Experts discuss the art of acquiring and retaining customers

Shaun H. Ruff

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Even after a sale is confirmed, a customer remains a customer. Retaining customers is essential for business success.

It’s crucial to make sure that everyone feels appreciated as a buyer. How do you make your customer feel valued?

In today’s Let’s Talk, our experts go over some advice for maximising the effectiveness of your customer appreciation approach in 2022. We are aware that you value your customers because, after all, they are the cornerstone of your business.

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Table of Contents

Sharryn Napier, Vice President APAC, GitHub

Sharryn-Napier
Sharryn Napier, Vice President APAC, GitHub

“From a tech perspective, exceptional customer service always starts by understanding what your customer is actually trying to achieve beyond the technology being implemented. This could be faster growth, new market penetration, scaling globally, employee retention and anything in between.

“Once this goal has been identified, go on a journey to define what ‘success’ looks like for everyone. Rather than focus on selling products, collaborate with your customer on a strategy that’s rooted in real and meaningful business outcomes.

“Lastly, transparency, authenticity, and a genuine connection are your guiding principles and will certainly help establish your organisation as a customer-first entity. It’s often overlooked but spend time laughing with your customer. There are tough times with any kind of business transformation, so a real connection goes a long way and makes challenges far easier to navigate.”

Christa Quarles, CEO, Corel Corporation

Christa Quarles
Christa Quarles, CEO, Corel Corporation

“Companies thrive thanks to repeat customers. Whether you’re selling a product or a service, customer retention can be the difference between success and failure. Maximizing your customer-lifetime value is vital for long-term revenue. And you can only achieve this by putting your customer at the centre of everything you do.

“Subscription models are an ideal way for companies to make this happen. When customers are on to a good thing, they stick with it – and subscription services are a good thing. First, your users benefit from lower upfront costs that reduce the barriers to purchase. But more importantly, to succeed as a subscription business, vendors need to deliver ongoing value and exceptional experiences at every touchpoint. If the customer is making the decision to renew on a monthly or yearly basis, the onus is on you to know what they want and ensure you deliver it.

“When customer retention drives your decision making, you’re on a constant quest to nurture your relationships by delivering true and meaningful value. And this will ultimately result in success for your users and your company.”

Sam Kothari, Head of Growth ANZ, Airwallex

Sam-Kothari
Sam Kothari, Head of Growth ANZ, Airwallex

“In theory, building strong customer relationships is simple; take the time to deeply understand your customer’s needs, and then deliver on them quickly and efficiently.

“But here’s the challenge. How do you retain customers with limited time, resources and budget?

  • Large-scale events – while popular – aren’t the only way to create meaningful engagement opportunities with customers. For example, you can meet your customers for coffee, invite them to work from your offices or organise a small-scale catch-up to share ideas, challenges and opportunities for growth.
  • The current economic environment is creating new budgetary and growth concerns for some businesses. Where possible, check in with your customers to ensure they feel supported. Sometimes all people need is a friendly ear.
  • While obvious, customers must remain front-of-mind across your business. This can become harder as you grow, so engagement must become a conscious effort. For example, organise for employees or leaders (who may not be customer-facing) to listen in on customer calls regularly.”

Jason VandeBoom, Founder and CEO, ActiveCampaign

Jason-VandeBoom
Jason VandeBoom, Founder and CEO, ActiveCampaign

“This seems simple but the best way to make your customers feel loved is by listening to their feedback, explaining how you will take action on their feedback, and communicating effectively once that feedback has been fully incorporated into your product or service. Feedback from customers who give you a 3 rating is actually much more helpful than from customers who give you a 5 because there’s more actionable feedback on how you can better support them.

“With that feedback, you can then start to make necessary changes to increase customer satisfaction.  At ActiveCampaign, we thrive on a continuous loop of customer feedback to inform future iterations of our technology.

“Additionally, sharing your customers’ success stories on social media and your website is a great way to show customer love. We really enjoy sharing how successful our customers have been in growing their businesses, sometimes by more than 300%.  Be sure to celebrate your customers’ successes with them and continue to ask how you can continue to help them be successful.”

Adrian Ward, Service Director ANZ, ADP

Adrian-Ward
Adrian Ward, Service Director ANZ, ADP

“People are the start and end of a business, and often what business’ customers value most can be the time you can give them when they least expect it. I’ve found that the act of customer service comes down to three core principles:

  • Know your customer
  • Make their life easier
  • Value their time

“At ADP we provide customers with an opportunity to share feedback after any interaction to ensure their experience meets their expectations. It helps us to understand the customer better and can often assist in improving our service.

“While products and services are getting more and more automated, it’s vital for your business to remain human-centred. Providing value at every customer interaction will do wonders to make them feel loved – and in turn, love your business.”

David Weinberger, Head of Growth Marketing, Metigy

David Weinberger
David Weinberger, Head of Growth Marketing, Metigy

“With social media and digitisation contributing to the expectation that businesses are ‘always on’, it’s important to try deliver a high standard of personalised communication with customers at all times, or risk losing out to competitors.

“Artificial intelligence (AI) can be a savvy business’ secret weapon to build customer relationships. Its ability to sift and sort customer data rapidly means businesses can use these insights to drive greater levels of personalisation, helping customers feel seen and appreciated.

“AI-enabled chatbots can also add an extra touchpoint for customers to interact with at times that suit them. With customers increasingly interacting with businesses through social media, having chatbots on your socials is a great way to minimise friction, especially if this is where you’re handling most of your customer engagement. Gone are the days of business hours. With AI, businesses can be always on, solving for the customer 24×7.

“These simple (and automated) acts of customer service made possible through AI make customers feel valued and appreciated while freeing up time for the business to focus on growth.”

Christian Lucarelli, Vice President, Sales APAC, Nintex

Christian-Lucarelli
Christian Lucarelli, Vice President, Sales APAC, Nintex

“Prioritise connection. With the current prevalence of talent shortages and employee churn, many businesses are faced with maintaining customer service levels while having fewer resources at hand. In addition, customers increasingly have raised expectations that interactions with a business will be seamless and technologically evolved, meeting—at a minimum—the instant gratification standards of today’s society. Organisations can keep pace with these demands by relying on the speed and accuracy delivered by automation solutions. Since not all business processes are ripe for automation, a critical step is to have clear visibility of what they look like before diving in. By letting machines take care of the day-to-day, efficiently executing mundane, repetitive tasks, teams are freed up to focus on activities that require human intervention, forging human connections and ultimately delivering interactions that delight customers.”

Mark Broom, Head of Customer Retention, AIA Australia

Mark-Broom
Mark Broom, Head of Customer Retention, AIA Australia

“At AIA Australia, we’re committed to making a difference in our customers’ lives.

“Through our Voice of Customer surveys, we engage with our customers to understand their needs and expectations. Using insights from these surveys and from our market-leading digital health and wellbeing program Vitality, we can offer products and propositions that truly make a difference.

“We connect, engage and develop rapport with our customers by delivering personalised experiences and communications, including an individualised welcome video.

“Our communications are also tested with customers to ensure we are connecting with them in the right way. When we receive feedback, we respond with proactive, meaningful solutions. We’re here to partner with our customers through life, and especially during their times of need. Accordingly, we’ve received positive feedback about our natural disaster support packages and our COVID-19 response.”

Des Hang, Co-founder and CEO, Carbar

Des-Hang
Des Hang, Co-founder and CEO, Carbar

“There is such a thing as over-servicing your customers. There’s a balance in customer retention around making them feel appreciated through loyalty programs and adding value, but also not spamming them or soaking up their time. This ultimately comes down to product design. The best products are ones that are or feel low touch. That doesn’t require high levels of attention or effort from customers.

