I have developed and implemented numerous customer, and prospect, bonding programs for clients, channel partners and employers over the course of my career.
The objective of the programs is to enhance the company's relationship with its customer or prospects, after the saleis made, since any successful business' most valuable asset is its current customers.
This reduces churn and increases revenue.
I am also an advocate of having a "customers for life" philosophy. Customers are sufficiently difficult to get that you should aspire to keeping them for life. They may not always buy from you; however, by maintaining a good relationship, they'll always be a good source of referrals, references and testimonials.
There are several elements of a customer bonding program. The most critical element is an accurate and well-maintained customer relationship management (CRM) database. This database is necessary for tracking communications and all other elements of the relationship.
Once your CRM is up and running, you can begin providing:
- Information of value (content)
- Customer satisfaction measurement and improvement programs
- Customers for life programs
- Personalized communications that lets the customer know you're listening to them and responding with what's most important
Specific elements of a program might include:
- A welcome kit
- Invitation to events of interest
- Cause-related marketing
- White papers
- Customer satisfaction surveys
- Thank you and anniversary gifts
The benefits of such a program are numerous. Here are eight:
- Move customers up the customer hierarchy from prospects, to triers, to users, to loyal customers to "raving fans"
- Increase long-term customer value
- Increase "share-of-wallet"
- Go beyond "share-of-mind" to "share-of-life"
- Reduce churn
- Engender loyalty
- Promote a dialogue
- Reduce marketing expenses as a result of the referrals you are getting
How can your company benefit from a customer bonding program?