The Great Customer Resignation: Four rules for the customer loyalty long game

Nicole Dwyer
Use accounts receivable as a method to improve customer retention

Accounts receivable can be a powerful force in helping your business improve customer loyalty. Here are four rules to keep in mind.

Our previous blog posts identified four root causes of The Great Customer Resignation and explored four keys to improve customer engagement and retention.

So now let’s talk about the four rules you need to abide by for long-term customer loyalty and success. Today's companies are viewing customer retention as an important growth strategy. The ability to foster happy customers that want to buy more from you and will also be your advocates in the market can have a major impact on your continued success.

The new way we’re managing businesses might have been instigated by what we thought was a temporary situation, but the resulting changes are permanent. Remote work employees are a real, lasting change. Digital channels for conducting business transactions are no longer novel, but commonplace. And the expectation that any B2B digital interaction should feel as easy and comfortable as a B2C one is now the norm.

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Work looks a little different to when we were growing up…

 

At a time when the market, and customer expectations, are continually evolving, it makes sense to have a robust and thoughtful customer loyalty program. Customers are at the heart of your success. And right now, they are shopping around for the most engaging and expedient way of doing business. 

Your accounts receivable team can be a powerful force in helping your business improve customer loyalty and retention. They are on the front lines of customer communication, interacting with your customers regularly. As you examine your strategy for customer retention and the role your AR team plays, there are four rules to keep in mind.

Never Stop Evolving

While businesses are still adapting to using digital tools to collaborate remotely, customer habits are also evolving. More than ever, their work habits are based on flexibility. Your ability to manage your AR processes to meet their ever-changing demands is critical to stability and growth. 

Transforming your AR process means ensuring you are meeting the needs of your employees as well as your customers. Focus on areas where you can accelerate processes, streamline workflow and create opportunities to strengthen relationships. 

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Don't be a dinosaur! Make sure your accounts receivable process meets today's evolving expectations.

 

This includes automating the invoicing process, providing customers with access to account information and the ability to make payments independently, as well as digitizing collections

With a smart AR platform, you can provide cross-departmental visibility to customer data, minimize data entry errors and analyze omnichannel information to support smarter business decisions.

To stay ahead of the competition, review your AR processes on a quarterly or biannual basis, and develop a roadmap for implementing those improvements that will impact your bottom line.

Invest In Customer Loyalty Ahead of Acquisition

Of course, you want both. Customer acquisition is one of your paths to growth, and the companies you acquire will turn into those coveted loyal customers. But to get there, you must first have a customer base that people want to be part of. Take a look at those businesses with the most dedicated fan base. Why is that? What do they offer that has customers repeatedly going back to do business, and even expanding the business they do?

If you’re from the mid-Atlantic, you might be familiar with a convenience store/gas station chain called Wawa. Their customer base is legendary for its dedication to the brand. Why? Wawa makes it easy to be a fan — their focus is on providing fast, quality food to their customers. That’s right — a convenience store with a commitment to quality. And they deliver, so customers return not just for the sandwiches, but the coffee, the snacks and yes, even the gas. Then those same customers share their positive experiences — in conversations, on social media, and at home. So more fans flow into the fold.

What is your promise to your customers, and are you delivering on that? Every time your AR team interacts with a customer, are they representing the values of your business? Your AR team has regular communication with your customers, so their ability to provide services and interact with customers in the desired way is at the root of your customer loyalty program. This team can even make your customers feel good about paying you!

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Happy customers = healthy cash flow.

Not only are your customers the basis of stability for your business, but they are also the foundation upon which your reputation and revenue increase. Focus on creating an enthusiastic customer base, and the new customers will want to be part of that club, too. The bonus: this is a far more effective and cost-efficient approach to customer acquisition than cold marketing.

Use Your Data: Rinse And Repeat

How much do you actually know about your customers?  

More than you think. You’re collecting information on their business, their buying patterns, and their payment preferences, among other things. You have a history that shows when they buy, how much they buy and when they pay. This gives you a good sense of their overall business patterns and health. 

With a smart AR platform, all this data can be pulled into a single dashboard, providing you with helpful information about your different customer segments and their behaviors. And that information is useful for making business decisions. 

When you can segment your customers and monitor their patterns, you can fine-tune your business to better meet their needs. And when you do this, you create happier, more loyal customers.

This same data is also useful in helping you make decisions for your own business. Is your credit policy supporting your business goals or is it slowing down your cash flow? Is there a market segment dragging down your numbers, or a service line you need to sunset? Is there a particular segment of your market that would benefit from different payment terms? Are there certain customer segments who are struggling right now - or ones doing exceptionally well - where you can offer new programs to support them? 

In addition to all of this, a solution like YayPay comes with a team that can give you advice on how you compare to your competitors, and the actions you can take to advance your business. So it’s not only about having a smart AR platform, but also a support system behind the technology that will focus on driving better results with you for your business.

 

"The true competitive edge that YayPay has, is the relationship they create with their clients. My team feels heard, feels appreciated, and we are active partners with YayPay. This results in success for both of us." 

Director of AR, LogMeIn

Commit To The Long Game

Ensuring ongoing customer loyalty and retention is a long-term commitment. There should be regular review cycles of your loyalty and retention efforts, and of the data that you’re collecting along the way. 

Everyone inside your business has a stake in its success. Creating a cross-functional task force, with representatives from AR, marketing, sales, customer support, operations, product management, etc, accomplishes three key goals for you:

 

  • Keeps your programs fresh: Create opportunities to test and evaluate fresh initiatives regarding customer engagement to ensure that the programs and data are reviewed regularly. This means programs that aren’t working well can be tweaked or retired, and you can “double down” on the ones that are working. Continuous improvement fosters excellence and this will translate into tangible revenue and growth.

  • Builds internal relationships: Organize a cross-functional team that can bring different viewpoints and ideas to the table regarding what message or program should be implemented, and which ones require a pivot. While they all might be looking at the same data, product management may have different ideas to marketing on how to respond to it. This supports a healthy exchange of ideas that will benefit your program. It will also build trust between team members that can translate over to other areas where they collaborate.

  • Increases employee satisfaction: Establish a core group of evangelists for your customer loyalty and retention efforts, who can improve internal communications and transparency by sharing the work they’re doing. When each member takes back to his or her team the new programs being implemented and the ideas being shared, the broader employee base is brought along on the journey. Employees who believe their organizations are transparent with them are happier at work — it establishes trust. This improves job satisfaction, which impacts how each employee represents your business — and the energy and attitude they bring to each customer interaction.

 

The focus on customer loyalty and retention is core to your business success and should be looked at strategically as a long-term commitment, not a short-term fix for an unexpected crisis. By staying competitive with market changes and technology, you become a business that’s easy for customers to work with. If you bake these four rules into your customer loyalty long game, you are establishing a solid foundation for long-term growth and success.

 

Nicole Dwyer
About the Author

Nicole Dwyer is Chief Product Officer for YayPay, bringing more than 10 years’ experience in accounts payable and receivable technology to ensure YayPay continues to meet the needs of its customers. Having spent her entire career in commercial payments, Nicole understands high- and low-value payment systems, the complexities of how businesses pay and get paid, and has worked with distributed teams spanning the globe. She is a graduate of Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Residing in New Hampshire with her husband, daughter, and son, they spend their time outdoors and creating new adventures.

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