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This article was published 4/5/2019 (712 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
MARKETING Defence: Part 3 of creating a winning game plan.
I have a Pittsburgh Steelers T-shirt that has "Offense gets all the Glory" on the front, and "Defense Wins Championships" on the back. As someone who played and coached football, including co-ordinating defensive strategies, this statement rings true for me.
A defence creates a game plan for how it will stop the opponent’s offence. A business should create a defence against the competitive theft of your customers. The customer retention plan is designed to ensure extensive knowledge about your customer and what their expectations are, so the relationship can grow and be protected.
Defences must be aware of key offensive players and their special talents. Ultimately, the defence wants to stop the opposition from scoring.
In business, a defensive approach is necessary to protect your customers from competitors. You want to stop competitors from taking your customers, either completely or in small chunks. You want to maintain your share and try to grow it. You want to force your competitors out of their comfort zone in their quest for customers.
How do you apply this thinking into your customer retention strategy? When was the last time your senior leadership met with a customer, just to meet, not to sell anything? What was learned and what was passed on to the organization to put into practice?
You need to know why customers select you and why they stay with you. Where are you vulnerable to losing a customer? Which of the 4 Ps is most at risk? Does your product or service really deliver what the customer needs? Are you able to deliver it through the correct channels (place)? Is your price enough for you to stay in business and represent the value of the total experience that you offer? Do your messages promote the proper positioning and speak to your value from the customer’s perspective?
Creating this defensive game plan also requires you to know the skills and talents of your players, so you can create a scheme (the responsibility of the players on each play) that will stop the offence. Do you really understand what your true strengths and differences are, and have you confirmed this is why customers picked you? While you may think your product or service is important to your customer, the reality may be that you provide just one item that they need to run their business. The potential replacement of your product or service in this scenario may be quite high, if not adequately monitored.
Poor customer service or followup are two of the most common reasons that a customer will leave a supplier. This holds true in service-based industries as well. This past weekend, we were celebrating our youngest son’s graduation at a restaurant where we have had great meals and service before. Unfortunately, the combination of infrequent table service, cold food and a manager who refused to accept responsibility for this terrible experience led to an overall very poor experience. We will never go back because there was no aspect of service recovery presented. We did not feel valued as a customer.
To expand on this, you really need to be in your customer’s shoes, and not just think you are. When you do this, you create opportunities to identify other ways you can help them grow. You may have learned something interesting from another client, on your own, or at a conference, that could be new and different for your customer.
As you present this new concept to your customer, they might just say "no one has ever shown us this before." At this point, you are the leader in their eyes. You have done something for your customer’s benefit first. And customers increase their trust and loyalty when you take these steps. Bringing these ideas to your customers is part of building that protective wall.
Gaining new customers is a requirement for growth, but the foundation for growth is the retention of existing customers through a level of care and support that can set you apart from your competitors. Building a comprehensive defensive, or retention-based, mindset across your organization is how championship organizations are built for the future.
Tim’s bits: Football defences typically have a personality, described in different ways such as suffocating, stout against the run, or having an aggressive pass rush. What is your customer defence mindset? If you say focused, do you equip your organization to implement focused retention practices? How well do you protect your customers from your competitors?
Tim Kist, CMC, a certified management consultant by law, works with organizations to improve their overall performance by being be truly customer-focused.
Tim is a certified management consultant with more than two decades of experience in various marketing and sales leadership positions.