Do you work really hard to get new customers? Most would say yes.
But do you work hard to keep the customers you have? Maybe not so much.
Don’t worry, it’s very common. Most of the business + senior leaders we encounter are caught up in the trap of customer acquisition. Marketing, social media, special deals, discounts, promotions, PR, advertising… get, get, get.
Well, I have a story to share that knocked my socks off… a clever, clever strategy by a company that almost lost me four times in one year, yet still has me!
How in the world did they manage that? Let me tell you about it…
Phase 1 of the relationship: getting to know each other
I signed up with Audible, the online audio book supplier, around a year ago now.
Having been recommended to try Audible by countless peers + colleagues, they were on my mind. In fact, it seemed like everyone was talking about them.
When I saw a special offer of a ‘free trial period’, I thought I’d give it a go.
(TIP: Free trials are a great way to get customers to try you without all the worry of wasted money or not liking your service. It takes away the risk for them).
Phase 2: should I stay or should I go?
After the trial period ended, which they alerted me to ahead of time, I pondered my membership – was I using it enough to warrant the cost? On consideration of my past usage + the fact we were writing a book of our own that was taking up all our time, I decided I needed to opt out, at least for now.
(TIP: if something is about to change in your customer relationship, be it a price rise or an expiry, be open + upfront with them about it, they will thank you later).
When I went to cancel my membership online, they offered me a discounted rate on the next three months. A pretty heavy discount. It got me thinking, at this price, I might just stick around + try to use it a bit more. Everyone says it’s great, after all. Cleverly, they kept me in the relationship for longer than I’d intended. + it felt good!
(TIP: don’t assume customers are leaving because of something you’ve done. Step into their shoes, figure out what’s going on for them, then solve their problem for them. In this case, it was that I wasn’t really using it, not that they’d done anything bad. By discounting + making it more amenable to me, they gave me a longer period + more of a chance to fall in love with their product).
Phase 3: behind the scenes
Whilst I’m living my life, writing my book, running my business, clever Audible is busy doing other stuff. Clever stuff
- They’re off building new products and services (enhancing the customer experience + the value of their proposition)
- They’re always keeping in touch, sending recommended title suggestions based on my reading + searching history (to make the offering more relatable to me + my needs)
- They’re reminding me of the number of credits I have (rather than hoping I’ll forget + not use them, they’re actively encouraging me to use the product + enjoy it, because by doing so, I’m more likely to stay!)
Phase 4: another juncture
So, my credits are piling up, again. I’m not using it as much as I’d like to, as much as I’d planned. I was using it as much as I knew I would – which wasn’t much! Duh! I think we all know ourselves well enough to know when this happens.
I go back to my Audible account (which I haven’t mentioned yet but is super easy to use), to find out whether I lose my credits if I cancel my membership.
This is when I found another little pot of gold: the pause.
I didn’t have to cancel. I could pause my membership for one, two or three months. I still had access to my credits + my purchased books + I didn’t have to jump ship for good (which I didn’t really want to do anyway). Winning!
What did this option mean for me? It meant that the pressure of accumulating credits (you get one every month as part of your membership fee), the ‘wastage’ of not using them, the feeling of ‘falling behind + it getting too big to manage’, the pressure to pay for something I wasn’t using, could all be put to the side – for now. I could breathe again within this relationship.
(TIP: Don’t assume that because customers are leaving you, that it’s because they don’t want to be in a relationship with you anymore. Often times in business, we are black + white. You’re either a customer or not a customer. We don’t give the customer the chance to stick around a while, we’re either off, or on. By giving the customer a ‘chill zone’, somewhere they can sit, take stock + decide what to do with the relationship, you’re allowing them to stick around + contemplate a relationship with you that they may not want to lose. It may be that there’s just not the right option for them, so it’s either our way (as the business) or the highway.)
Phase 5: FOMO
Guess what I did. Yep, I paused. For three months.
Happy to have access to my credits without the pressure of them piling up + me falling behind or wasting money, I settled into my pause heaven. Bliss. Breathe.
Except something changed.
When I pause, whilst I still have access to my books, I lose the extra benefits + products that I had access to when my membership is ‘live’. The ‘recommended for you’ lists, the free audiobooks, the direct linkages to other books/tools/podcasts/audiobooks that were of the same genre as my chosen books (you know, the ‘you liked this, you should also read this’ or ‘here’s a podcast that is on this same topic’…
Wait, what? I can’t have them anymore?[pssst – guess what, I had NEVER used them once when I had access to them!!]
Cue: FOMO (fear of missing out). Hard-core F.O.M.O comin’ at cha!
Despite never having used these services before, do you think I felt a bit put out that I didn’t have access to them now? Yes.
Did I want to get off my pause as soon as I could (you can un-pause anytime – I know, amazing right!!), so I could get those services back? Hell yes.
Did I want to start using my accumulated credits so I could get off my pause earlier so I could use those services I never ever used before? Duh, YESSSSS!
Phase 6: customer activated!
I’m at the gym on the treadmill. Listening to Audible.
I’m in the car on the way to a meeting. Listening to Audible.
I’m at the coffee shop for my morning coffee. Listening to Audible.
I’m motivated people. I want my benefits back. The ones I never used before. Ha, tell me human nature isn’t a fascinating thing! I’m activated, I’m involved, I’m using my product more than I ever have before. Clever, clever, clever.
Learnings: creating customers for life
A year on with a company + a product that I’ve thought about leaving at least four times, I am still with them.
- their customer experience is fantastic
- their tools are awesome
- their customer service is amazing
- their website is easy to use + navigate
- I can do self service any time of the day + it’s easy + intuitive
- if I get stuck, there’s live chat, a phone number, an email address
- they’re always there for me, how I need them to be
+ most of all….
I get to choose how I interact with them. I get to choose how I use their product.
Want to keep customers? Take a leaf out of Audible's book!
Audible has nailed the concept of keeping a customer.
Four times I have thought about leaving, yet here I am, still a customer.
It takes a certain kind of business to do that.
It takes nouse – customer nouse. It takes guts. It takes being willing to be different, to shake sh!t up + do it your own way.
By knowing their customers, having an awareness of when + why they might leave the business, identifying their pain points + taking them on head on, giving the customer options + incentives to stay, + being there for them on the journey, Audible has nailed it.
If you need a reason to take a closer look at your customers, this is it.
Keep the customers you have + stop chasing ones you don’t.
Because by keeping the customers you have, they’ll bring new ones along for the ride.
Thanks for reading,
In our new book ‘Leading the Customer-led Revolution’ due out in May 2023, we look at the crucial role Customer Advocacy plays in helping you become more efficient + effective.
In fact, Customer Advocacy is one of the nine capabilities of high-performing customer-led organisations.
Secure your copy early, signed by the authors, at our pre-purchase page here.
A globally accomplished strategy professional, Sueanne is passionate about connecting businesses with the ultimate reason they exist: their customers. Her impressive reach has transformed market-leading brands such as lastminute.com, Terry White Chemmart, PPQ, Brisbane Powerhouse, AVIS, Travelocity, Hays Recruitment, Visit Sunshine Coast + Tourism Queensland.
With customer experience in her DNA, she is committed to transforming businesses + regions through aligning people, products + places. Her empathetic + decisive style breaks through business barriers, + brings everybody from board room to back office on the journey.