“That said when there is an issue you need to act on it with urgency and efficiency. It’s these moments that ultimately define your relationship with your customers. A lot of goodwill can be undone quickly if you fail to respond in a manner that satisfies your customer and shows that you care.”

Hayley Fisher, Country Manager ANZ, Adyen

Hayley-Fisher
Hayley Fisher, Country Manager ANZ, Adyen

“Every customer wants to feel special, whether they’re shopping online, in-store and in-app. With our overwhelming preference for the in-store experience (73 per cent, higher than any other market surveyed), it’s clear Australians value connection: Two-thirds will drop a retailer after a bad experience.

“While it can seem challenging to make customers feel loved as businesses scale and adopt new channels, a well-connected backend system can go a long way. One often-overlooked factor is the checkout flow.

“Make checkout seamless and painless – not too many steps and redirects, no taking out cards again for repeat customers. Link payments to your loyalty programme – every payment is an insight, and this makes it easier for you to recognise and customise special rewards for each customer. And don’t forget the follow-through – a little customised note saying ‘we noticed you like all things X, so here’s a little something for you.’ “

Paul Soong, Regional Director ANZ, E2open

Paul Soong
Paul Soong, Regional Director ANZ, E2open

“It’s a tough period for the retail industry, as ongoing supply uncertainty and logistics disruptions continue, along with shifting consumer demands, inflation, and the surge in cost of living. Couple this with the fact that the increase in cost of sales also affects sales, and consumers’ “I want it now” mentality, businesses are constantly being challenged to keep their customers satisfied and stay afloat.

“Organisations need real-time visibility over their logistics network to proactively manage supply chain disruptions, make informed supply chain decisions using data, while ensuring inventory availability to keep their customers happy, and loyal. Businesses should also have a Plan B in place for inventory replenishment and not just rely solely on one source or partner, to avoid a situation of ‘we’re out of stock.

“For example, customers now expect everything to be connected, all the time. Online and instore shopping must not only be fast, efficient, and easy, but provide a good shopping experience too. A high level of frustration sometimes occurs when a customer spends a period of time placing the order, only to find out item is out of stock at checkout. Having full visibility across the network and inventory levels will ensure customer happiness throughout their shopping journey.

“A great shopping experience should not end once a purchase is made. Businesses can enhance the post-purchase experience through personalisation, whether it’s a personalised email thanking them for their purchase and offering a discount code, remembering the customers preferences for their next order, or providing customers with realistic delivery times based on their location and the supply of goods. These actions may seem small, but it will help the customer feel special, and in turn, loved.”

Justin Dery, CEO APAC, Doddle

Justin-Dery
Justin Dery, CEO APAC, Doddle

“With inflation on the rise and supply chain issues continuing, loyal shoppers are becoming hesitant buyers. Now more than ever, retailers cannot acquire a customer and assume their loyalty – they must keep winning them again for every purchase, and executing consistently.

“Delivery is one of the most important aspects of the ecommerce experience, and mistakes here can be very significant. 84% of shoppers say they won’t return to a retailer after a bad delivery experience, and one of the most common and frustrating experiences is a missed delivery. Ensuring delivery goes smoothly at the first time of asking should be fundamental to customer retention and loyalty.

“One simple way to do this is to offer shoppers local pick-up and drop-off locations at the checkout. These alternatives to home delivery allow customers to collect or return their parcels in convenient locations like local supermarkets or petrol stations, where deliveries have a much higher first-time success rate.

“That means shoppers get a delivery experience that works on their terms, where they can pick up a parcel when it’s convenient for them – and it means that retailers don’t bear the costs of failed deliveries.”

Kristen Pimpini, Regional Vice President ANZ, Twilio

Kristen-Pimpini
Kristen Pimpini, Regional Vice President ANZ, Twilio

“Personalisation has emerged as one of the most important aspects of delivering a competitive brand experience that will attract customers and create brand loyalty. According to recent Twilio research, nearly half of consumers saying they’ll stop using a brand if it doesn’t personalise their experience. To create customer experiences that feel personal consistently and regardless of channel, it’s crucial for businesses to master all four components of personalisation:

  • Addressing the customer by name – Everyone in the business should know the customer’s name and use it, whether they’re communicating in real life or through digital channels. Even better, ask customers how they would like to be addressed and make that the default.
  • Inferring and anticipating their needs— In the digital world, we have the ability to make assumptions of an individual’s preferences and expectations based on a combination of first-hand information and external, third-party data. Consolidating all channels of communication into a single platform makes gathering and managing these insights far easier and more effective.
  • Testing that understanding – Put that understanding of your customer’s preferences or priorities to the test, to avoid interactions that feel invasive or overly personal. More importantly, testing put customers in charge of determining how interactions, conversations, and transactions unfold. Testing assumptions should be an ongoing effort, across any communication channel and every interaction.
  • Remembering across the whole business – A customer’s preferences and priorities are a foundation of personalisation. It’s even more important in the digital world, where many different employees are involved in supporting their journey. People who have interacted with a customer personally should extend that memory to any other person in the business to ensure continuity of a great customer experience.”

Danny Lessem, CEO, ELMO Software

Danny-Lessem
Danny Lessem, CEO, ELMO Software

“Keeping customers happy and engaged with your business doesn’t need to be an overly-engineered process. At the heart of it, the crucial question to ask yourself is, ‘how am I adding value to my customers?’

“Just like you, your customers are time-poor, resource-poor and eager to have problems solved for them. When you’re engaging with customers it pays to consider how your service or product will make their life easier.

“Similarly, if you’re sharing a report, content or new information with existing customers make sure it is relevant to their business. The ‘one size fits all’ approach doesn’t cut it in this day and age and will likely make your customers feel that you don’t understand them or their business.

“Most importantly, partner with your customers to work together on your growth journey. Your customers are invaluable resources that can help shape the development of your solution. If you listen to them they will tell you exactly what they need and how you and your organisation can help them plug that gap.”

Lindsay Brown, Vice President and General Manager of APJ, GoTo

Lindsay-Brown
Lindsay Brown, Vice President and General Manager of APJ, GoTo

“Customers must be at the heart of every business so ensuring they feel connected and appreciated is key for organisations. For businesses to successfully connect with their customers and provide a quality seamless experience, they should consider implementing a consolidated contact centre solution.

“GoTo’s recent study found that 82 per cent of ANZ businesses have the objective of simplifying the support for their customers. By implementing a contact centre solution, businesses are able to easily and efficiently keep in touch with their customers, as calls and requests can be responded to quickly, making customers feel appreciated and connected. Consolidated solutions also simplify the process for customers to reach out – whether it is via the phone, online or through social, removing friction to purchase or to resolve support issues, thereby optimising revenue generation and increasing customer satisfaction.

“When a customer feels connected to a business, the bond will ensure that they keep returning, which in turn improves customer retention for the business. Consolidated contact centre solutions provide an easy and well-managed gateway for businesses to unify the customer communication channels, so they can more effectively connect and build relationships with their customers.”

Ben Pluznyk, Director and Country Manager ANZ, Freshworks

Ben-Pluznyk
Ben Pluznyk, Director and Country Manager ANZ, Freshworks

“Personalisation is the holy grail for exceptional customer experience (CX). Attracting and retaining customers in today’s competitive environment is no small feat — companies that ignore the importance of providing seamless, effective CX, will lose out to competition who understand that the customer values ‘good’ service.

