There are three ways to grow your business. The first is to increase the number of your customers. The second is to increase the average transaction value per customer. The third is to increase your customers’ frequency of purchase.
If you’re like 90 percent entrepreneurs, you focus the most on the first option – acquiring new customers. For this, your sales team has to spend a lot of time prospecting, pitching, writing proposals, building trust, and trying to convert. It also means adding more staff and space, and advertising budgets.
All this turns into a huge cost. According to research, acquiring new customers is between 5-50 times more expensive than doing more business with customers who already trust you.
Existing customers give you better returns on investment – not to mention that you can acquire new customers at nominal costs through referrals.
However, most entrepreneurs ignore this avenue and focus too hard on new customers. That’s why they don’t get to know about losing a key customer until it’s too late. Have you experienced this too? Does losing important customers make you lose sleep?
Don’t worry. You don’t have to know about a dissatisfied customer only after he/she has stopped buying from you. There are certain telltale signs that your customers show when they’re unhappy. Once you can see these red flags, you can control the damage before it’s late. Here are five signs that your business could be losing key customers:
Your salespeople “know” when to contact customers
Ask most salespeople in the SME sector and they’ll say that they “just know” when to contact a customer. At best, they’ll make notes in their diaries (which they often forget to check).
But none of us is blessed with superhuman memory, especially in today’s distracted age. Without reminders and historical information about the customer, your salespeople will forget to contact a customer at the right time.
Your organization can track this information in a consolidated and usable manner through a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. Without it, you’re always shooting in the dark.
You get returned goods more than normal
The most common reasons for incorrect goods are wrong or defective items, wrong address, and incorrect mode of transport.
Lack of accurate information is often the cause. Either incorrect information gets passed from one department to another, or it gets diluted like Chinese Whispers. This is common in organizations which don’t have a systematic method to relay information and a recipe for disaster. It can become difficult to track without a CRM software to document the same.
Returned goods don’t just add to your operational costs, they also irritate customers, and irritated customers are most prone to switching to another service provider.
Your key customers are complaining
According to Pareto’s Law, 80 percent results occur due to 20 percent actions. Similarly, 80 percent of your business comes from 20 percent customers.
When these 20 percent customers start complaining, it means that your sales and/or operations team are missing a beat. Your customers might complain and get no response. Then they could get irate and complain to you, or voice their frustration on social media. If you don’t address issues quickly, your key customers won’t take long to switch to a competitor. Your customers could do something even worse than complaining – they could disappear from your radar.
Your key customers have stopped interacting with you
How many times have you remembered a customer who did a lot of business earlier but doesn’t interact with you anymore?
Such customers don’t have the time or patience to wait for issue resolutions again and again, nor do they have time to place orders with you if your salespeople don’t maintain relations with them. They’re looking for proactive service providers.
How can you track whether your customer currently engages with you or not? That’s where a CRM software comes in handy.
You do not know about changes in your customers’ functioning
A client approached us to deploy a CRM because they had just lost a big customer. This customer was an FMCG giant who ordered a lot from them. Suddenly the orders stopped. Our client didn’t contact them for two years. One day, they called their contacts, only to know that the entire process had changed. Purchases were done only from the Head Office.
When our client tried connected with the purchasing department, they got informed that they were no longer empanelled as preferred vendors.
If you don’t maintain healthy relations with your customers, you won’t get to know about changes in their functioning.
A business turns profitable when sales consistently exceed costs like purchase, marketing, and overheads. To generate more profit, it’s important for your business to maintain strong relations with customers. Strong relations will reduce the number of red flags and heartburns for you.
If you rely on data from CRM tools instead of relying on your mind, you’ll retain customers for the long-term and increase your organization’s productivity. A CRM tool doesn’t just help you maintain a customer database, it also provides you with the intelligence to generate more revenue, and it skyrockets your employee productivity. So, have you deployed a CRM software for your organization yet?
Limesh Parekh is CEO of Enjay IT Solutions Ltd.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)