Several months ago, as we thought about our 2019 strategic planning process, we concluded that a focus on our existing customers—particularly their success in using our products—would serve us, and them, well. Now many would argue that a business should always focus on their customers, but in this case, we decided to shine a light specifically on our customers’ success.
Companies that play a role in making their customers successful help to increase the customer lifetime value for the company.
Most software companies, particularly those that offer cloud or SaaS solutions that rely on recurring monthly fees, have begun to recognize that keeping a customer is easier and cheaper than finding a new one, and existing customers who have a positive perspective are likely to buy more. Sound familiar?
Like the gym business, software companies rely on monthly recurring revenue to grow and prosper. For any business that depends on continuing and recurring income streams from its customers, the choice is becoming clear: you either actively manage your customer relationships and their monthly dues as a portfolio of assets, or you effectively lose control over them and your company’s future to chance or to the competition.
Today’s health clubs operate in the age of the customer, where member experience and member voice are everything, whether or not you like it. Customers post and tweet about everything, and they will not accept a subpar experience. There are simply too many choices. Couple all of that with the fact that much of the industry has moved to the no-contract sales methodology and you have created a scenario where the sell-more-than-you-lose business model becomes impossible to maintain.
We have all heard about the gym that loses a bunch of members to the new low-price club that opened in the area. When that happens, I ask the owner a simple question: Why did you let it happen? It’s easy to blame price, but have you ever heard the same excuse from a gourmet burger restaurant when a fast food joint opens down the street? I haven’t.
The reason is simple: the gourmet restaurant focuses on customer experience, quality of food and excellent service. They want to engage their customers, get their feedback, learn from them and make adjustments to the menu. In short, they want to hear from their customers, all of them, all of the time. The fitness industry often ignores these basic best business practices due to our focus on new sales and the misguided idea that you should let sleeping dogs lie rather than waking them. (Click here to learn why that has become a convenient excuse rather than a reality.)
The old-school mentality of sell more than you lose is a race to the bottom. Operators must accept the fact that customer acquisition is only the first step in an extended journey for both members and your club. That’s where customer success comes in. Companies must focus on retaining existing customers, and the secret to customer retention is to make sure that customers are happy and successful, according to Gainsight, a provider of software dedicated to customer success management.
So this year, commit to your customers’ success, talk to them, listen to them and implement tools that can make 2019 the year of the customer at your business.