminded that the ability to keep market share is just as important as their ability to obtain it in the first place.  By using technologies such as ECM and BPM to help support and execute their business goals associated with long term customer retention companies can maximize their competitive advantage through unique differentiators, nurture customer relationships by staying more engaged, and enhance the overall customer experience by making it as easy to do business with them as possible.

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