Customer retention challenges in the Covid-19 crisis and best practices to get around them

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Customer retention challenges in the Covid-19 crisis and best practices to get around them

 

Lately, we have the feeling that no certainty is worth more. Mainly in sales! Have you also felt it?

No wonder, after all, we are really living in a very unusual situation, which required all companies to adapt, cut costs, and look for new solutions to their challenges.

For us in the commercial area, this comes with several challenges: decreased leads, increased cost of campaigns, drop in conversion rate. But it’s not just the numbers related to new businesses that have had a negative impact.

The cancellation fees are taken from the sleep of sales managers. Just when maintaining the customer base is so important to preserving cash flow!

If that’s your case, in this article we bring you some expert recommendations so that customer retention remains within the expected level for the sustainability of your business.

Customer retention has never been such a difficult goal to achieve

We know that the goals defined at the beginning of the year already needed to be revised in the first weeks of the pandemic. Now, months after social isolation began, most companies have gone through this planning update process.

Still, it is difficult to keep the retention rate as expected.

This is because we still know very little about the effects of the crisis, about the duration of social isolation recommendations, about the consolidation of a treatment for the new coronavirus.

So we’ve been living on a roller coaster, with weeks that look more promising for business, followed by weeks of falling expectations. A good example of this are cities where commerce was reopened, to be closed again soon – impacting companies in the sector.

Unpredictability, therefore, is the buzzword. And we will need to find the best way to deal with it, while making all the necessary adjustments to our routine to deal with the pandemic.

What can B2B companies do? Expert Best Practices for Customer Retention!

In these uncertain times, looking at your neighbor’s grass is the best thing to do. Not in the pejorative sense of the expression, but in the context of collaboration between companies from the same or different sectors so that together we can better face the crisis we are going through.

Implementing good practices, therefore, can be the guarantee of your business continuity. Get to know some of them for customer retention.

If it doesn’t already exist, create a Customer Success area

Customer Success is the area that can change the game when it comes to avoiding cancellations. If your company still does not have well-implemented processes with this focus, then it is high time to chase lost time.

And it is worth remembering that CS is an area whose responsibility goes far beyond good customer relationships. Its main objective is to guarantee the full use of the products or services. This increases the perceived value of what you sell and therefore directly contributes to retention.

Thinking about products and services that guarantee recurrence

Among the companies that suffered less from the crisis are those that have recurrence as a business model. Subscription models such as Software as a Service (SaaS) are already widespread.

But even if your company has a totally different business model, aren’t there opportunities to sell with a focus on recurrence?

Many companies are exploring these possibilities, in very different ways, even before the crisis. A good example is Brastemp, which not only sells water filters, but also started operating with a subscription model (rent) for this type of product.

Make churn rate projections by the end of the year

We talked earlier about the importance of revising the planning, since what was defined at the beginning of the year makes little sense.

In this process, it is necessary to face that the crisis will be long – and that cancellations will unfold at least until the end of the year. Even if the social isolation ends in the coming weeks, the impacts on the economy are severe and are still happening in a chain.

Therefore, consider that the loss of customers will continue to happen and that, therefore, your strategies need to go beyond the “putting out fire” of these last few months.

Have transparency in communication with customers

An important factor in customer relations in difficult times is easy and transparent communication. Facilitated in the sense of being really available in the service channels (including their expansion, especially online).

And, transparent, we don’t even need to say. In a time of so much stress for everyone, communicating any failure or problem before it reaches the customer ensures that there is response time and adaptation, in addition to preserving trust in your company.

Keep the team engaged

The sales team is the company’s front line in customer relations and, therefore, plays a fundamental role in building an image about the organization.

The point is that in these moments of crisis we are all more anxious, irritated, distracted… In other words, it is normal for things to get a little out of your control with regard to the standard of care.

And how to prevent this from being a problem? Work the team motivation!

More than ever, as a manager you will need to be a sales leader and coach. This means helping salespeople deal with their emotional challenges, noticing when it’s time to encourage some kind of health care, and empathizing with responding to situations.

It is also necessary to know your team very well to understand what can motivate them – such as setting goals and commissions, sales campaigns, among others.

Monitor your different customer profiles

Just as it is necessary to individually monitor each member of the sales team, it is recommended to do the same with customers. In this way, it will be possible to predict when a cancellation might happen and, therefore, help with financial predictability.

The ideal is to separate current customers into clusters and, for each one, design specific strategies that can impact retention. They can be divided into:

  • Customers with late payments;
  • Customers close to the end of the contract;
  • New customers, not yet loyal;
  • Customers who are brand promoters;
  • Customers with a high level of support requests or complaints.

These are just a few examples for which you can define specific actions that improve the perceived value of your product or service.

Produce content that helps deal with the moment

We’ve known for some time that producing relevant content contributes to lead generation and nurture. But it’s also a powerful customer retention strategy.

Create informative and useful content for your customers (including exclusive channels for them) and share your company’s best practices and knowledge. This can happen through articles, guides, tutorials, webinars, email marketing, among other formats.

Look at the data. Every day!

We couldn’t finish this article without talking about them, the data!

As much as we are suffering each time we need to look at the sales results, these analyzes will show where the bottlenecks are for closing, which customer profile has the most canceled contract and what behavior before this cancellation is materialize.

With the help of your CRM system, make daily analysis of the team and sales performance and try to go beyond what you already monitor to discover what might be hidden behind the cancellation rate.

Don’t forget to look to the future, even if it’s uncertain

Many of the best practices we list here for customer retention are related to an important behavior: facing this crisis head-on and transforming what you need in the company.

We spent a few weeks looking for short-term solutions, but it’s time to understand that practices need to be adopted with a focus on the present, but also on the future.

Yes, it is too early to implement any solution thinking of it as definitive. However, it is already possible to know what is essential for a Sales or Customer Success area to run well.

Even if the future is still uncertain, don’t forget that you need to get there as best you can to recover post-crisis results!

 

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