“Embarking on digital transformation should take a mobile-first approach. Constant upgrades to mobile devices and apps and advances in machine learning, automation and artificial intelligence mean customers expect everything instantly. It is imperative to invest in quality CRM software that enables you to deep dive into customer pools and learn the nuances of their needs. After all, customers expect you to know who they are, what they like, and what they don’t like. Take the time to ensure AI and chatbots are being used to their fullest potential. But most importantly, put the customer at the heart of all decisions and serve them in the channel of their choice.

“Businesses seeking to delight their customers will benefit from implementing a seamless omnichannel strategy, focusing on the digital-first consumer while remaining cognizant of the increasing need for personal interactions. Customers feel appreciated when you understand them and expect this throughout the entire lifecycle — no matter what channel the interaction takes place on.”

Daniel Ng, APAC VP of Marketing, Neo4j

Daniel Ng, APAC VP of Marketing, Neo4j

“Creating meaningful and positive customer experiences has never been more important. In today’s digital world, where vast repositories of data on consumers, products and purchases are available to organisations, the ability to gain greater insights to the customer’s psyche, needs and preferences can greatly help organisations retain and build customer loyalty.

“Harnessing connected data gives you a 360 view of the customer. It enables you to anticipate customer preferences, understand their sentiments, their likes and dislikes to refine your approach and better meet their needs.

“Customer feedback is beneficial to building customer engagement as it shows the customer that you value how they feel about your products and services. Be mindful and sensitive to customer complaints and take the time to find out the reasons why the customer is not satisfied and how can you adjust to turn things around. This is a good way to further build on the bond that you have with the customer, leading to better customer retention.”

James Harvey, Head of Customer Experience, Zepto

James-Harvey
James Harvey, Head of Customer Experience, Zepto

“Customers feel appreciated when businesses put them at the very centre of their relationship. Businesses have a pretty good grasp these days of why being customer-centric is vital, but there’s one customer experience lever that is frequently overlooked by many: payments. The payment experience plays a huge role in overall customer experience, and if you can make that process as convenient, efficient, trusted, transparent, fast and almost imperceptible as possible, your business has a huge advantage.

“Customers tell us the cleanest, truest way to transact in this way is with their own money – not credit – moved seamlessly and directly from their own bank account in real-time. When done seamlessly, and the customer is informed at all the right moments, a huge amount of trust is built. Funds flow freely and settle almost instantly, enabling the most efficient delivery of products and services possible. This means the experience is optimised, brand trust is built, and loyalty deepens for both the merchant and customer.”

Shannon Ingrey, Vice President & General Manager APAC, BigCommerce

Shannon-Ingrey
Shannon Ingrey, Vice President & General Manager APAC, BigCommerce

“Having a customer retention strategy is just as  – if not more – important as gaining new customers. Retention begins with satisfying a customer’s needs, offering care, and cultivating the relationship. It is key to driving sales and creates the potential for first-time customers to become lifelong customers, resulting in a higher lifetime value to the business.

“For retailers and merchants, a loyalty program rewards frequent customers and may offer access to exclusive deals, sales or a sneak-peek into new offerings coming up. Giving these customers the inside scoop on upcoming products and deals makes them feel appreciated. These unique experiences can be the point of difference that gets them returning for more purchases. In fact, 40% of consumers have chosen one retailer over another because of a loyalty program offering. Additionally, providing services like free shipping is highly desired, and can be what makes a first-time customer a repeat customer.

“Another way to retain customers is by offering a repeat customer discount option to make them feel valued and incentivise them to make additional purchases. Having a unique code can help track how responsive new customers are to becoming frequent shoppers, and also offer data-backed insight on how retailers and merchants can tweak marketing campaigns to better address their needs in the future.”

Marco Zande, Marketing and Digital Comms Executive, WLTH

Marco-Zande
Marco Zande, Marketing and Digital Comms Executive, WLTH

“It’s the little things that make your customers feel loved. The way you greet them when they come into your office, the way you remember their names, and the way you go out of your way to help them find what they’re looking for.

“These small gestures show your customers that you care about them and appreciate their business. And when your customers feel loved, they’re more likely to stick around.

“For us at WLTH, we aim to be as responsive and available as possible to our customers. We like to make our clients know that we are always a phone call or an email away, and we are ready to answer any questions about the home loan process.

“Next, we strive to celebrate every success with our customers. Throughout the entire loan process communicating every win matters, from lodgement, a higher than expected house valuation to receiving unconditional approval for their loan settlement.

“Show genuine appreciation. Make sure to thank your customers for their business and take the time to say something special about them. This will go a long way in keeping them happy and loyal.”

Anurag Vasisth, group chief executive officer, Loyalty Now

Anurag-Vasisth
Anurag Vasisth, group chief executive officer, Loyalty Now

“The growing cost of fuel and lettuce is indicative of the ever-rising cost of living. Recent data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows all living cost indexes have risen between 2.6 per cent and 3.4 per cent over the past 12 months. As a result, consumers are feeling the pinch and looking for ways to cut costs and save.

“Card-linked loyalty programs are one way that retailers can deliver greater cost savings to consumers. By leveraging big data and delivering hyper-personalised experiences, businesses can help consumers access discounts or relevant value-add promotions, letting them save significant amounts of money on necessities. For budget-conscious shoppers, having easy access to discounts lets them keep spending low, especially at such a crucial time. Savvy retailers can harness the power of secure, anonymous, and consensual access to customer data to personalise promotions and offers that appeal to individual shoppers based on their shopping habits and behaviours.”

Tanya Green, Chief Customer Officer, Till Payments

Tanya-Green
Tanya Green, Chief Customer Officer, Till Payments

“Demonstrate a genuine interest in learning about your customers – their needs, the problems they face, and the goals they hope to achieve. Once you’ve armed yourself with this invaluable knowledge, set out to create and provide a simple and seamless solution that addresses all of these concerns.

“And don’t stop there. The after-sales experience should be just as memorable as the initial purchase phase. Follow a high-touch customer service approach and identify how you can differentiate yourself from your competitors. Create a meaningful commitment based on your learnings, then follow through on that promise. This will help you to nurture an ongoing relationship with your customer that adds value and builds loyalty.”

Ben Lipschitz, CEO and Co-Founder, FoodByUs

Ben-Lipschitz
Ben Lipschitz, CEO and Co-Founder, FoodByUs

“It’s easy to slip into the habit of putting your ideas first and forgetting the needs of your customer.  As the co-founder of a high-growth, tech startup, my experience in customer retention and growth has been to put the customer first, not the technology, when it comes to product development. At FoodByUs we started out as a ‘curated marketplace’ of hospitality suppliers for thousands of restaurants, cafes and caterers, but we soon realised through speaking to our customers that they wanted to freely upload their own suppliers, too. We introduced a new feature that allowed them to do that and in doing so our supplier database grew by over 600 per cent almost overnight. The lesson here is that even if you’re a market leader in your space, to remain truly useful and retain customers, your tech always has to adapt and meet their needs.”

Adam Joy, CEO, Office Brands

Adam-Joy
Adam Joy, CEO, Office Brands

“Customer loyalty has taken on new meaning in the wake of the new normal. Personalisation is the key to creating a great customer experience, but the days when adding a customer’s name to an email subject line was considered enough effort have long gone. Today’s customers expect more – and you need to give them what they crave.

“Customers are not looking for ‘buy six get one free’ general loyalty cards or offers, they are after hyper-personalisation. This involves the use of vast troves of customer data and artificial intelligence (AI) to deliver relevant content and messaging to each individual customer.

“For example, tailor your offerings to a legal firm to include legal tape, shredding services and laminators; and don’t offer a recyclable product to an environmentally conscious customer.

“Obtaining this data makes it possible to fine-tune your offerings to your customers for relevance, to maximise consumer response. This kind of deeper understanding of a customer’s intentions allows a brand to be in the right place at the right time – delivering the right products and services at the perfect point in the customer journey.

