11 Ways to Improve Customer Retention and Grow a Strong Business
When you’re running a business it’s easy to get swept up in the idea that you need to get more and more new customers. While getting new customers is vital to any business and should be part of your strategy, new customer acquisition isn’t the be-all and end-all when it comes to sales and marketing.
All too often businesses overlook customer retention and returning customers in their long term plan. This is a mistake.
Not only are your existing customers a reliable source of revenue, they’re proven to like and use your products and services. This makes them a far more viable market to target and means they can provide a far greater return on investment when it comes to marketing spend.
If you want to master the art of customer retention here’s how you do it.
1. Develop your brand
Chances are you’ve got at least one or two competitors that provide a similar product or service to you, and as much as you might like to think you’re the best in the world at what you do, the reality is the competition is probably closer than you think. If that’s the case, why do customers return to the same company time and time again rather than trying out competitors? It’s because they like the company on an emotional level. And, when someone likes your company on an emotional level it is your brand that they are engaged with.
When it comes to developing your brand it is a good idea to think about it as the personality of your business. A common mistake businesses make is trying to have a brand that appeals to everyone.
Newsflash – that’s never going to happen.
There’s no one that is universally liked by everyone and your brand is no different. Instead, decide who you want your returning customers to be and develop a brand that will appeal to them. Get it right and you’ll have customers that stay with you for years.
If you want customers to use your business time and again, you need to stay in touch with them so you’re at the front of their mind when it comes to making their next purchase. If your business supplies something the customer needs on a regular basis, this isn’t too much of a challenge as the customer will be getting in touch with you every couple of weeks anyway. If you sell something people only need every six months, year, or even every five years, staying in touch with your customers can be a lot harder.
An effective way to do this is to have a good content marketing and social media strategy. You can keep in touch with your customers by providing them with valuable information and articles they really enjoy. This is much better than bombarding them with boring sales emails.
3. Provide Excellent Customer Service
When it comes to customers the number one thing that will drive them away is bad customer service. Today there are more customer service channels than ever including social media, email, and the telephone. With so many different ways for customers to air their grievances, it’s easy to let something slip through the net. As soon as that happens you’ve lost a customer.
As your business grows it might be wise to outsource your customer service lines to prevent that from happening. At alldayPA we specialise in handling customer service calls and provide an easy and affordable way to ensure that your customers will always receive a fantastic customer experience whenever they call you.
4. Build a community
People like to feel like they’re part of something. If you can make that something a community built around your business then there’s a good chance customers will want to stay with you.
In order to build this sense of community you need to let your customers get in touch with each other. You can do this is a number of ways from having a forum on your website or a third party site like reddit, to running events and meet ups that are exclusively for your customers and clients.
Once this community gains momentum, not only will people not want to leave, other people will want to join. The more you can give the community surrounding your business, the better it will be.
5. Add value
It doesn’t matter how good your product or service is, it will become normal to your customers once they have been exposed to it for a while. Once the service seems normal people start to question if they really need it and if it is right for them. That’s why you always need to be adding value for your customers.
If you offer a subscription software and your customers suddenly receive a fantastic new tool at no additional charge to they’re going to be pretty impressed. If you sell sewing machines and you surprise your customers with a free PDF guide to making their own clothes they’ll likely think of you when it comes to their next purchase. If you can add more value for your customers you’ll build loyalty and improve retention.
6. Reward loyalty
If someone’s been using your company for a year that is something worth celebrating. If you want them to be with you for another year you should consider rewarding that loyalty.
When it comes to rewarding loyalty it doesn’t even have to be something that big – it really is the thought that counts. Offering your longest service customers incentives like discount codes and first access to new products shows them that you really appreciate their continued business. In return, they’ll keep using your company as they know they’re a valued customer.
7. Personalise the experience
Nothing makes you feel like a valued customer like getting something special, just for you from a business. The great thing about personalisation from a business’s point of view is that it can actually be an incredibly straight forward process.
If you have your customers name and date of birth then why not set up a way that your CRM automatically sends them an email on their birthday? It’s easy to do and will make the customer feel noticed by your business.
Another way you can personalise things for your customers is in your marketing. If you use email marketing or social media, look closely at what people click and what people ignore. Put them on a mailing list that gives them more the kind of content they’ve previously clicked on. You can rinse and repeat this process until your customers are receiving content that is highly personalised to them that you know they will engage with.
8. Master cross-selling and up-selling
If someone’s already bought from you they’ve shown they like your company and what you do. That means they’re much more likely to buy your other products than someone who is a total stranger to your business.
If you have a range of products and services it should always be a business objective to move customers up the ladder so they are using more of your products or a more advanced version of your service. How you choose to do this is up to you. You could choose the subtle route and show the benefits of your other products via case studies on social media, or you could get straight to the point and phone your existing customers to pitch them your new product. Different strategies will work for different businesses and industries. Find the one that works best for you and run with it.
9. Get the price right
When it comes to improving customer retention getting the price right doesn’t necessarily mean being the cheapest, it simply means finding the price that is right for your customers.
If your USP is that you’re a discount wholesaler, then yes of course you’ll want to make sure your prices are the best. If you’re a luxury firm that’s meant to be providing the best quality in the market, then the right price for you could be more expensive than most, but no so expensive your existing customers leave.
Find the price that your customers are happy to pay time and time again, and don’t suddenly enforce new higher prices on your existing customers unless you can really justify it.
10. Make it easy to repeat purchases
If you sell a consumable product that people buy on a regular basis then the easier it is to buy the second time round the better.
The ultimate form of this is a subscription service. Simply let your customers set up a direct debit and your product is delivered to their door at regular intervals. Companies like dollar shave club have grown rapidly using this method, and it works well because it’s so easy for the customer.
Another option is to have an app for your business where your customers can save their address and their credit card or paypal details. When they need to buy more they just hit the buy button and the order is delivered straight to them.
The more barriers you can remove for customers when it comes to making a repeat purchase, the more likely they are to buy again. Focus on a faster user journey and you’ll see results.
11. Don’t forget where you started
Your customers came to you for a reason. If your business changes too much customers might find that reason is no longer there and go to one of your competitors.
As your business grows it is easy to get swept up in things that are new like bigger offices, new technology, and new products. While it’s important to grow it’s also important you don’t lose what made your business great. If you became popular because you were a family run business that always had time for its customers, that USP could easily be lost if you grow to a 200 staff business across multiple sites.
Work out the core values that bring customers to you, and make sure they aren’t lost along the way.
At alldayPA we value our customers and always strive to provide the best service. We have many clients that have been with us since our inception over 15 years ago which goes to show we know a thing or two about customer retention.
If you want help providing better customer service to your customers then get in touch.
We offer a range of services from outsourcing your customer services lines to virtual switchboard and basically anything to do with answering the phone. Call 0345 056 8888 or find out more at alldayPA.com.