The long-term success of your company depends on your clients. While you may focus on reaching ever more new customers, do you actually care about what your current clients do and think? If not, you should definitely become acquainted with customer retention strategies.
What is customer retention? In short, it is how well you manage and keep your customers and actually encourage them to come back and buy your products or services constantly. Believe it or not, retaining customers costs less than acquiring new ones and generates more profit. According to Bain&Company research, increasing customer retention rates by only 5% increases profits by 25% to 95% . So, it is a game definitely worth playing. In this article we present 10 customer retention techniques that will help you keep your clients close and boost your customer retention rate. But first…
…why should you bother with your current customers?
You have probably asked yourself that question. The customer bought my product, the money is banked, time to convince someone else. In reality, the existing customer who has already bought and used your product might recommend it to their friends if they are happy with it. They are already educated about your product and company, trust has been established and you have the client’s details in your database, ergo – you know what they like and want. Instead of repeating the process of getting a complete stranger to this point, it is more profitable to invest in clients you already have. After all, they are the walking adverts. Make a customer happy and you can be sure that at least a few other people will learn about it.
Customer retention gives you a quality insight on how satisfied your customers are, not only with your product/service, but more importantly with your customer service. Most clients who leave do so because they are unhappy with the way a company treated them. Unfortunately, in most cases you will not know what happened. Perhaps they have been disappointed in the past so it is easier for them to just switch to the competition rather than fill out complaints and tell you what went wrong. But you can be 100% sure that they will tell their friends or share a bad review on social media. With one lost client you can lose plenty more.
If you want to succeed in the long term, follow a few customer retention management rules and boost client retention rate in your company.
10 customer retention strategies to introduce to your company
1. Maintain the highest standard of customer service
It has been proven that people are more effected by negative events than positive ones. In practice, that means your clients are willing to dwell on anything negative connected to your company, and to comment on it, both in real life and on social media.
The value of very good customer service cannot be underestimated. Even if the client is not happy with the product, their attitude towards the company can remain highly positive if they are approached by apologetic staff, willing to do anything to keep them satisfied. Eventually, the negative event can be changed into profit.
Having said that, you need to remember that customer satisfaction can be achieved by exceptional employees. Appreciate your staff, because their positive approach to their job and to customer service will result in how clients see your company. Anyone who represents your business and has direct contact with customers needs to have a positive and professional attitude.
The customer service team needs tools for handling client communication as fast as possible and without asking too many questions. Each client has to know that the company recognizes them, knows their shopping history and will solve any problems they might have quickly. Remember that sometimes treating someone as unimportant may lose you not only this client, but potential future profit and maybe your reputation (you never know when an unsatisfied customer decides to share their story and “warn” others).
2. Build and constantly maintain a relationship with the customer
Use customer service to build trust and, over time, create a relationship with clients. If a certain customer trusts you, even if you make a mistake, they will be willing to forgive you and, instead of complaining, simply admit that it sometimes happens even to the best companies.
After the first purchase you receive a lot of information about a client. Use it to keep in touch, send discount codes, special promotions or small gifts. All this gives the customer a reason to remember your company, come back in the future, forget about the competition and maybe recommend you to friends.
3. Personalization is key
No one likes to be treated like everybody else, a part of the crowd. Each customer is different and requires a different approach. Nowadays, clients demand a customized shopping experience. Personalized messages and discounts can make a difference between more business with a particular client and losing them forever.
4. Appreciate your clients
If your clients are happy with your products, share something nice about your company or simply come back for more – show them some love. Take a proactive approach. It can be something simple, such as a discount code, better promotions for the most loyal customers or “thank you” messages. Make an effort and appreciation will be mutual.
5. Clearly define and set customer expectations
You need to show clients what they can expect of you at a very early stage of your relationship. A little trick: set expectations lower, and surprise the client with a quicker reaction. In a worst case scenario, this will also give you more time to deliver on your promises. Here’s a simple example: in an automatic response for customer enquiries, promise a response within 24 hours, even if your support team can handle the message quicker. If the client gets the response after an hour or two, they will be impressed by the fast reaction. This also means , you give your team enough time to get things done, even if someone gets sick and their duties have to be passed to someone else. Remember, always stick to your word and meet the deadlines you have set yourself.
6. Use social media
Nothing boosts the customer retention rate like good handling of social media. Your clients are probably on social media right now, so use that opportunity. Depending on the type of your business, start official accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, Snapchat and whatever else you can think of. Check what channels your customers are interested in and communicate with them via those platforms. Not only will you be able to reach them, you will also learn their opinions about your company and encourage them to share and become brand ambassadors. Don’t forget about both mobile and desktop versions, adjust the language and graphic design, and don’t be afraid to be direct and personal.
7. Collect feedback
Don’t be afraid to ask customers what they really think about your company. Catching mistakes early on gives you room for improvement. You can avoid negative public feedback by asking questions on a personal level. You can reach out to clients via short messages or a survey such as Net Promoter Score (NPS), which measures customer satisfaction. Ask for customer service experience; do they like your products? What would they change? Genuine customer feedback is worth more than expensive market research, and will make your clients feel important and empowered to make a change.
Information from surveys together with aforementioned transactional data stored within the loyalty management system allows you to gain a deeper understanding of your customers, which is crucial in customer retention management.
8. Keep your website, mobile app and purchasing process customer-friendly
The easier your shopping process is, the better. Clients need to understand how your website/application works, and the payment process needs to give them plenty of options to choose from. Any difficulties on the way and you will experience abandoned carts and unpaid orders. Simplify processes as much as possible, run tests with focus groups, introduce more language options and make the content understandable for every client. The worst you can do is to make your customers feel stupid!
9. Become the customer’s source of know-how
Be an expert in your business and educate your customers, so that it is you to whom they turn for advice and help in the event of problems. Use positive testimonials about your products, maybe start a blog with insightful posts. Sell not you’re your product/services, but also your knowledge.
10. Customer-management platforms
The more customers you get, the more complicated it becomes to handle them all in a professional manner. Consider introducing customer-management tools to your company, to help your employees and provide clients with high-quality service. An appropriate platform will manage your client database, send automatic messages, suggest promotions, and issue payment reminders. Customer retention plans will be more professionally manageable and give you more time to focus on different tasks.
Customer retention management leads to loyalty
Marketers usually distinguish two terms: customer retention and customer loyalty. We already know that customer retention is defined as the ability to retain a customer for a specified period of time, and is presented as a number/percentage of customers who are still active. Customer loyalty allows you to measure how often a particular customer uses the products and services offered by your company.
The similarity and dependency between those two terms is easily noticeable, as it is not possible to create customer loyalty without an effective retention strategy. Acquiring and maintaining comprehensive customer data facilitates predictive analytics, which make it possible to identify trends in customer behavior, reduce their churn effectively, and later run a successful loyalty program.
Read also about our Loyalty Programs Management System