“When it comes to appreciating your customer, it’s all about delighting them. If they purchase something from your range that contributes to a charity, drop them a thank you note sharing which charity they have assisted, or find a free government service like a carbon audit to help them reduce their carbon footprint.

“Many of our members are offering value-added services to their customers to ensure they don’t need to find alternate suppliers and everything can be ordered on the one invoice. This group buying power means the price stays competitive and everything can all be ordered simply on our eCommerce platform and on one invoice, which keeps the customer coming back.”

Jason du Preez, SVP APAC, SugarCRM

Jason-du-Preez
Jason du Preez, SVP APAC, SugarCRM

“Knowing your customer is key to making them feel valued, and special and delivering an outstanding brand experience. The more you know about your customers, the easier it is to create a high-definition customer experience (HD-CX) across marketing, sales, and service. Understanding your customer comes from having access to the right information at the right time. With marketplaces more competitive than ever, customers are in the driver’s seat, not a business.

“When businesses are armed with customer data that is meaningful and accessible, you can change the nature of your interactions from reacting to your customer’s requests to anticipating what they need next and personalising interactions and offers. A unified CRM that connects data across a network of stores or multiple standalone applications and systems, ensures the customer has a consistent experience regardless of which store in your network they visit or online sales channels.”

Mark Allen, CEO and founder, Patch

Mark-Allen
Mark Allen, CEO and founder, Patch

“People are drawn to the simplicity so if you can reduce a complex task you’re making their lives easier. It starts with how they interact with your business when you onboard them. A happy customer that has a positive experience from the get go is more likely to stick around.

“But it’s important to reduce any barriers if they need to tell you that you’re not doing a good job. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to reach out to a company you’re having difficulties with only to find a non-responsive chat window, or hoops you have to jump through to lodge a support ticket. Having bad communication is a fast track to a rage quit by a customer so make it easy and they’re more likely to feel appreciated.

“Personalisation is a no brainer when you’re thinking of ways to create impact with your customers. But it’s important to bake that into every part of your business’s touchpoints to drive long-term engagement. There’s no shortage of digital tools that allow you to add personalisation to your offerings and delight your customers with Google, IBM and Adobe leading the way.

“Ultimately it’s the human touch that will help you retain your customers and make them feel appreciated. Nothing beats a phone call or personal email and the data you can gather about how they’re experiencing your brand is invaluable.”

Carl Warwick, Regional Sales Director APAC and Japan, BillingPlatform

Carl-Warwick
Carl Warwick, Regional Sales Director APAC and Japan, BillingPlatform

“Think about your customer interactions. No doubt, you’re continually searching for ways to keep them happy, engaged and returning to your business. But after the initial sale when interactions are minimal and billing is automatic – how do you keep B2B and B2C customers feeling content?

“Often, a bill or invoice will be the only touchpoint your customer has with your business on a recurring basis. Removing the friction from the billing and payments process minimises and reduces customer churn. However, the digitisation of consumer payments has raised the bar for B2B customer expectations. They expect the same secure and efficient experience that consumers have.

“To achieve a smoother payment process for B2B and B2C, consider incorporating emerging technologies like AI, APIs and the cloud, combined with advances in payment infrastructure and regulatory initiatives.

“A billing and payment solution that offers transparency and understands customer preferences will make your customer feel loved.”

Marcus McNamara, Head of APAC, Sana Commerce

Marcus-McNamara
Marcus McNamara, Head of APAC, Sana Commerce

“In the B2B world, customer retention is imperative to sustain growth and achieve industry leadership. Customer personalisation is one of the key strategies that can go about helping you achieve this. So how do you translate the type of interaction and experience a loyal customer might receive on a sales call online?

“You can do so by showing them relevant information, rewarding them with loyalty programmes, and ensuring they’re provided updates right up till their order gets delivered. An integrated e-commerce solution does most of the grunt work for you, syncing the information you already have on your customers within your ERP to your webshop for a seamless experience.

“You’ll be left with more time for more meaningful interactions with your customers, while they feel no less personally catered to!”

Mark Fazackerley, Regional Vice President ANZ, Talend

Mark-Fazackerley
Mark Fazackerley, Regional Vice President ANZ, Talend

“Data is the lifeblood of every successful business — but you can’t get the quality analytics and business value your company needs without a solid foundation for healthy data. And the same goes for the customer 360 initiatives, which promise significant value across all stages of the customer journey, including customer retention through a more personalised customer experience.

“The companies who thrive will be the ones who adopt a holistic perspective that permeates their culture and treat data as a long-term strategic asset that underpins every business decision. Ensuring all customers’ data is protected and compliant with data privacy is also part of a data environment that must be implemented. They will devote resources to ensuring that everyone can access the information they need, when they need it, and use it without questioning its validity — and measure their progress towards that goal.

“Realising a high level of customer retention requires changing how we think about customer data. In short, healthy businesses will be the ones that prioritise data health.”

James Campbell, Regional manager ANZ, SnapLogic

James-Campbell
James Campbell, Regional manager ANZ, SnapLogic

“We probably all know the difference between customer satisfaction and customer delight. Customer satisfaction is all about meeting customer expectations while customer delight hinges on exceeding their expectations.

“Where the ‘love’ comes in is that next level. It’s about listening to our customers, problem-solving together, being transparent and ultimately, helping their business grow in new and innovative ways.

“Above all, though, forming these ‘bonds of love and respect’ comes down to recognising customers as individuals and connecting with them as humans. At the end of the day, customers want their voices to be heard, they want to be validated, and they want to know you care about their problems.

“It’s these little things that pay off big when it comes to customer love and retention.”

Alex Pasminka, CMO, Shift

Alex-Pasminka
Alex Pasminka, CMO, Shift

“When it comes to retention and customer happiness, making your interactions as frictionless and simple as possible needs to be your unwavering focus. If your customer interactions are mainly online, this means knowing that your online interactions area investment in retention and revenue. If they evolve with your customers and their needs, your customer will want to stay on the journey with you.

“Simple is complex. Put in the hard yards behind the scenes so the customer’s time thinking about how to interact with you is minimised. We’ve found that as we’ve evolved our online platforms for merchants and their customers, our online interactions with them have increased.

“For customers who prefer direct contact with our team, our team members are business experts, so in the precious time that customers spend talking with us, instead of running their business, they feel understood.

“A simple, frictionless customer experience is the best kind of marketing any business can have.”

Rohan-Langdon
Rohan Langdon, Area Vice President ANZ, ExtraHop

“Businesses need to be focused on the entire customer lifecycle with a lens toward outcomes – how they can drive the most impactful outcomes for their customers.  One way to do this is by looking beyond the pre-sale and deal close period to really focus on staying connected post-sale. For example, our local customer success team holds office hours so customers can hop on and ask any questions they might have, get an update on what we’re working on, or simply share a use case story. Regular touchpoints like these can help customers understand your commitment to them and their success.  Obviously, hold regular business review sessions, but  informal opportunities increasingly make it really easy for customers to be connected to and love your business.”

Joe Mastroianni, National Commerical Manager, Katoomba Foods

Joe-Mastroianni
Joe Mastroianni, National Commerical Manager, Katoomba Foods

“The key to retaining customers is for a business to reinvent their offer and services after listening to feedback consistently.

“Customers feel appreciated if you make changes based on what they tell you,” he said. “Many companies are not agile enough to change their offering or are too late. Our business has always tried to stay as engaged as possible with our customers and trade partners to understand their evolving requirements.

