While finding new customers is important, if you aren’t also focusing on keeping the customers you have, you’re missing out on the opportunity to make a lot more money. Repeat customers often purchase more, and as their loyalty grows, they become brand evangelists, sending new customers your way. Find a few customer retention strategies that really work, and you’ll see your bottom line looking healthier and healthier!
Of course, not every strategy will work for every business. Below, I’ve listed a number of customer retention strategies, but you don’t have to use them all. Pick and choose what will work best for your business, based on your customer needs.
Brand new to the business world? Check out this course on how to get your first paying customer.
Start a Blog and Get Social
The web gives businesses an awesome opportunity to stay connected with customers 24/7. A big mistake that most brands make online is only talking about themselves. Your blog and social accounts should be something more. Yes, you want to talk about your latest products or promote a sale or discount you’re offering, but that’s not a good way to actually connect with customers. Mix in helpful information and conversation. For example, if you are a graphic designer selling your services, your blog might include a post called “The Top Ten Coolest Designs of 2014″ or you might help someone on Twitter who asks a design-related question.
In other words, engage your customers. Be a helpful, interesting friend, not a logo. When people begin to see you as a friend, they begin to know, like, and trust you–and that makes them want to buy from you.
Surprise and Delight
Last year, a friend of mine bought a Dell laptop through their payment plan program. He ended up paying it off early, and about a month later, Dell sent him a note in the mail congratulating him, along with a $50 gift card. It was something he didn’t expect at all, and, in his own words, he will be a Dell customer for life.
Now, you don’t have to give away gift cards to surprise and delight your customers. Simply brainstorm some ways to show your customers how much you appreciate them. For example, one of the local businesses in my area has occasionally customer appreciation events where they serve free coffee and donuts for breakfast or free hot dogs for lunch.
No one likes to feel like a number. Instead of just selling, selling, selling, give each customer a personalized experience. Make them feel special. Ho can you do this?
- Remember details from your conversations together, like the fact that their birthday is next week or they have a son about to graduation from high school.
- Find a shared interested to talk about, like your favorite sports team or experiences with your kids.
- Meet needs before they’re even expressed. For example, when someone is waiting at your salon, don’t ask them if they want a glass of water. Bring it to them.
The more personal you can get with your customers, the better. Treat them like they’re special, and they’ll keep coming back for more.
Promote Loyalty with Programs
Loyalty programs are amazing for customer retention. People love “free,” so even something extremely low-value can seem like a huge win. And it’s a win for you too, since it means they’ll buy more often from you.
For example, let’s say that you offer a punch card where customers get a free cup of coffee for every 20 they buy at your cafe. Normally, someone might stop in once or twice a month, but would also get coffee from other places or make it at home. But the loyalty program means that they’re working toward a free cup by buying from you. So, someone has the mindset “Well, I have to get my coffee somewhere. I might as well work toward that free cup.”
We had two coffee shops on campus when I was in college, and people always went to the one over the other because they had loyalty cares. I would walk out of my way to get coffee there, so I could work toward that free cup. The only reason people went to the other shop was that it was open more often.
Even better: can you offer some kind of VIP program? Like I noted, people love feeling like their special. Even the VIP member designation without any perks can help someone feel special. Give them some fringe benefits and they’ll be much more loyal as customers.
Along with loyalty programs, consider offering a customer referral program. Udemy’s course Customer Referral Programs: What You Need to Know is a great place to start learning more about these kinds of programs.
Fix Problems with Class
No matter how hard you work, there will be problems. When you have a customer with a problem, this is actually a great chance to turn them into a loyal fan. All you have to do is fix the problem quickly and with class.
This starts with an apology, but it is even more important to figure out a solution and take measures to make sure the problems don’t happen ever again. Communicate with the customer quickly, even if you don’t have an answer yet. The longer someone waits to hear from you, the madder they’ll get.
When fixing a problem, don’t just “make the person whole.” Go above and beyond to give them some special treatment for their troubles. For example, if a customer ordered a pink vase, but you shipped a purple one, don’t just send over the pink vase as an exchange. Also send over a matching pink picture frame as a way of apologizing for the inconvenience.
Want to learn even more customer management strategies? Check out this customer relationship management course. This customer development course is also a great option for entrepreneurs who want to create stronger relationships with customers.