How to Retain Customers During Times of Change
No matter what industry you work in: banking, insurance, restaurant, fitness, retail, health care and so on, when your customers experience a change associated with your small business, you run the risk of losing these customers.
Therefore, let’s talk about how to retain customers during a period of change.
To be clear, examples of change include:
- Retirement, death, leave-of-absence
- Sale of business
- Price increase
- Product update or removal
- New employee, business partner, etc.
- Rebranding or business name change
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Let’s look at a simple change example, followed by specific customer retaining strategies.
First, to keep customers, be careful of what you say and write.
I was at my doctor’s office the other day. There was a note posted at the checkout window that read, “Dr. Smith is retiring at the end of the month. Please feel free to choose another doctor from our office staff as your primary care physician.”
I was amazed by this statement.
The physician group is taking for granted that patients will simply choose another doctor from their practice. This is simply NOT true! In fact, a period of change is a perfect time for customers to move on. It’s a natural time for them to “try someone different.” This is particularly true, in this instance, because of the limited communication.
Strategies to Retain Customers
#1 — At a minimum, the physician group should send a personalized letter to all of the retiring physician’s patients. The letter should announce the doctor’s retirement and congratulate her on a service well done. It should also acknowledge that their practice realizes this may be a difficult time for the retiring physician’s patients, as they make decisions regarding their future health care needs.
#2 — To win patients over, the group should invite them to a meet-and-greet (or open house) with several of the other physician members, held no less than two different times during the month, enabling the retiring physician’s patients to meet the various doctors.
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In closing, remember this above all else: Whenever you have a change in product, service or staff, plan for your customers’ reactions.
Most importantly, communicate with them before news of the change breaks!
How about you? Are you using any effective customer retention strategies? Please help other small business owners by sharing your successes in the comment section below.
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