“For instance, our popular Katoomba Roti Breads were only available in a 20 or 30-pack. After a recent collaboration with our trade partner and key feedback received, we developed a handy six-pack size, an additional offer for customers who desire a smaller format or looking for an affordable one-meal usage solution.

“Our customers are also well-travelled and willing to explore new cuisines, while television shows such as MasterChef have created a demand for different cuisines. So based on that, we are on a mission to let customers know our Roti breads can replace puff pastry, and we used it in both sweet and savoury dishes – not just as an accompaniment to a curry.

“Our strength is our experience and reputation of building strong partnerships with customers through our expertise, high-quality standards and a global supply network; sourcing the world for key ingredients and product offers.”

Paul Hadida, General Manager APAC, SevenRooms

Paul-Hadida
Paul Hadida, General Manager APAC, SevenRooms

“Personalisation, not one-size-fits-all, is the key to customer retention today. When your customers feel understood and, as a result, valued, their affinity to a business grows. To incentivise loyalty, businesses must leverage approved customer data and turn the insights it provides into personalised strategies based on an individual’s habits and preferences.

“Take the hospitality industry, for example. Through customer data collected based on previous visits or orders, a venue can identify a customers’ spending patterns, favourite dishes, online reviewing profile, allergies and birthdays or anniversaries. With that data, a business can identify what deals and dishes to promote based on past orders, offer incentives if they leave a review and even send a complimentary offer to celebrate their birthday.

“The same principle applies to almost any industry. Amazon providing tailored product listings and Spotify suggesting songs are excellent examples of brands making the experience hyper-personalised through data. This level of personalisation is crucial for retention today. By focusing on retention, you’re providing your customers with the meaningful experiences they remember and, crucially, recommend – ultimately aiding customer acquisition, too.”

Terri Martin, General Manager East Coast, The Marketing Room

Terri-Martin
Terri Martin, General Manager East Coast, The Marketing Room

“We all know it’s cheaper to retain clients than it is to acquire them, but we forget the simple things we can do to make our clients feel important and ensure they are loyal to our business. Working in the B2B space, here are some of the ways I have maintained incredible relationships with my clients over the years:

The obvious ones:

  • Send them something on their birthday
  • Send them flowers if they refer you business
  • Take them out to lunch or coffee regularly

Not so obvious ones:

  • Send them articles or information you come across that may relate to their business or their lives
  • Invite them to industry events as your plus one
  • Introduce them to people or businesses that would benefit them/their business
  • Ask them to mentor your staff or contacts
  • Promote their business through your LinkedIn posts
  • Comment on or repost their LinkedIn posts – look to be an active supporter of their success
  • Ask them to contribute to articles or blogs you write
  • Ask them for referral quotes, comments, case studies or videos to review your business”

Hope Powers, Vice President ANZ, Dynatrace

Hope-Powers
Hope Powers, Vice President ANZ, Dynatrace

“We’re in an era where, thanks to technology, social media, mobility and the cloud, customers are enjoying new power in the buying relationship.

“Today, a vendor must provide exactly what the customer wants – from the actual product to the price, sales conditions to service – every time.  This calls for complete customer engagement, to the extent that the company understands what its customers want before the customers even know it themselves.

“In support of this, companies need to move from managing experience metrics based on NPS to continuously monitoring customer journeys from the first point of contact through to the sale and the ongoing customer service relationship. Real-time user monitoring enables companies to observe customer journeys and resolve any issues which may arise enabling vendors to be on the front foot to maintain customer experience.  Synthetic monitoring can also be utilised to pre-empt any issues before services are impacted resulting in benefits to the customer’s experience as well as the vendor’s bottom line.

“Businesses need to have actionable insights on how potential customers pain points can be erased and where investment in resources needs to be prioritised to ensure customer loyalty and a better customer experience.”

Dave Scheine, Country Manager Australia, Podium

Dave-Scheine
Dave Scheine, Country Manager Australia, Podium

“In a saturated market where consumers are spoilt for choice, convenience is a crucial – but often overlooked – competitive differentiator. Australian consumers demand convenience – including more digital and mobile communication options and contact-free transactions – above all else post-pandemic.

“Take communication, for example. Consumers don’t want to be bombarded with emails or phone calls, or have to go out of their way to interact with a brand. According to Podium research, SMS communications was already the preferred communication method for 9 out of 10 consumers, but 42% are more interested in texting local businesses now than they were before the pandemic. Because so much of daily life today revolves around our smartphone, it makes it an incredibly convenient – and therefore, effective – channel.

“Australia is home to a vibrant and growing local business community, and while it might not be easy to differentiate your business based on products or pricing, convenience is an effective way to stand out. When a business can tailor its operations to its customers, rather than vice versa, it enhances customer experience and, as a result, customer retention.”

Peter Vasey, Director of Marketing APJ, BeyondTrust

Peter-Vasey
Peter Vasey, Director of Marketing APJ, BeyondTrust

“Today, it’s wrong to view cybersecurity as a technology problem when for many it’s in fact a customer retention issue.  Indeed, if you think the solution is to buy another firewall and plug it into your network, you’re simply perpetuating the myth that it’s possible to buy your way to cyber safety.

“While there is clearly a role for products, it’s important to also develop strategies and work with cybersecurity specialists that can reduce the likelihood of your business, suppliers and customers falling victim. Customers want to know that you treat their data with the utmost care and security.

“The Australian Signal Directorate’s Essential Eight security guidelines are good support.  They have been developed to help organisations adhere to best practice cybersecurity practices in areas such as restricting admin privileges, application control and implementing multi-factor authentication.

“However, to retain customers, organisations should take a business-wide approach that has representatives from the audit and risk committee, the legal department, marketing, sales and senior management to ensure that you comply with any required legislation and that each part of your business is made aware of its particular role both in mitigation and response should an incident occur.  You should also be open with your customers should a breach occur that might affect their privacy or financial well-being.  Too often, we see organisations delay or obfuscate the reality causing customers greater concern and leaving them confused as to the impact.”

Andreas Schimkus, Head of Growth & Partnerships, We Wander

Andreas-Schimkus
Andreas Schimkus, Head of Growth & Partnerships, We Wander

“Customer recognition and rewards are hugely important for any business – whether it’s with your customers or employees. We Wander Experience Gift Boxes are designed as the perfect incentive and gift reward.  With current stock delays in industries like the motor industry, post and pre-experience touchpoints are an important way to keep customers interested and retain business. We Wander offer corporate gift boxing solutions that allow personalisation and are a completely different way to make customers feel appreciated. They are the ultimate reward and ‘keep warm solution’ to celebrate key achievements and to reconnect and re-establish a positive relationship with current customers or new leads.”

Elliot Dellys, Founder and CEO, Phronesis Security

Elliot-Dellys
Elliot Dellys, Founder and CEO, Phronesis Security

“There are three simple aspects of a customer relationship that I focus on that have helped Phronesis retain and build its clientele.

“Values matter. Having a similar set of values means you naturally have a clearer understanding of what your client wants, what they need and what they care about, which is essential to making them feel appreciated. At Phronesis every billable hour contributes to our social and environmental impact. This is a core part of who we are which means we want to work with clients that share those values and vision.

“Prioritise trust. Being transparent about what you’re good at and what others may be able to do better is key to building trust with a client and retaining them in the long term. Trying to convince them that what you’re selling is the solution to all their problems will only set you up for failure if something doesn’t go to plan. Being honest and accountable from the start sets the tone so that when inevitable problems come up in a project, they are met with understanding rather than contempt.

“Care about quality. Your end product is the ultimate metric of success and the benchmark with which you can prove your worth to others. Always seeking to maximise your margin, whether it be through outsourcing, talent acquisition or billable hours inevitably comes at the cost of reputation. Putting in that little extra effort may seem insignificant at the time, but ultimately pays dividends in the long term.”

