Churn kills business.
A few years back I was part a global account team and we were failing with a Fortune 100 client. We tried everything: we looked at all of their business requirements and then went above and beyond. We proved ROI. We answered all the questions, we even flew out multiple times for extra meetings. And still, the customer left and switched service providers. They were not committed to us. We later learned, that while we did satisfy their needs, we didn't make it easy.
Losing partnerships and business relationships is expensive and hurts all sides. Finding a new vendor or supplier is hard work while gaining new clients takes time, and both sides must use tremendous amounts of resources.
The best way to prevent churn is to create loyalty. Obviously. But how do you create ultimate loyalty? That is the million dollar question.
There are many ways to look at loyalty, and every industry will have different metrics and values, yet there is one way that is very wrong.
It is counterintuitive for most business leaders -- you do not want to exceed your customer's expectations.
According to research performed by Matthew Dixon, Karen Freeman, and Nick Toman, from CEB/Gartner, they found that when trying to please a customer companies often focus on exceeding customer expectations by giving away free services, extending payment terms, offering free products, or refunding a customer - and the results are not what you would expect. The customers reported that their loyalty is only slightly higher than if the vendor would just meet or satisfy their needs, rather than trying to exceed them.
The extra effort is usually wasted.
Most sales and customer success leaders try so hard to keep customers satisfied, often by using the vague term: "exceeding expectations," but meeting expectations does not equal customer loyalty.
The experts from Gartner also found that when sales and customer success representatives focus on exceeding customer expectations they end up creating confusion and unnecessary expenses for both parties along with wasted effort and time.
What is the better way? According to Dixon, Freeman, and Toman, the only focus should be to: "Make it is easy."
Easy should mean different things in different industries. Yet, if you can answer these questions positively, you know you are on the right track.
- Is it easy to buy from you?
- Is it easy to solve problems with your team?
- Is it is easy to share information?
- Is it is easy to manage projects together?
Basically, does every interaction feel easy?
To truly make it easy, you need to be customer focused, you need to understand them, their needs, and their business environment. And more than just the knowledge, you have to care enough to change how you run your business so that the life of your customer is easier.
Making it easy is tangible. If your team is focusing every action they take on "making it easy", then the results will be a better experience for the client.
If you are reducing the effort your clients need to put forth to work with you, you will create true loyalty.
No one ever lost a loyal client. People want to do business with those who make their life easy. If you can make it easy for all users, especially decision makers to work with you, then you will be able to create stronger loyalty and reduce churn.