The Great Customer Resignation: Four Keys to Improve Customer Engagement and Retention

Nicole Dwyer
Four keys to improve customer retention

The Great Customer Resignation is real. The question is — do you have what's needed to weather the storm?

 

How do I love thee? Let me tell you. 

Repeatedly.

And through multiple channels.

No, we’re not kidding.

The Great Customer Resignation is real — and businesses around the globe are feeling it. According to a recent PYMNTS and American Express report, 67% of B2B buyers report switching vendors in order to have a “more consumer-like” experience.

This is B2B buyers we’re talking about. The people who buy software tools and IT services and manufacturing widgets. They want a purchasing experience that feels like Starbucks. Or Facebook. 

If your B2B buyer is a Millennial, that number goes up to 74%. And before you think, “Nah, my buyers aren’t that young,” keep in mind that today, Millennials have crossed over the 40 year old mark. They are mid-career, moving up and yes, making significant purchasing decisions.

And they’re making a point. 

Millennials are mid-career

Millennials are mid-career and making significant purchasing decisions. How does your customer experience stack up?

 

Today, the expectation is that all interactions, business or otherwise, should be easy. 

Because they can be. Technology makes that possible.

And this is true in your AR process. After all, your AR team is one of the first points of contact your business has with a new customer, and it’s likely your most consistent contact throughout the customer’s lifecycle with you.

When you consider your end to end AR process, are you providing your customers with that seamless, streamlined experience they now expect? 

An effective customer interaction is one that leaves the customer feeling both satisfied and accomplished. A stellar interaction that results in continued business also gives the customer a reason to return. That reason to return is what engages the customers — it gives them a feeling of connection with your business.

It is well worth your time to examine the customer experience with your AR process. In fact, it’s a great exercise to run across your entire business. A simple survey of your customers can be rich in helpful information. Ask your customers:


  • How do you feel about our brand? 

Do they like you? Do they love you? Understanding exactly how a customer feels about your business is important.  We make emotional decisions and knowing what kind of emotional energy is behind the interactions will give you valuable information about where you can improve, and where you’re already winning. Consider brands with legendary customer loyalty — with a “cult-like” following — how do they do that? What is the emotional tie they are evoking in their customer base to maintain that connection?


  • How do you like doing business with us?

If you are not easy to do business with, if the experience isn’t one with clear expectations and outcomes, then you are at risk. Your emotional connection has to be in the “strongly love” category for a customer to continue doing business with you if there are easier-to-navigate options out there.

 

What do those two questions have to do with AR? 

Everything. 

Your AR team represents your business every time they interact with your customers. They are your brand ambassadors. Part of their role is to ensure the customer’s experience with them aligns to the brand values of your business.

By asking your customers how they feel about you and about doing business with you, you learn how your brand is perceived and if your brand values are truly felt by your most important audience. 

emotional connection

Your emotional connection has to be in the “strongly love” category for a customer to continue doing business with you.

 

If the responses you get indicate that it’s time to level-up your customer experience, here are four keys you must cover to create a connection that supports a long-term relationship, not a one-time transaction.

Happy Employees Create Healthy Customer Relationships

How happy is your AR team? A well-trained team that has smart tools to support them goes a long way towards serving customers well and creating positive outcomes. When an employee is enthusiastic about their job and their company, and when they are well-versed in important policies and can communicate them clearly, they are set up for a successful interaction. Your customers can tell when they’re talking to an employee who loves her job versus one who’s “phone it in.” Making sure your internal team is both happy and supported is critical — in fact, all the other keys are dependent on this one.

It's Not Only Business

Every decision we make — from the kind of toast we have for breakfast, to the car we drive, to the color of our shirt — is an emotional decision. They aren’t always weighty emotional decisions, but at the root, we make choices that make us feel good. Sometimes “good” means we feel safe. Sometimes it means we feel powerful. Sometimes it means we feel “smart”.  This “good” gets to the root of your brand value: what does it mean to do business with you? Which “good” feeling do you want customers to experience every time they talk to someone on the phone, walk into a store, or visit the website? Your employees are going to exude this positive attribute, the same way it will be incorporated into every step of the customer journey. If you want your customers to feel respected, and valued, then what can you do to ensure that every time they touch some part of your business, those are the values they experience? 

Meet Your Customers Where They're At

Your customers are busy. They aren’t necessarily avoiding your invoice or ignoring you. So having the options of email reminders, portal notification, and SMS texts for those friendly nudges can be helpful in keeping customers on track with their payments — and help you reduce late payments. In addition, remember how they want a “consumer-like” experience? That means using the channels that customers frequent — like social media, for example. This tackles both making it easy for customers to do business with you as well as ensuring your brand and brand values are in front of them consistently. Your customer support and marketing teams should be looking at the digital channels most frequented by your customers and determining how they can put your brand messaging in front of them consistently. This serves as a reminder of who they’re doing business with as well as why they have chosen you.

What Have You Done For Them Lately?

Creating that emotional connection, and being easy to do business with, can all be supported with a customer loyalty program. If your business isn’t the type that makes it easy to rack up “points” for services or products, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a loyalty program. Yours might be structured more around the experience of working together, offering new and fun ways to connect with your customers that result in them feeling more connected with your brand. Perhaps it’s a quarterly Customer Appreciation event, or a monthly sweepstake. If your brand value is about community or broader social issues, maybe you have a customer activity or fundraising event that brings everyone together over a cause. There are many ways to create a loyalty program that reminds your customers that there are multiple benefits to doing business with you — and keeps them sticking around for more.

A Great Place To Start

The Great Customer Resignation is happening because customers are finding competitive businesses who are easy to work with, who provide an experience that is efficient and seamless, and who embody brand values that matter to them. While this customer loyalty is an initiative that spans across your entire organization, your AR team is a great place to start. They have regular touchpoints with the customer through multiple channels, and have the power to turn moderately happy customers into deeply devoted ones.

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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