Kristyn Wallace, Vice President APJ, Emarsys

Kristyn-Wallace
Kristyn Wallace, Vice President APJ, Emarsys

“Brands are constantly striving for better customer retention, but many are missing the mark in elongating customer lifecycles because they haven’t taken the time to learn their customers as people. The Emarsys Loyalty Index has revealed that there are five types of customer loyalty: incentivised, inherited, silent, ethical and true unshakeable brand advocates. Knowing the category of loyalty that your customer falls into can determine how you approach a retention strategy and create an emotional connection between customer and brand.

“To understand what kind of ‘loyal’ your customers are, we need insight into their behaviours, and that starts with communicating with them – personally.

“Personalisation should be at the heart of any customer retention strategy. It encourages customers to engage with your brand, on their chosen channel. It improves customer experience and allows brands true insight into who their customers are, including where they like to shop, and how. Having this kind of valuable insight into customer behaviour builds customer loyalty by ensuring we are catering to each individual with the right marketing approach. Knowing how our customers operate as people make them feel valued and gives them an emotional connection to your brand. This means that your customer is going to come back and make repeat purchases, thereby lengthening the customer lifecycle and creating a loyal, retained customer.”

Alok Kulkarni, CEO, Cyara

Alok-Kulkarni
Alok Kulkarni, CEO, Cyara

“Many businesses sweep negative customer reactions under the carpet. But companies that listen, and let customers know their feedback is being taken seriously, often end up with an advantage.

“Customers present brutally honest opinions, but only by listening can brands get a better understanding of things that aren’t working. Issues that would otherwise go undetected can be addressed immediately, enhancing Customer Experience (CX). And, if one customer is being negatively impacted, it’s likely others are too.

“Organisations that take customer feedback onboard must be able to separate ego and emotion from what’s best for the business. Only then can it be leveraged for meaningful change.

“Regardless of who your customer is, be sure to reach out, acknowledge their feedback and open two-way communication. It shows empathy in an otherwise emotionally charged situation and, by personally speaking to customers, brands are letting them know they are valued. In some cases that is all customers want.”

Dr Tracey Zielinski, Clinical Psychologist and Author, Get it Together Forever

Dr-Tracey-Zielinski
Dr Tracey Zielinski, Clinical Psychologist and Author, Get it Together Forever

“In an age of depersonalisation, clever businesses are going back to old-fashioned values to attract and retain customers and to make them feel appreciated. A simple rule of thumb is to stop and reflect on the questions, ‘How would I like to be treated? What would make me feel appreciated?’

“Two key values that help customer retention are:

  1. Acknowledgement
    Quickly acknowledge the customer when they contact you or walk into your premises. No-one likes to feel ignored. Respond to emails, phone calls and messages promptly.
    If you are on the phone when a customer enters your premises use non-verbals to acknowledge their presence.
    Consider a personalised Thank You note with the goods you post.
  1. Respect
    It is human nature to want to be treated with respect. If customers feel they are being disrespected or treated like fools, they walk away, often leaving negative feedback for good measure.”

Michael Chijoff, CEO, Tactica

Michael-Chijoff
Michael Chijoff, CEO, Tactica

“Right from the start, the Tactica community has been our biggest asset; they provide valuable feedback and direction and are a key feature of our brand. We originally built our business through crowdfunding campaigns and as such the customer was firmly cemented into the heart of our company.

“Today, we have more than a hundred ‘test pilots’ in 10 countries, testing new products and sharing feedback before we go to market. As we grew, we continued to engage with passionate customers who knew what they wanted and what was missing. Once you’ve had a part in creating something, you are far more likely to be an authentic advocate for our products and brand.

“Every product had genuine customer involvement – it’s invaluable intel and it is also how we build community. This engagement extends to our social channels – we engage with those who love us and with those who have challenging questions and who push the boundaries.

“We’ve expanded this ‘community of customers’ strategy by undertaking a crowdfunded equity raise, which gives us the opportunity to expand the relationship with customers and get a capital injection from people who know, understand and believe in our business – for the long-term.”

Christopher Koutis, Director of Customer Success APJ, Optimizely

Christopher-Koutis
Christopher Koutis, Director of Customer Success APJ, Optimizely

“How people interact with businesses has changed dramatically in the past couple of years. Today, many consumers now interact with businesses more digitally than physically. As a result, businesses must implement new strategies to ensure they engage and retain customers.

“Personalising individual experiences is an essential ingredient to making your customers feel loved. Simple acts, such as incorporating personalisation into emails, greeting customers by their first name or offering targeted products/services based on their interest, can elevate the digital experience by making customers feel valued and understood.

“Meeting customers where they are is also key to retention. As more businesses turned online than ever before, organisations were forced to exclusively meet their customers online. Wherever customers go, and however they interact with your business, they expect a consistent and seamless experience across all channels. Businesses that provide a seamless omnichannel experience will increase customer retention.”

Rob Ranoa, Founder, Hypop

Rob-Ranoa
Rob Ranoa, Founder, Hypop

“Making our customers feel special is something we take very seriously. From building and maintaining relationships through our social channels to including handwritten notes in customer orders, we want our customers to have the feeling that they’re shopping with real people, not just an online store. Because we offer specialist photography advice, it’s important that our customer service is beginner-friendly – we don’t want people feeling judged about their lack of knowledge in a field they’re passionate about. We’re there to support them over the course of their photography journey and doing this means our customers come back again and again as they progress and want to try new things. Customer feedback matters a lot, so we also put in the effort to respond to every single one of our Google reviews as we are consistently trying to improve in every area of the business.”

Andy Mellor, Regional VP ANZ, Kofax

Andy-Mellor
Andy Mellor, Regional VP ANZ, Kofax

“It’s no secret customer loyalty is make or break from day one. The first few interactions with your customers really do matter in ongoing loyalty. We’ve heard this a million times before, but what’s often less talked about – and is equally vital to customer satisfaction – is creating a positive, secure onboarding process. Traditional onboarding processes tend to be slow, inaccurate, and have a high risk of fraud. Even one mishap during the customers’ initial experience can deter them from engaging with the brand in the future, rendering even the most well-designed loyalty programs and incentives redundant.

“So, using technology – particularly digital identity processing capabilities will give you confidence and reassurance, helping you focus on the fun stuff, like building experiences that creates repeat business and loyal customers. Making customers feel loved needs to be nailed in the very first moments, as positive and secure onboarding experience will encourage retention and continued engagement.”

Walter Scremin, CEO, Ontime Delivery Solutions

Walter-Scremin
Walter Scremin, CEO, Ontime Delivery Solutions

“One of the most powerful ways to retain customers is to put your customers first. Many organisations talk about doing this, but to put it into action requires genuine care, communication, and commitment. For example, in B2B, how can you make your customer’s business better? Can you save them money? Help make them more efficient? To follow through on this means you need to be prepared to leave some revenue on the table – it may be that a cheaper solution is the best option for your customer.

“When you put customers first, care for your customers becomes part of your company’s DNA, influencing hiring decisions, your products and services, company culture, and your approach to innovation.

“Communication is key, particularly in dynamically changing business environments. Its important customers can communicate with you honestly, and especially important that you can learn and respond.”

Ross McDonald, Country Manager, Perkbox Australia

Ross-McDonald
Ross McDonald, Country Manager, Perkbox Australia

“Most organisations have adopted a ‘customer-centric’ approach to their management style. This generally means that keeping customers happy is a core principle of their workplace. But I think a common blindspot in this regard if your staff aren’t happy then this will be reflected in how your customers are being treated. In fact, drilling down on customer satisfaction when team satisfaction is at an all-time low can only further lower morale in the workplace.

