Customer satisfaction is the driving factor in your retention efforts. Since retained customers spend more money per sale, buy more frequently, refer others and cost less per sale, all evidence points towards the importance of keeping your customers happy. In a tight economy, there is constant pressure to grow and sell more. With this emphasis on increasing revenue, sometimes the fundamentals of building strong customer relationships are forgotten.
Email is one of the best ways to retain customers and increase customer satisfaction because it establishes personal, useful and timely communication. Marketers are starting to realize that when used correctly, email can save you time, money and most importantly, customers.
Here are some tips for getting started with your email program:
Tip #1: Personalization and customization are key
To use email to increase customer satisfaction, messages must be personal and targeted. True customer satisfaction occurs when the customer feels like you understand and anticipate their needs. Therefore, an email recipient won't feel special if you send them a generic message with content they have no interest in reading or products they have never considered buying. Email technology makes it easy to insert customized content and personalization elements that make the message relevant to their needs and interests.
Tip #2: Ideas for maximizing product use
A big part of customer satisfaction is customer success. You may provide the greatest product in the world with the best service in the industry, but if it doesn't work for the customer, they are not going to be happy. Consider starting an email newsletter to provide best practice advice and case studies to impart knowledge that will help customers accomplish their goals. Email also makes it easy for recipients to forward your message to a friend. Satisfied customers will forward your message, expanding your brand reach.
Tip #3: Follow-up on previous emails
Some of your customer service initiatives can be accomplished effectively through email. Consider sending follow-up to purchase or service emails. Ask if the product met expectations, if any problems were encountered with shipping, if customer service was helpful or any other information that can help you better serve their needs. To add additional personalization in the message, mention where the item was purchased (online or store location) or use the account representative's name.
Tip #4: Up-sell and cross-sell
Are your customers requesting promotions and offers? When using email to up-sell or cross-sell existing customers, mention a product that fits with previous purchases, or is a good fit with the interests expressed when they subscribed to your communications. For example, a company that runs online technical training for businesses notices that a customer has recently attended seminars on HTML and Adobe Photoshop. Their previous experience indicates an interest in graphical design and the web, so a tactical cross-sell is attempted. In their next e-mail campaign, this recipient receives information for classes on DreamWeaver and Adobe Illustrator. Use information learned through customer relationships to see increased sales and click-throughs. Recipients will appreciate these messages because they are relevant to their needs and interests.
For quick response or scheduled communications
Speed of campaign creation and delivery is a great benefit of e-mail marketing that can translate into customer satisfaction. Emails can be used to send time sensitive information that is important to convey to your customers. Consider sending service outage announcements or late breaking news via email, to avoid postal service delays and the expense of phone calls.
Campaigns can be configured to send weeks or months in advance, making it the perfect medium for scheduled communications such as service updates and renewals. For example, the office supply company may use e-mail to remind the office manager it is time to order supplies by providing a link to the correct products in the body of a message. A pharmaceutical company may send communications reminding drugstores it is time to reorder certain medications or relay new information on drug interactions. These communications are not only a convenience to your customers, but can be a revenue driving tool for your company.
Say hello every once in a while. Some products require very little support or advice, but that doesn't mean that you should communicate only at purchase time. Use email to send thank you messages and surveys. This will allow you to learn more about your audience, while establishing an open dialog and remaining top of mind.
Acquiring a customer costs more than retaining one, proving the importance of keeping your current customers happy. Email can facilitate this process by allowing you to deliver the right message, at the right time, to the right audience. If you have not already integrated email into your customer satisfaction initiative, give it a try. Your efforts are sure to pay off with repeat purchases, word of mouth recommendations and satisfied customers.
Tricia Robinson is VP, marketing and strategy for Premiere Global Services. Read her full bio.