Customer acquisition vs. customer retention is a bitter rivalry that plays itself out in most businesses. The outcome is predictable and evident from Econsultancy’s statistics that say 44% of businesses focus on customer acquisition, while only 16% focus on retention. While it might be hard to say why businesses remain so acquisition-focused, it’s easy to see how that might affect their bottom lines.
Loyal customers are incredibly valuable to a business. They tend to have a higher lifetime value and they tend to spend more money after joining a loyalty program, even though they join to save money or receive awards. Still, as many as 61% of retail businesses would say that customer retention is a challenge for them. Some, unfortunately, don’t even know where to start.
For those, Gianluca Bernardi has a clear answer — customer service. “Good customer service is the clearest way to communicate to customers that your business values them,” he explains. “The opposite is also true — nothing can make customers run away from your business as bad customer service can.”
Throughout his career, Gianluca Bernardi has been on the product side of things, whether he was coming up with concepts or designing products. “I like everything about products,” he explains. “I like coming up with ideas, I like designing them, I like creating a thing that will make people’s lives easier or more enjoyable, even in small ways.”
It’s his experience with entrepreneurship, however, that showed him just how important customer service is. “There are few products that completely dominate their markets,” Gianluca Bernardi says. “When there’s competition involved, the business cannot rely only on having a good product — they have to use the quality of their service to win customers, and then to retain them.”
Speed and efficiency are two customer service quality parameters that Bernardi believes businesses should focus on, as they have beneficial effects for customers and the businesses.
With speedy and efficient service, customers are constantly reminded that the business appreciates their time and is not only concerned with acquiring their money. Improving the speed and efficiency of customer service also equals more customers served in the same timeframe, making business operations more streamlined and efficient.
There are additional ways to improve customer service, too, and all of them might contribute to better customer retention. Approaching customer interactions from the perspective of creating a memorable customer experience can be incredibly powerful. Taking customer feedback seriously is another way to ensure the customers feel like they are valued. “It’s also possible to improve a team’s customer interaction skills, which can count for a lot,” finishes Gianluca Bernardi. “But, in a busy world like ours, speed and convenience are valued, which is why people will flock to businesses that won’t waste their time. That’s where efficiency and speed count the most.”
Photography by: Gianluca Bernardi