Let’s Talk About Customer Retention

By Mike Porter

What is your company doing to boost customer loyalty? Are you keeping clients informed about what's going on in the mailing industry? Suggesting ways to improve the effectiveness of their campaigns? Offering additional services?

If print/mail service providers aren't doing those things throughout the span of customer contracts, they might find themselves in bidding wars when renewal time comes along. If clients regard your print and mail services as equal to anything they can get from your competitors, they will shop around. Take positive action now to help you keep the customers you’ve got. Don’t leave it to chance.

Consistently reminding clients about the benefits of doing business with your company and showing that you care for them as individuals is the best way I know of keeping them on board. This is an area many print/mail service providers neglect.

It’s Not a Hard Sell

Customer retention strategies differ from customer acquisition campaigns. Your clients already have a relationship with your business. They are familiar with your products and services. On the other hand, you also know some things about them. Your records show what they have ordered, the date of the last order, their average order size, and more. As you communicate with your past and present clients, use this information to increase the relevancy and value of those communications.

Here are some ideas for you:

Anniversaries—Use the date of a client’s last order as a trigger to send them a message that shows you recognize them as individuals, appreciate the business they did with you, and want them to return. Offer a discount on re-orders or new work.

Welcome Kits—The beginning of a business relationship is an important opportunity you shouldn’t waste. Clients are happy with their choice of print/mail service providers at this time and are excited about the first project. Send them a personalized welcome letter, remind them about ways to connect with your organization (phone, email, web portal, etc.), and introduce them to useful resources. Your website might feature content such as direct mail tips, file preparation guidelines, color management strategies, etc. The welcome kit may also include some branded swag, a request for referrals, or a discount on their next order.

Announcements—Have you acquired new equipment, expanded your facilities or staff, or upgraded the customer portal? Give existing clients the facts and emphasize how the investments you’ve made can benefit them. Include an offer that encourages them to try the new capabilities.

Milestones—Recognize the number of years clients have done business with you. Other items you might measure are the number of impressions you have printed for them, the estimated feet of paper used, or the number of mail pieces sent. Some clever imagery and text can mark the date as a celebration and an opportunity say thank you—and stay top-of-mind.

Win Back—Have some dormant clients that haven’t placed an order in a while? Send them a personalized communication that mentions the last work you did for them and invites them to check out anything new you’ve added since. Include a welcome back discount.

Trends—Keep your clients up to date about what’s happening in the printing and mailing world. Create articles that explain the USPS ten-year plan, postage promotions, mail piece tracking, or multi-channel communications. Keep this content informational, not sales-oriented, but tie it back to products and services your company offers.

It’s a Win-Win

The same techniques that help a print/mail service company retain customers can apply to your clients as well–with you as the facilitator. This opens the door for new revenue occurrences like fulfillment or triggered communications.

Do all your clients send welcome kits to their customers? Do they recognize birthdays, anniversaries, and milestones? Find out about their customer retention statistics and then suggest ways you can help them improve.

Offering customer retention services not only benefits your clients. When you are actively assisting them to reduce customer churn and increase order sizes, they are more likely to continue working with your company year after year.

Advantage of Being in the Mailing Business

You are in the mailing business! Use your own customer retention content to demonstrate the effectiveness of direct mail. What better way to prove that people pay attention to relevant and interesting items they receive in the mail than with a mail piece from you a client is holding in their hands?

Sending your customer retention items by mail is also a way to show off your services. Clients will have an example of your abilities with fulfillment, familiarity with technologies like augmented reality, or the capabilities of your equipment with unusual folds, print embellishments, or data-driven variable images that you’ve incorporated in your mailings to clients.

We concentrate so much effort on attracting new customers that we fail to recognize the value of a strategic plan for keeping clients active over the long term. None of the suggestions above are very expensive, compared to the cost of replacing an important client who left because they got a slightly better price from someone else.

Your company probably doesn’t lose customers because you did a poor job. The customers leave because they think they’re getting a better deal elsewhere or they didn’t feel appreciated. A little effort to boost the way you communicate with past and present customers can make a difference.

Mike Porter at Print/Mail Consultants creates content that helps attract and retain customers for companies in the document industry. Learn more about his services at www.pmccontentservices.com. Follow @PMCmike on Twitter, or send him a connection request on LinkedIn.