Customer Retention

Customer Retention: Lessons Learned from my Auto Mechanic

When my car needed to be repaired recently, I asked friends and neighbors for their recommendations. Their responses were uniform: John at Island Center Auto.

I wasn’t surprised. We had used John for car repairs in the past. It didn’t matter that we had different makes and models of cars. It didn’t matter that we didn’t know John’s last name (he’s known in the community simply as “John”).

It didn’t matter that John never answers his phone and prefers to communicate by fax. (Fax!) It didn’t matter that John doesn’t have email. Or a website. Or a cell phone.

All that was important was John’s reputation as the go-to guy for car repair.

Best Practices for Customer Retention

Best practices for customer retentionAs I thought about John, his business, and customer loyalty, I thought about the things John has done to retain customers and keep a loyal following, practices we can all adopt for similar results:

  • John’s been in business for a very long time and is a trusted member of our community. He’s built up his base of customer referrals over decades of demonstrated commitment.
  • John charges fair prices. He doesn’t price gauge, even when he could.
  • John has happy employees who have been with him for decades. Employees share the same commitment to customer service and the same passion for their work as John.
  • John is brutally honest with his professional assessments. When we considered replacing the engine in one of our cars several years ago, John told us the pros and the cons of such an endeavor, illuminating the many risks we faced.
  • John doesn’t take jobs for which he believes he’s unqualified. If he feels he lacks expertise in a specific area, he graciously declines, ensuring he maintains superior service.
  • John deals with reputable partners for parts replacement and disposal. He understands his partners’ businesses as well as his own, including both their strengths and their limitations.
  • John makes sure the job is done right. If it’s not, he keeps soldiering on until he’s satisfied with the outcome.
  • John offers consistent hours: 9 am – 5 pm Monday through Friday. While he works hard, he also recognizes the importance of time away from work, for both himself and his employees.

Customer Retention Lessons LearnedJohn may be one individual with one small business in one small town. But it’s all the “Johns” of the world that ensure customers receive a positive experience and stay loyal to their providers over the long term.

And if you’re still not convinced, research by John Fleming and Jim Asplund indicates that engaged customers generate 1.7 times more revenue than passive customers highlighting a direct link between customer retention and profitability.

Customer retention. It’s critical to every business’s success.

What innovative ways is your organization retaining customers? What experiences have you had with your providers that keep you coming back?

Share your stories below!

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P.S. Have you heard about our Customer Experience Analysis program? Our B2B customer experience program retains customers!

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Carolyn Galvin
Director of Partnership Marketing at Primary Intelligence
As Director of Partnership Marketing, Carolyn Galvin works with referral and strategic partners to extend Win Loss and Customer Experience programs to a wider community of B2B buyers. She also produces syndicated research reports highlighting current trends and best practices in Win Loss and Customer Experience Analysis. Prior to her current role, Carolyn served as a Program Consultant and as Director of Industry Insights at Primary Intelligence since joining the company in early 2013.

Carolyn has nearly 20 years of market research, customer satisfaction, and competitive intelligence experience working for large corporations and research agencies, including Alcatel-Lucent, Juniper Networks, and Frost & Sullivan. Early in her career, Carolyn worked as an Intelligence Officer at the Central Intelligence Agency.

Prior to joining Primary Intelligence, Carolyn owned her own consulting firm, where she provided custom and syndicated research to clients worldwide on disruptive IT and telecommunications technologies.
Carolyn has two master’s degrees, one from the Thunderbird School of Global Management and a second from Georgetown University. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Hood College in Maryland. Carolyn has also taken advanced Competitive Intelligence, Strategic Planning, and Strategic Marketing courses at the California Institute of Technology, as well as Digital Marketing classes at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Since 2007, Carolyn has taught online global business and management classes part-time at the University of Maryland.
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