When it comes to customer support the hosting industry is in crisis mode. Until a few years ago, many hosters were the only game in town, and didn’t have to prioritize serving the needs of customers. Now, customer churn is a critical concern. Companies didn’t need to care about the customer experience, loyalty, or churn prevention. If a customer left, there were five more to take his place. Now, it’s a different world. Markets have opened up to competition, and customer service advancements in other industries have elevated customer expectations for the hosting experience.
Who manages Customer Experience at your company? If no one, it’s time to assemble the team. Small to medium size enterprises can start with one or two people and build on it. Historically the basic functions of such team (let’s call it Customer Experience Management Division) would be cancellations handling. Customer churn indeed has a significant impact on customer lifetime value and the company’s bottom line. Therefore, you have no choice but to go to great lengths to keep your customers on board. Your CEM crew attempts to convince customers not to cancel by using retention offerings such as discounts, credits or free products. This reactive approach is not effective, since by the time customers call to cancel, they have made up their minds or signed with a competitor.
A more effective approach to improving customer retention is to predict customer churn by managing the customer experience throughout a customer’s lifecycle, with the goal of turning satisfied customers into loyal advocates. Consider the creation “Safety Anchors”
Safety Anchor #1: On-boarding Program
Engage with every single customer from the first day of hosting, ideally even before the account gets provisioned. Not only you can make sure customer ordered the correct account, communicate provisioning SLAs and reinforce the message “Welcome aboard Mister Customer! We are here for you”, but also start building that “one-on-one bridge of communication”. It’s all about making your clients feel as unique and important individuals.
Be careful with upselling and cross selling at this stage of interactions, however, the first call should be quick and effortless.
Safety Anchor #2: Loyalty Program
An engaging loyalty program is required to keep a certain level of attachment with the customer even when a company occasionally fails to deliver on its Customer Experience. There are four customer loyalty programs we can identify
Type A: Membership Program.
Membership programs are one of the best ways to keep customers coming back. Most programs provide special incentives to members as part of their membership.
Type B: Rewards Program.
Rewards programs provide gifts and perk that are “earned” according to the amount of business your customers do with you.
Type C: Create a Community.
Every human has a deep inner need to belong to a community. “Belonging” gives us security and helps us to understand our place in life.
Type D: Create Intertwined Business Processes.
This is not so much a traditional customer loyalty program…but, it’s the absolute best way that to guarantee that our customers will keep coming back. This method consists of positioning our business processes so deep into our client’s or customer’s business processes that it would lock them in.
Safety Anchor #3: Advocacy Program
Identify and encourage your best customers to be your Advocates. It’s all about enhancing your relationship with the most active and outspoken clients on the web, growing your viral marketing efforts and increasing sales.
Consider different advocacy membership levels based on the contribution rate, incentives to match those levels and contribution channels you wish to promote among your customer base.
For incentive you could offer free support, priority support, free hosting, managed services, etc. In addition your advocate could get priory notice about new promotions and discounts. You could also subscribe them to a monthly “Customer Spotlight” newsletter where you showcase your customers’ businesses. Furthermore imagine mentioning your advocates on your social media channels and sending them a special gift for their subscription anniversary every year. This I call the true “one-on-one” customer experience management.
With all these safety anchors in place, your Customer Support crew will be able to retain an increasing proportion of the customers. Each one of these levels must work in tandem to provide a strong network that cushions current customers and prevents them from falling through the cracks to competitors. Working together, safety anchors combine to strengthen the customer relationship over the long term.