RETENTION: The Hidden Force Behind Growth, Profits, and Lasting Value – Part IV

By Terrel Transtrum, Co-founder, LaunchSmart™

You can become good at retention!

In prior articles, we established that the average annual attrition rate in direct selling companies is 80% per year. We also introduced the 30 best practices of the Retention Leaders, those companies that have managed to beat the averages. We have helped readers to see how even a small increase in retention greatly leverages growth and momentum, and that retention presents one of the best opportunities for high Return on Investment (ROI).

Retention Principles

The four Retention Principles are listed below. In this article, we explore the third of the four principles of retention. Upon these principles the 30 Retention Best Practices derive their power.

The 4 Retention Principles

  1. Value
  2. Expectations
  3. Service
  4. Leadership

Principle 3 – Service

Companies that enjoy high retention leaders have launched their efforts on a platform of service. Customer service is alive and well. Serving field leaders will yield remarkable retention results.

The CEO of a company that enjoys hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenues and some of the highest retention rates ever achieved was asked, “What is the secret of retention?” He thoughtfully explained, “I don’t know how to make this very complicated. We really do put our field leaders as our very first priority; we take care of them and make sure that have everything they need to succeed.”

Over the years, this CEO has guided his corporate team through very challenging waters, at times risking total failure by standing first and foremost on his commitment to quality and service. “These two old-fashioned virtues have served us well. They are trusted old friends,” he explained.

What Customers and Field Representatives Really Want

Why do customers do the things they do? What drives your company’s business builder? What turns them on? What turns them off? Why are they sometimes happy? Why are they sometimes angry? What do they want in a service transaction?

The answers to these questions are not easy, neither for your company’s customers nor for your field reps and business builders. Psychologists have been working on them for years. But as a service-giver, the success of your company and its service-giving employees depends on handling people properly. There are 12 basic needs that motivate your customers and field reps and make them do the things they do.

1. Control

Customers and field reps need to feel they are in control of a situation. They need to feel they can make things come out their way and they are not being taken advantage of, manipulated or deceived.

2. Goals

Customers and field reps need to feel that whatever they are doing is helping them toward their goals. Most of the things we do in life are in pursuit of some goal. We are constantly seeking those things that are important to us, things we feel will bring us happiness and satisfaction.

3. Self-Image

Customers and field reps like to feel good about themselves as they go about their daily lives. They like to think of themselves as doing the right thing, that they are intelligent and competent, not foolish or silly. They like to interact with those who help them maintain their positive image of themselves.

4. Fairness

One of a customer’s and field rep’s strongest drives involves a sense of fairness. They like to feel that in any service transaction, they are being treated fairly and appropriately when compared to others.

5. Friendliness

Customers and field reps want to feel good about those with whom they interact. They want to trust them and have confidence in them. They like service-givers to be friendly and warm so they can enjoy a pleasant service transaction–before and after the “enrollment” and the “first order.”

6. Understanding

Customers and field reps always want to know WHAT is happening and WHY, so they can understand what’s going on around them. In service-giving situations they get frustrated and angry when they can’t get the information they want. They don’t like it when things are not explained to them so they can really understand what’s going on.

7. Security

Customers and field reps have a strong need to feel safe and secure. They like predictable situations where they are familiar with everything and know what’s going to happen. That’s why they often hesitate to change services or products, or move to a new city. In service situations they get apprehensive when they think their safety or security is threatened. In “long-distance” business with your company, they need to know that we have their best interests at heart.

8. Approval and Recognition

Customers and field reps like to have the approval and acceptance of others. Praise and recognition by others is one of their most powerful motivators. From our first efforts as babies to gain the approval of our parents, we all spend a lot of time trying to get others to recognize us for our accomplishments.

9. Importance

All Customers and field reps like to feel they are important and essential. In service-giving situations, they want service-givers to recognize their importance and not ignore them or treat them as unimportant. They like prompt, full attention and they demand that their time and activities receive proper consideration.

10. Appreciation

Customers and field reps like to feel appreciated. Especially if they invest a large amount of time, energy or money in something. They want that effort to be appreciated by those who benefit from it. In dealing with your company, they like to know their product purchases and / or hard work in enrolling and building their organizations are valued and appreciated.

11. Belonging

Customers and field reps like to identify with your company and other organizations. They belong to clubs, neighborhood groups and volunteer organizations. They like to feel they contribute to others, and others contribute to them as members of the same group. They enjoy being identified as people who belong to a group. In business and service-giving organizations, they are often proud of their affiliation with an organization. They like the feeling of being a “regular customer” and a “contributing owner” of your company. We satisfy that sense of belonging by recognizing them, greeting them by name, acknowledging their contributions, and giving their friends the same excellent service that they receive—give them bragging rights because we truly are world-class service-givers.

12. Honesty

Customers and field reps have a strong need to feel they can trust and have confidence in your company and its employees. This is especially true today because so many have been the victims of false advertising, broken promises and poor service.

World-class service-givers are the eyes and ears of a service organization. They are in constant contact with customers and field reps, and they know what annoys them and what prevents the organization from giving good service. They identify hurdles, note the hurdles and barriers to good service, and make sure they tell the right people so they can be corrected. They ask questions like, “Is there any way we can make this service faster and more efficient? What happened to this field rep that can be prevented from happening to others by fixing it? Is there any way we can make this service more convenient, cost-effective, and simpler for our field reps and company?” Even though each suggestion might not be accepted, world-class service-givers always search for ways to improve the company, its systems, guidelines, policies and procedures.

(The content of this article is extracted from ServiceQuest® RetentionSmarts™ Modules. For more information on RetentionSmarts™ training and mentoring systems, contact a member of the LaunchSmart Team.)

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