“As such, one way to improve your customer service is to look inwards and think about your team. Are they happy at work? Are they supported? Do they feel connected to the workplace? If everyone is motivated and aligned, they will do a better job at maintaining the relationship you have with your customers.”

Scott Reynolds, Fitness Director, Combine Air Training

Scott-Reynolds
Scott Reynolds, Fitness Director, Combine Air Training

“At Combine Air, we fully embrace everyone, sessions can be altered to adjust to any individual to ensure they have the best experience, every time.

“We call our members ALL-STARS because that is how our coaches treat and train them. Our coaches are encouraged to learn names as quickly as possible and understand each ALL-STAR’s training ability, fitness levels and/or limitations.

“We show value at every training session, and back it up with excellent customer service. After training, ALL-STARS can purchase recovery supplements to complement their training, health and wellness goals.

“At CA, we don’t lock our ALL-STARS into contracts, and they can hold whenever they like, we understand things change and sometimes quickly, therefore flexibility in memberships is so important.

“To further make our ALL-STARS feel loved, our Big 10 pillars are displayed at every club, to represent what we stand for and remind our ALL-STARS of our core values.”

Tori Starkey, Head of Customer Experience, Marketing, Education and Analytics, Class

Tori-Starkey
Tori Starkey, Head of Customer Experience, Marketing, Education and Analytics, Class

“The connection between employee experience, customer experience and retention has never been more important.

“For customers to feel loved and want to stay, you need to ensure your team is empowered, engaged, and connected. That’s because great service comes from a dedication to getting the small things right and understanding what drives value for your customers. Delivering this customer value across all touch points and the entire customer lifecycle creates a barrier to leaving.

“However, this is not just about empowerment.  Co-design with both employees and customers is key.  At Class, we listen closely to customer feedback, and then we make the changes that need to be made. Our framework is Listen. Learn. Innovate.

“Leaders today also need to embed a digital mindset to better deliver a personalised experience.  Leverage whatever data and tools you already have to rethink old customer pain points to retain customers and increase lifetime value by using segmentation and targeting to increase customer value.

“Organisations that can build strong relationships across their ecosystem to deliver more value to their customers are going to thrive by increasing customer lifetime value.

“Finally, deliver an exceptional employee experience so you create empowered brand advocates who will, in turn, deliver exceptional customer experiences.”

Alex Clasper, Customer Experience Manager, Red Paddle Co

Alex-Clasper
Alex Clasper, Customer Experience Manager, Red Paddle Co

“Welcoming and supporting every customer in our community is at the heart of what we do here at Red Paddle Co and it is the foundation that supports our industry-leading products. This approach is underpinned by a passionate team who are dedicated to guiding customers to find the perfect item that allows them to reach their goals and be engaged with something much more than just a product. We are passionate about delivering a personal and memorable experience for customers and deliver this through bespoke videos, live video calls through our international showroom and complete post-purchase support.

“Keeping things human and genuine is a great way to ensure your community continue to feel the love from your brand or business. We make the time to get out and visit our community via events and commercial exhibitions to continue to engage with our customers – this is a crucial pillar to keeping our personal customer experience alive.”

Elizabeth Smith, GM of UK and Head of Account Management, Particular Audience

Elizabeth-Smith
Elizabeth Smith, GM of UK and Head of Account Management, Particular Audience

“First off, you need to spend quality time understanding your customers’ needs. Before I started my current role at Particular Audience, I worked in eCommerce for IKEA. While there, I had the opportunity to spend a year in the store getting to know customers’ challenges and helping them find what they’re looking for. This experience was invaluable.

“Along with understanding your customer’s needs first hand, you also need a solid understanding of quantitative data. In eCommerce, this means understanding onsite behavioural analytics, purchase data, fulfilment and returns reports, data gathered through advertising and social channels, broader market intelligence and more.

“Then, you need to put this knowledge to effect – identify the moments in your sales process that can cause headaches, and think about how you can effectively use your resources to soothe those pain points.

“If your customers struggle to find the right product, you can leverage your behavioural data and product metadata to personalise product listings and show highly relevant recommendations, providing shortcuts to exactly what your buyers had in mind. If price is of paramount importance to some of your customers, you could use smart discounting to ensure your prices are always the lowest among your nominated competitors.

“The more you anticipate your customer’s needs and wishes, the more they’ll feel like you really know them, the more they’ll trust you, the more they’ll know you care.”

Peter Marix-Evans, CEO, SHAPE Australia

Peter-Marix-Evans
Peter Marix-Evans, CEO, SHAPE Australia

“At SHAPE Australia, customer experience is at the core of everything we do. From our first contact through to the project sign-off and beyond, collaboration is in every step of our process. As a result, we have a Net Promoter Score of +82 meaning our customers are highly likely to recommend our services to others.

“A simple way that we make our customers feel appreciated is having a single point of contact for any project. With many aspects of the building process, this helps to streamline efficiencies and enables clients to achieve objectives. Another way is through transparency. Keeping customers in the loop with regular project updates ensures clear communication, which is key in any successful partnership.

“Finally, spreading positivity. Customers feel at ease with our builders because they have a positive, solutions-focused, and ‘can-do’ attitude. Most importantly though, we focus on developing strong relationships rather than just fulfilling contracts.”

Leona Watson, Speaker and Coach, Leona Watson Speaks

Leona-Watson
Leona Watson, Speaker and Coach, Leona Watson Speaks

“I always think customised, personalised and longevity and ‘walkability’.   When I had my team building cooking events company, I’d give gifts of aprons with Chef Sally/John embroidered plus customised high-quality knives. Items they can use, that reflect back on their experience with me, are guaranteed to create a positive emotional response, plus a conversation with their friends.   I still have people up to 15 years later tell me they still use their apron and the knife daily!  Another goodie was ditching the December frenzy of corporate Christmas gift-giving.  Instead in January, they’d receive a wall calendar, customised with fun photos from their cooking event.  We’d receive leads from others who’d see it plus referrals.  I also know it created a smile at the memory of their event 😊. 

“The other side benefit was that the staff went through the pics during the quiet of early January, to choose the best photos…it made them tap back into just how fabulous the events were they’d help to create and deliver.  A WIN-WIN for staff and client engagement.  All gifts should link to your business and HOW YOU MAKE THEM FEEL…not just what you do. It’s the emotional and physical link that makes the difference.  Not just a bottle of wine, no one ever remembers!”

Gijs Verheijke, Founder and CEO, Ox Street

Gijs-Verheijke
Gijs Verheijke, Founder and CEO, Ox Street

“At Ox Street, we like to go back to first principles and start with the question: how do you make anyone feel loved or cared for?

Personalise The more personal you can get, the better (without crossing the line to creepy, of course). This lies in the tone of voice when communicating – sending emails from a person instead of an ‘info@’ email address, for instance. Speak to customers as you would if you were addressing a friend.

Timeliness is key: Receiving a birthday present a few days late is still nice, but it’s not nearly as great as gifting it on the same day. Put some thought into the timing and make sure it’s on point.

Relevance is everything: Even if you get a timely, personal message, it has to be relevant to customers. You wouldn’t want to give a vegan person an all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ.”

Gavin Smith, Head of Marketing and Innovation, Pickles

Gavin-Smith
Gavin Smith, Head of Marketing and Innovation, Pickles

“As Head of Marketing and Innovation at Pickles, I guide my team through the development of projects that enrich customer relationships across a range of channels and divisions. We use a tremendous amount of research and innovation to ensure valuable client connections are maintained throughout all departments.

