In the race to build up your new company, the focus can fall solely on getting new customers rather than retaining those you already have. Statistics from Gartner show us that 80% of a company’s future revenue will come from just 20% of its existing customers. No business, no matter whether it’s a start-up or global corporation, can afford to ignore its existing customers. Not only this, but businesses should be going the extra mile to retain their customers and place them at the very heart of their company.

Customers want to know their feedback will be listened to and incorporated into your product development plans. They want to be kept up to date with latest product enhancements, but they don’t want to feel like they’ve been sold an off-the-shelf product, they want to know it’s a perfect fit for them.

Businesses need to constantly engage with their customers and provide rewards for being loyal. Agile development is providing companies with the ideal opportunity to place customers at the heart of their product roadmap. Set up focus groups for customers to meet your developer team, provide invaluable feedback on your product and give them the opportunity to get some more in-depth technical advice and tips. It’s essential that you understand your clients’ markets and strategies so you have more insight into their exact needs for your product. Working with a dedicated customer success team can provide customers with that one-on-one time to talk through their use of the product and any issues that they may have.

Businesses are increasingly using their own business analytics to engage with their customers and develop a relationship that will lead to increased customer loyalty. According to analyst house IDC, the global business analytics market grew 14 percent in 2011.

Personalisation is the key to engaging with your customers. In today’s, society the buyer is in the driving seat and expects to be treated as an individual. With a good CRM system in place, you’ll have all the information you need about clients and prospects at your fingertips, including not only email communications with them but relevant information pulled from social networks. This will help you uncover far more information about prospects and customers than ever before and enable you to tailor your communications to them.

For example, provide personalised emails and forms so people feel like they’re dealing with a human being. These should reflect the previous conversations had with the customer to show the company is listening to what they’re saying. Personalise the website and greet visitors by name, based upon previous historical engagement (using cookies, etc.). Personalised levels of customer service should be rolled out across every channel from the customer success team to social media. Delivering quick and personal responses helps customers to get the most out of your product.

This level of dedication provides a mutually beneficial relationship between the customer and business. Customer input enables you to personalise and perfect their experience of your company and product, whilst customers get what they want out of the product. All the tweaks and improvements you make along the way as a result of customer feedback will also improve future customers’ experiences.

A vital point to remember is that customer engagement and success should not be the responsibility of a single team - namely your customer success or support teams.  Every team in your organisation needs to interact and collaborate so that customers receive a unified response. CRM and MDM platforms will help align the efforts of the marketing and sales teams. Content collaboration software provides a platform to coordinate day-to-day activities, projects and communications within the company and beyond the firewall with external organisations. Ideas will no longer get lost on people’s desktops or in their inboxes, but will instead get shared and developed.

At AKQA, an independent digital marketing agency, Huddle is used to help more than 1,000 employees across its 11 global offices to work together on worldwide campaigns and pitches. The platform also gives clients such as Nike, Gap, Volkswagen and full visibility of project timelines, how a campaign is progressing and what documents, artwork and images require their approval.Increasingly, it’s now becoming the IT department’s role to deliver this kind of technology.

The IT and product teams are now playing a more front-line role in keeping customers happy. As businesses are no longer basing digital customer engagement solely around email, the IT department’s role has evolved from maintaining outlook, to finding innovative technologies that can enable businesses to communicate with customer best.