Customer retention, which focuses on building long-term relationships with customers by rewarding loyalty, maintaining engagement, and earning trust, is often a long-term investment. Carrying out even the most theoretically seamless retention strategy requires the right tools, starting with the technology and software that will best suit your company’s needs/goals.
So what are some of the best examples of such technology available on the market right now? We’ll be exploring the answer to that question today.
Why is Customer Retention Important?
Customer retention is important to a growing company as an indication of literally “withstanding the test of time” when it comes to addressing the needs of existing customers, not just attracting new ones. When the cost of acquiring a new customer can cost five times as much as maintaining a relationship with an existing one, high retention rates are crucial to keeping your ROI in the green.
Customers who find their needs served and their loyalty rewarded are, unsurprisingly, more likely to leave positive testimonials and provide referrals. This means that customer retention also plays a significant role in a company’s reputation. In short, retention is a KPI with regards to gauging the quality of the relationships being built with customers over time.
Available Customer Retention Tools
There is a wide range of tools applicable to customer retention, but it’s easier to begin by grouping them into several categories.
A customer relationship management platform is a tool used to track and manage a customer's entire journey, from onboarding to closing sales, from a central location. CRMs offer many benefits aside from customer retention, making them valuable assets in a marketer's toolkit.
When all customer information and interactions are stored in one place, both external communication with prospects and internal communication between your teams are improved and made more efficient. CRM tools are generally combined with other tools on this list to maximize their potential.
Customer Loyalty and Gamification Programs
A customer loyalty program is one of the most straightforward methods for boosting customer retention. Offering exclusivity through membership or rewards points adds perceived value to your offers and your company image overall. And loyalty programs reward more than just purchasing behavior; they can be used to encourage feedback, social media activity, referrals, etc.
Gamification refers to the application of game mechanics to the customer experience. With gamification, software users (employees) as well as customers are motivated to complete actions by making them more interactive, enjoyable, and competitive. Sites that incorporate gamification often display features like leaderboards, statuses, and badges.
Customer Experience Management
CEM (customer experience management) is subtly, but distinctly different from CRM. CEM is the collection of processes a company uses to track and manage all of the interactions that occur between a customer and a company throughout the customer life cycle. It often provides similar functionality, but also focuses on the customer as a person, rather than simply a faceless client.
A CEM platform is designed to collect experiential data from customers and prioritize their feedback as a means of gaining insight and continuously optimizing the customer experience, so common features may include survey forms, A/B testing, customization settings, and customer support. Customer support systems can incorporate both automated and live chats, as well as access to customer communities and self-help resources.
What's the Best Customer Retention Technology?
Overview: A highly popular CRM choice, Zoho focuses principally on lead and contact management, along with sales pipeline management and purchase control. Scaling well to fit the needs of companies of all sizes, it offers a wide range of features from email campaign management to social media channel oversight to customization capabilities to sales tracking.
Zoho’s artificial intelligence system, Zia, automates recurring tasks over time and offers predictions on trends, conversions, and deals closing as it gathers data about your customers. With a strong mobile platform and an ever-growing library of integrations, this CRM’s advantages lay in its versatility and flexibility.
Price Tag: Four plans are offered, ranging from $12 to $100 monthly, as a modest free edition with access for 3 users.
Overview: In addition to its Marketing and Sales software, HubSpot has created a great tool at a reasonable price point that has remained at the top of the list for CRM tools. Hubspot’s CRM software is designed to integrate smoothly with their Marketing and Sales Platforms, free of charge. Outstanding features include:
- A “live” sales pipeline in the form of a dashboard, with sortable deals and lead information
- Easy automatic logging of sales activities
- An integrated lead/contact management system with call and meeting scheduling and email sequencing
- A library of email templates
- A variety of integrations, from Eventbrite to Shopify
Price: The standalone CRM is 100% free!
Overview: Another trusted giant in the sphere of marketing and sales software, Salesforce has created a comprehensive CRM to track all customer information and interactions through a single, powerful platform unifying multiple apps.
These include Lead Management, Marketing Automation, Sales Data, and Partner Management. Salesforce comes with a mobile app featuring real-time data and custom reports, paired with the Salesforce Sales Cloud, which provides insights from “live” customer data that can be accessed remotely. In addition, the software integrates with a large number of external tools and apps, including email.
Price Tag: The Lightning Essentials plan starts at $25 monthly per user, with the most popular Lightning Enterprise plan coming in at $150 and the Unlimited plan offered at $300.
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Overview: Loyverse is a POS, or a point of sale system-- the place where a customer executes the payment for goods or services bought from a company. Unsurprisingly, it is an eCommerce-targeted software, and a great example of a lower-level customer rewards tool, particularly given its price. With this software, users can manage inventory, sell products directly from mobile devices, visualize sales analytics and manage customer relationships.
In addition to practical features such as coupons, receipts, cash drawers, and barcode scanners, Loyverse also offers modules for customer communication and sales analytics. Perhaps most importantly, the tool provides analytics for its customer database and helps you identify your most loyal customers with its own loyalty program framework, awarding them through a points system based on the purchasing activity.
