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It has been said many times that retaining your current customers is cheaper than acquiring new ones. But in today’s business world, where customers have virtually unlimited number of choices, maintaining loyalty has never been more difficult. And once customers leave, it’s often difficult to win them back.

So how do you keep your customers happy? How do you keep them from considering other brands?

As this week’s articles show, keeping or winning back customers requires an intense and ongoing focus on the customer, their behaviors, perceptions, needs and motivations.

  1. Learn what drives dissatisfaction, and then fix it.

Rob Candelino, head of Unilever’s hair care business, recently spoke with Forbes about “creating customer intimacy at scale.” He spoke about the fragmentation of the hair care segment and the growing customer dissatisfaction in the market.

Tweet this!Unilever's @RobCandy reveals how to create "customer intimacy" at scale. (CLICK TO TWEET)

“Something like 36 percent of consumers were satisfied with their hair in the early 2000s and now a decade later we’re seeing that number around 11 percent,” he said. The overwhelming number of choices available to customers today is a factor in the dissatisfaction. “Seventeen percent of consumers will walk into a store to buy hair care products, get to the aisle, face what I call the 36-foot Wall of Intimidation, and then walk away without buying.”

To battle dissatisfaction, the multinational CPG company is focusing on providing a better customer experience. “We want to help consumers have a far better experience with every one of our brands—in how they shop for them or how they use them,” Candelino says. “We try to engender brand love by making it as simple to shop, as affordable to shop, as possible and then helping [our customers] understand how best to use a product to get the looks that they want.”

One example is the launch of Luxe Style, a line of affordable Suave haircare products that was introduced in the market after the company discovered that many customers were not happy that they couldn’t replicate salon styles at home. Besides a higher quality product, the company also supports Luxe Style customers by providing useful content that will help them maintain their hairstyles on their own, according to Candelino.

  1. Show your customers you love them.

The banking sector is starting to realize how, to keep customers and increase sales, it must appeal to emotions. Canadian-based Bank of Montreal is doing this by joining the “giftvertising” bandwagon. Its recent marketing campaign features a video that shows the company’s employees surprising a customer, a small business owner, with a day off and other gifts.

The company came up with the campaign after learning how customers perceive its brand. "Our internal mantra is that we're 'people first, bankers second,'" said Joanna Rotenberg, chief marketing officer and head of strategy at BMO, in a statement. "Our customers have told us that this is a point of difference for us; so we saw an opportunity to put our promise into practice and show how our employees really are here to help."

Tweet this!#HelpGiven marketing campaign shows how @BMO puts people first. (CLICK TO TWEET)

As a Globe and Mail article points out, standing out in the banking sector is hard given that customers don’t easily see differences between brands and banking products. BMO’s #HelpGiven campaign builds awareness for the brand and differentiates the company from competitors.

  1. Go to market sooner.

Adidas has set a lofty goal in its efforts to regain back market share. It wants to grow its business by 15 percent every year until 2020. To pull off that aggressive strategy, speed will be crucial.

Borrowing from the fast-fashion playbook, the retailer plans to cut down the time it takes to design products and put them in store shelves. Adidas said it plans to respond to trends immediately and push out new products in-season. The company wants to cut its average turnaround time to six months from the current average of 18 months. Besides putting the focus on customer preferences, the brand plans to speed up its go-to-market strategy by moving production closer to its main markets and automating many of its processes.

Tweet this!Speed and a focus on customer preferences will be crucial in the turnaround efforts of @Adidas. (CLICK TO TWEET)


The cost to switch brands today has never been lower, and companies need to figure out how to nurture loyalty in order to remain profitable. These examples show that keeping customers (or in some instances, winning them back) requires a deep knowledge of customer motivations and preferences—often via deep iterative learning. Prioritizing customer engagement (and reaping the rewards of the resulting insight) is how companies can protect their market share—before it’s a little too late.


How to keep your customers from cheating on you

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