What comes first on your monthly sales meeting agenda? Do you celebrate the increase in new business? Or do you review orders from existing customers?
If you spend more time reviewing new business opportunities than you do taking care of existing customers, you are not alone. After all, new-business sales show that the business is expanding. And it’s always great to know you are winning against your competitors.
However, it is much easier and cheaper to retain a customer than to gain a new one. And, without customer retention, your sales from new customers will merely replace those lost due to customers switching to a new supplier.
Fortunately, keeping existing customers on-side is relatively easy, but you must commit to improving customer care. Here are ten straightforward ways that you can retain customers by keeping them happy.
1. Learn About Your Customers
You need to understand who your customers are to connect with them and meet their needs. The first thing to do is learn more about the person who typically buys your product or service. You can discover your customers’ basic demographics by looking at the web analytics on your website. You might need to do more market research, though, to get the full picture of who your customers are. The crucial thing is that you need to create a persona of your typical customer and then target your customer care efforts at that type of individual.
2. Stay in Touch
You can’t stay friends with somebody with whom you never have a conversation. So, make a point of periodically reaching out to your customer base. You can start by following up on new sales with a thank you note and a request for feedback. You can then stay in touch by sending newsletters, special offers, and making the occasional courtesy phone call. Keeping in touch with the customer base will keep your brand at the forefront of people’s minds. Your regular communication might be all it takes to nudge an existing customer into making another purchase.
3. Get Personal
Try to make your service as personal as possible. Use people’s names in emails and letters, for example. Send seasonal greetings to customers. Remembering customer’s birthdays will also help to make your brand seem more human. And, of course, you can engage with customers via social media. Faceless corporations and robots don’t make friends. However, companies that present a friendly face and get personal with their customers can generate a loyal following.
4. Be Transparent
Don’t hide anything about your business. Instead, be clear about your offer, prices, and how you deliver your product or service. Have a clearly defined process for dealing with complaints and other issues that your customers may have. Even unhappy customers can be retained if you are honest and deal with any problems quickly and efficiently. However, if a customer suspects that they have been misled, you will have no chance of getting any repeat business from them.
5. Create A Loyalty Program
You are probably happy to offer a discount to reel in a new customer. But do you provide any rewards to your loyal customers? One of the best ways to encourage repeat business is to set up a loyalty program that offers discounts or special offers to existing customers. Loyalty programs provide incentives for customers to stick with you, and they are a great way to give something back. Loyalty incentives will also help increase customer referrals, which will boost new business sales.
6. Reply to Queries Promptly
No one likes to be left waiting for a reply. So, respond promptly to all types of communication. Set response time targets and monitor performance against those targets. It will also help if you let people know how long it will be before they can expect an answer from you. Responding promptly to customer queries will help you keep on top of your inbox, too. A well-managed inbox will allow you to act on the more serious customer issues faster.
7. Special Offers
Offering special prices to existing customers will help tie them into your brand. These deals could be occasional one-off special offers. Or you could hold a regular seasonal sale. Offering reduced prices will reduce your margins. However, special discounts will incentivize customers to make more purchases in the future. Be sure to put adequate effort into communicating your special offers to your base, though. Your customers can’t take advantage of offers if they don’t know they exist.
8. Build a Community
Depending on the type of product or service you well, you might benefit from creating a community around your brand. User days, for example, are great for building brand loyalty in some sectors. Or you could encourage a conversation about your products on social media. When you have a loyal community surrounding your brand, it is much easier and cheaper to promote new products to your customer base. People also enjoy belonging to a community, so that it will also increase customer retention.
9. Do not Over-Promise
Over-selling products may gain you more first-time customers. But, if customers are disappointed in what they receive, they will never buy anything else from you. It is generally better to under-promise and over-deliver than it is to oversell. People pleasantly surprised by a service or product will be likely to tell their friends about the experience. And people who get more than they expected will be more likely to buy from you again.
10. Be Generous
Grocery stores give away free samples because they know that those who accept the gift will feel obliged to buy something in return. Any business can use this theory of reciprocity to make customers happy and encourage more repeat sales. You don’t need to offer free product samples like grocery stores do, though. You could, instead, send existing customers valuable information in the form of a free e-book, or you could offer free online training courses or hold free seminars.
Almost any kind of business will benefit from keeping customers happy. Repeat sales may not feature heavily in your business model. Even so, satisfied customers leave great reviews and will be more likely to refer your business to a friend. It Is not difficult to build trust with your customers and develop a relationship with them. When you do work on putting a smile on the customers’ faces, you will find that they reciprocate with more sales and referrals.