“Recently Pickles has grown to include business verticals across oil & gas and agriculture sectors. These are excellent inclusions to our other industrial-focused lines of business and have presented an opportunity to create new, thriving relationships.

“A key contributor to growing and retaining loyal clients is the information discovered in our Voice of the Customer project. By investing heavily in discovering the exact needs of our clients, we’re able to develop service solutions that provide the utmost satisfaction. We make every effort to provide the easiest way for our clients to sell, which includes a user-friendly client portal and friendly stakeholder relationships.

“Pickles receives high levels of repeat business and upholds a reputation as being an industry leader; achieved by creating the most accessible, easy, and tailored business solutions on the market. These solutions are delivered to our clients through developed stakeholder management, and sales are meticulously handled from start to finish, including post-sale care. This facilitates ongoing business and big contracts that wouldn’t be entrusted to any other business.”

Kris Dieckmann, Business Adviser and SMSF Accountant, Wiseman Accountants

Kris-Dieckmann
Kris Dieckmann, Business Adviser and SMSF Accountant, Wiseman Accountants

“There are several key ways that you can retain customers and make them feel appreciated, both of which are extremely important when running a business and could ultimately be the key to helping your business grow. Our first approach is making a great first impression. Making a first impression goes a long way in any industry, it’s a quick and simple action to implement and can result in loyal customers. Alongside first impressions is communication.

“Communication is key in almost any circumstance, it can help keep your customers in the loop and feel a part of a community as well as make them feel appreciated every step of the way. Show your customers that there is a “difference” between you and your competitors. Find something that sets you apart from your competition and you will be on the road to establishing authority in your industry and amongst your customers.

“And Finally, build and maintain those customer relationships! There’s nothing more important than making your customers feel appreciated and looked after. Give them that quick 5-minute call, send them that email, and drop in if you’re driving by. The simplest things can make a huge difference!”

Nikhil Daftary, Managing Director, Coral Healthcare Pty Ltd

Nikhil-Daftary
Nikhil Daftary, Managing Director, Coral Healthcare Pty Ltd

“There are many ways to make a customer feel loved. One tried and tested method we’ve used at Moments Condoms is to acknowledge customer’s milestones in the same way you would a friend, family member or colleague. A milestone could be a birthday or a customer’s business anniversary (for example – one year since they first registered with the business or made their first purchase). As well as sending a handwritten card on their birthday, we also like to offer a birthday discount to all our registered customers. Not only does this make the customer feel appreciated but it also encourages repeat purchases.”

Leah Rankin, Chief Customer Officer, SiteMinder

Leah-Rankin
Leah Rankin, Chief Customer Officer, SiteMinder

“The most valuable thing small businesses can do to make customers feel loved in the current climate, particularly those in the tourism, hospitality, and hotel sectors, is to do the basics really well. Businesses are being challenged with labour shortages, rising inflation, and more, and customers will be generally understand if their accommodation provider doesn’t have all the bells and whistles, considering many small businesses are addressing sudden peaks in demand with a newer or smaller staff base. However, they will be far less forgiving if the basics aren’t done properly.

“We’ve seen this recently with travellers showing very little empathy to airlines that aren’t sharing updates in a timely way or are making repeated delays or cancellations of services. For hoteliers, tourism operators, Airbnb hosts, and others in this sector, prioritising the customer experience will be paramount. Ensure customers can make or change a booking easily, they have a human being they can easily speak to for urgent matters, and the service they have signed up for is delivered in a timely and efficient way.”

Uchiraka Yatawara, CEO, Glamezy

Uchiraka-Yatawara
Uchiraka Yatawara, CEO, Glamezy

“At Glamezy, our customers are part of our community who advocate self-care and wellbeing. By making our customers a part of our journey, we encourage them to provide their feedback. What do they like about us? What don’t they like? How can we make a better booking experience for our customers? These are some of the questions we try to get answers directly from our customers. A start-up could be ground-breaking with its technology, but the secret to a successful business is to have engaging customers.

“Therefore, customer engagement is super important for our industry-transforming platform focused on the beauty and wellness industry. It is important we provide pro-active feedback to customers too, collaborate and grow together. customer retention will take its own place when a community of customers, platforms, and partners work together with one another.

“One key tip from the team @Glamezy is, to be transparent and honest in your feedback. Help your customers to take your brand forward. Put your energy to build believers of your brand who will surely end up becoming your customers.”

Sarah Russo, Head of Content Marketing, Localsearch

Sarah-Russo
Sarah Russo, Head of Content Marketing, Localsearch

“Customers are the backbone of your business so ensuring you have robust retention and customer experience strategies in place will increase loyalty and make your customers feel loved.

“While you cannot please every customer, businesses need to see the good in the bad. With negative Google reviews actually leading to an 85 per cent higher sales conversion rate, there can be benefits to nurturing these interactions.

“Legitimising someone’s complaint can show them you want the best experience for them and you are actively communicating a solution for their problem. One negative review is not going to ruin your brand reputation, with 92 per cent of consumers saying they tend not to trust businesses with ALL positive reviews.

“However, if you’re struggling to get any reviews, simply ask. Educate your employees about why receives are so important and coach them to ask customers to leave their thoughts. This subtle approach will inspire action, especially if it’s a positive interaction.

“Simple tactics, such as adding in a live chat to directly communicate with your audience, personalisation and linking ads to landing pages, rather than the home page can entice customers to want more from your brand and view the business as trustworthy.”

Yannick Giguère, general manager Australia, Stelvio

Yannick-Giguere
Yannick Giguère, general manager Australia, Stelvio

“Collaboration is a critical part of doing business and achieving success. Investing in open and transparent communication with customers and partners lets companies foster a culture of collaboration that leads to solutions that specifically address pain points and best meet customers’ needs. This helps customers feel heard, and as the partners, they work with are more an extension of their business that is invested in helping to solve challenges, rather than simply delivering a set-and-forget solution that doesn’t always meet the brief.

“Prioritising collaboration in business means that companies have access to more information about the specific challenges each of their customers face so they can work more efficiently to resolve them. Ultimately, this means that collaboration can lead to greater levels of hyper-personalisation which, in turn, delivers a more proactive customer experience that encourages them to maintain brand loyalty, regardless of potential savings that could be achieved through a competitor.”

Isabella Sen, Founder, Peachay

Isabella-Sen
Isabella Sen, Founder, Peachay

“Understand that customers are like your friends. The aim of the game is to listen, understand and show them how much you appreciate them. Interact with them on social, make them feel a part of the brand and let them have an input into what the brand does next. This means making real connections, having genuine conversations, and letting them feel heard. Go above and beyond by sending real emails (not marketing-looking templated emails) and don’t be afraid to surprise or reward them. I love to surprise my Peachay customers by sending them flowers or presents for Christmas. Ultimately, you need to remember that customers are the reason that we get to exist as a company – Thank them for that!”

Jack Campbell, Founder, HIZ Body

Jack-Campbell
Jack Campbell, Founder, HIZ Body

“Personalised communications are key when it comes to customer retention. People want to feel seen, heard and understood by brands. Therefore, it is important that brands are listening to customer needs, personalising their communication and continually providing solutions that have longevity for the customer. Throwing bones (gifts) or offering discounts is an outdated strategy that drives bad consumer behaviour. I believe this should rarely be part of a business retention strategy, especially since it can lead to cheapening a brand’s image.

“At HIZ Body, we seek feedback from our customers regularly, share updates and encourage them to participate in helping us evolve and grow our products and services (using their input). When it comes to GEN Z – they love nothing more than being involved and feeling part of a community where they are helping to make a difference.”

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