Friday, December 7, 2007

Customer-Retention Methodologies

Most companies focus their activities on acquiring a customer. For example, they may provide a toll-free number for pre-sales information. However, after the customer purchases, she may be required to pay for any support received from the company—including asking questions.

True customer retention and relationship marketing address the entire purchase and support cycle throughout the lifetime of the product and the lifetime of the relationship with the customer. When products need replacement, the hopeful intent is for the customer to return to the company that stood by her side when she needed help.

1. Good Customer Service—A Customer Requirement

Good customer service is not only a customer requirement, it is also a fundamental methodology in a store's customer retention strategy. Nearly three-fourths of online customers surveyed said they would discontinue conducting business with a company if they experienced poor customer service.

Internet 2010

For multi-channel stores, this integration becomes imperative. If a customer has a problem with a catalog order, he will not understand why the same company's physical store will not take the item back as a return. But this is still often the case. Now with online shopping, ease of returning products—no matter what the reason—is essential, and some retail outlets now provide for this customer need. They recognize that a customer's bad experience with a store's online business transfers in the customer's mind to all of its sales channels.

2. Privacy and Security

Customers need to know they will be protected while accessing your website. If they feel at risk, they can't offer their loyalty. Guaranteeing their protection is crucial if they are to provide personal information.

Building trusted relationships depends on delivering secure credit card transactions, protecting the consumer's privacy and personal information, gaining permission to contact customers on the web, and preventing virus activity.

There is a direct correlation between offering a strong privacy policy as part of an overall CRM program and increased profits. This information that customers provide is the cornerstone to developing strong customized programs.

Emotionally, the online customer needs to feel safe. Selling names or lists for use by other websites will degrade the trust that your customer has built with you. It may also violate some legal regulations globally.

Credit card transactions must be secure as well. Companies offering ways to circumvent posting card numbers on the web are perceived as providing an extra service. Some creative ways to manage credit card privacy include establishing codes, pre-authorizing by phone, or setting up an Internet or company-only card that will later transform to the authorizer's credit card.

Determine your risk vulnerability frequently by auditing your site. Hiring independent security firms will give you the best results. Verify your system internally often to ensure that your security systems are intact, and find ways to reassure the customer. Anyone can claim that transactions are secure. You must prove it.

Many companies now employ chief privacy officers (CPOs) who operate on the same level as COOs and other executives. Their primary responsibility is to protect the privacy of their customers' personal information. Establishment of the position is in direct response to increasing legislation to protect consumer privacy—especially their medical and financial records. In addition, reports of corporate abuse of personal data has put pressure on companies to ensure that records are not misused and that there is no intrusion into the privacy of their customers.

Employing privacy programs requires companies to conduct complete audits of their systems to determine what information they hold and what they ultimately do with the data. These programs have also been extended to ensure employee privacy and link with suppliers to create seamless protection.

Online stores have access to customers' names, addresses, credit card numbers and other sensitive data. It's prudent not only to protect the information from web hackers, but also to secure the information within the company itself.

No comments:

Internet Blogosphere