Customer Retention Strategies
Customer retention is key to the longevity and financial health of your business. Fostering loyalty can help you build a customer base that powers growth and expansion.
Customer acquisition is expensive, so it’s no wonder smart small business owners are interested in customer retention strategies. When you’re able to attract and hold onto customers, you can focus on providing better products and services for the people who appreciate you.
What’s behind a solid customer retention strategy? It takes a sound business plan, an effective marketing operation, and the ability to transform mishaps into miracles.Tweet This When these three forces converge, customers don’t just notice – they tell their friends about your business. Here are 5 tips for business owners interested in retaining customers.
1. Solve a Problem
Before we delve into the intricacies of marketing to B2B customers, you need to answer this question honestly: are you solving your customers’ problems?
Many entrepreneurs and small businesses fail because they launch an idea that they think is amazing (i.e. organic vegan gluten-free multivitamins for small-breed dogs!) instead of developing products and services that solve a real need for real customers (i.e. flea medicine for dogs).
Make sure your business model is firmly planted in reality so that customers will be interested in what you’re selling.
2. Provide Real Value
Once you’ve established that your product or service is needed in the marketplace, it’s time to focus on the value your business provides. Remember that value does not always equal the lowest price, but instead implies that the experience is good for the customer and the business.
Value is about exceeding customers’ expectations from their very first interaction with your company through the buying process and beyond. Maybe your website offers the easiest interface or you include free tech support for the product. Customers appreciate convenience and may even pay more for your goods or services because of it.
One of the best ways to determine if your business is offering enough value is to take stock of repeat customers. If people aren’t coming back after their initial purchase, your competitors may be providing more value.
3. Keep in Constant Communication
Whether you’re calling clients every so often or sending them a monthly newsletter, it’s important to stay in constant communication. The last thing you want is the customer to feel like they’ve been left in the dust. They might stop using your product or just get fed up with the lack of service. So check in with them.
Assign each prospect or client a customer experience steward. For smaller accounts that have potential to grow, a “How Are We Doing?” email can go a long way towards keeping your company top-of-mind.
4. Respond to Negative Reviews
Your business will eventually get a negative review. No matter how dedicated you are to making every sale an effortless transaction, mistakes and misunderstandings are a part of life. Some customers will have legitimate complaints, while others may seem unreasonable. Either way, you need to remember that public reviews can be seen by other customers or potential clients.
According to the 2014 Local Consumer Review Survey by Brightlocal, 72% of respondents say that positive reviews make them more likely to trust a local business. The real surprise of the survey was that 88% of consumers said they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Keeping these figures in mind, it’s essential that business owners respond to reviews in a professional manner. Here’s a good plan of action:
- Apologize for the inconvenience
- Fix the issue
- Re-iterate your brand’s/company’s commitment to customer satisfaction
- Contact the customer to follow-up
Even if the customer who left the negative review doesn’t appreciate the effort, others who come across the conversation online should recognize that you made an attempt to address their concerns.
5. Make Regular Customers Your Top Priority
So often in small business you’re focused on landing that new client or launching a new product. With so much going on, and so much pressure to grow, it can be easy to neglect your loyal customers.
If you abandon your regular customers in favor of what’s new and exciting, you risk losing the stable core of your business. Customer retention is a sign of your overall business health. Regular and repeat customers should be treated like the VIPs they are.
- Make sure existing customer outreach is built into your sales funnel and your marketing strategy
- Schedule routine follow-ups, phone calls, surveys, and giveaways for your repeat customers
- Automate email outreach when it’s been a while since a customer has made a purchase
What Customers Expect from Your Business
It may seem like customer expectations are always changing. Clients want cheaper products, faster turnaround times, or special treatment. However, there are several things that never go out of style.
In most industries, there is a certain amount of information that needs to be provided to a customer so they can make a purchasing decision. Don’t hide your prices or the terms and conditions of working with you. With competitors only a mouse-click away, you can’t afford to hide pertinent details.
The more secure people feel doing business with you, the easier it is for them to pull the trigger on a purchase. From an online perspective, this involves purchasing an SSL certificate for your website and encrypting transactions. Let customers know that their information will be kept confidential and will not be sold to third parties.
Reviews and Testimonials
People want to see evidence that your company is reliable. Customer reviews, testimonials, and case studies can help them feel more secure about working with you. Publish this feedback on your website, in brochures, and anywhere else people are likely to see it.
Photo Credit: WR36, Twenty20