Price Tag: The standard features are all free, with paid add-ons for advanced inventory, employee management, and support functions.
Overview: RepeatRewards is a multi-channel marketing and customer loyalty management platform designed for primarily eCommerce businesses. The software includes tools for automating campaigns, tracking member activity, and implementing loyalty programs in-store or digitally. Loyalty program members receive access to exclusive promotion and are encouraged to play games and engage on social media to earn rewards.
Member activity can be tracked through custom mobile apps, standalone terminals, or integrated POS systems. The apps also enable businesses to send automated messages and push notifications to notify nearby members of upcoming offers, events, etc. Additionally, RepeatRewards offers multi-channel marketing tools for segmented campaigns through email, SMS, direct mail, or over app.
Price Tag: Contact for custom pricing, but popular feature packages range from $74 monthly for the basic Track plan to $549 monthly for the All-In plan.
Overview: The Customer Loyalty Cloud is one of 3 clouds offered by this company, including the Referral Marketing and User-Generated clouds. The CL cloud offers a variety of loyalty solutions, including:
- Online loyalty through the online company store and rewards points systems
- In-app loyalty through a custom-built business application
- Social and behavioral loyalty through social media engagement, reviews and referrals, etc.
- Paid membership loyalty with multi-tier program management capabilities
- Omni-channel loyalty for a more well-rounded loyalty program
Additionally, Annex Cloud offers features like customer segmentation, identity management and security, and loyalty behavioral analytics.
Price Tag: Contact for pricing.
Overview: Influitive’s AdvocateHub is a customer-oriented incentive tool that, put most simply, identifies repeat customers and engages them with a rewards program. Customers can connect to the program via social channels, on-site, through e-mail, a CRM or even paid channels.
The software allows users to build an online community for customers to share and discuss their product experiences and queries; this provides an abundance of testimonials for your company. As customers participate in targeted actions, they earn points and rewards for their activity. Essentially, they become brand ambassadors voluntarily and at no additional cost to you.
Price Tag: Contact for pricing.
Overview: Yotpo is aimed towards eCommerce stores and retail businesses. The software utilizes product reviews to create their sales-boosting incentives. Companies collect, analyze, manage and respond to user-generated content from a single platform, with integrations with social platforms and third-party rating systems, such as Google Seller Ratings.
Yotpo’s functionality is fairly broad, covering email marketing, social marketing, automation, analytics, and even search engine optimization (SEO). That being said, it stands out in its focus on building rapport via social proof and a strong emphasis on social platforms in general.
Price Tag: A free Starter and multiple Premium plan options are offered, with the Growth plan for small businesses starting at $29 monthly.
Overview: Qualtrics Customer Experience uses a unique predictive intelligence engine to extract deep insights and predict the key drivers of a customer experience. Information about your customers can be gathered through transactional, pulse, and other kinds of surveys, among others, as well as NPS, or Net Promoter Score.
A centralized platform allows for multi-channel management with an overview of crucial metrics, ticketing, automated workflows, and respondent management automation. Working both with customer acquisition (through lead generation tools) and customer retention, Qualtrics is a good solution for marketers seeking tools to stay with the customer throughout their journey.
Price Tag: $299 annual starting price.
Overview: SurveyMonkey is an online survey software that can help improve customer satisfaction and engagement by reaching out to different audiences to gain insight into their preferences. Users can create custom surveys, quick polls, or request customer or employee feedback.
Data collected can be analyzed through the software’s data analysis and reporting features and exported in various formats. SurveyMonkey also enables market research and competitive analysis, resulting in a well-rounded set of features.
Price Tag: Freemium; that is, free as a starter package. Standard Monthly, Standard Annual, Advantage, and Premier plans are offered between $37 and $99 a month, ranging in advanced features such as additional user accounts, A/B question types, and data extraction through third-party software.
Overview: Customer support is a major component of CX, and one that Zendesk specializes in managing through a variety of marketing channels. Zendesk is a suite of support apps with chat, call center, and community forum and knowledge base features, allowing even a small business to offer an industry-class help desk as a resource. Upgradeable advanced tools include answer bots, CSAT surveys, web SDK, and more.
Customer queries can be accessed from almost any channel via pre-defined ticket responses, web widgets, and customer search history, allowing you to respond faster and with the right context. Upgradeable advanced tools include answer bots, CSAT surveys, web SDK, and more. Zendesk also offers analytics related to customer satisfaction and integrated with existing customer service workflows and other apps.
Price Tag: Annual plans range from $5 monthly for the Essential plan to $199 for the Elite plan. Support, Guide, Chat, Connect, and Talk packages also range in price according to the features included; some are offered free in their basic edition with a purchase of Zendesk Support.
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Originally published August 16, 2018, updated January 24, 2020
Tags: martech marketing automation tools Customer Retention Customer Retention Optimization