Customer retention is where the real riches lay
Making a sale is like running through the finish line after completing several laps. It’s a burst of relief — a mark of achievement in the rigorous sales process — but it isn’t the be-all and end-all. There’s still work to be done in this race.
Although the sales funnel ends with closed deals, you still need to be selling yourself to that customer. We’re not simply talking getting your customers to invest more; we’re talking about investing in them and getting them to stick around.
It’s just as important to engage and maintain excellent relationships with current customers just as you do when you’re first introducing them to your product or service. Customers are more comfortable spending with companies they have dealt with before — and more often than not, those return customers usually spend more than during the initial sale. A Harvard Business School study, The Economics of E-Loyalty, once stated that increasing customer retention rates by just 5% can increase profits by 25% to 95%. Even better, building this loyalty helps you build good rapport, which can boost your credibility and make it easier to reel in new customers.
From simply having great customer service to blogging about your product or service, there are a myriad of ways to continue selling to your customer base beyond the money.
If you want your customers to keep coming back, you have to stay at the top of their minds. A great way to do this is by having a blog, a newsletter or some type of content that informs and keeps them engaged with your company.
When customers first jump on board, encourage them to sign up for your email list and follow you on social media. It’s a great way to give your customers insight into the industry and offer detailed updates they can always refer back to, leaving them feeling secure with their decision to work with you.
Excel in customer service
Good isn’t good enough.
You’ll likely be dealing with a variety of customer personalities, so going above and beyond to make sure you cater to an individual’s specific needs is important.
And let’s face it, there are going to be problems, but you can control whether or not it escalates. If you do it right, the angriest customers can often turn into your biggest advocate.
“It is no secret that customer retention is important for any business. When an unsatisfied customer contacts your business about an issue, providing them with a prompt response to the problem is critical,” said Antonella Weidman from WebTek, a web design company.
“Start by acknowledging their concern and then sincerely apologize for the problem they encountered. Let the customer know you have addressed the issue with your team and offer to reimburse them in some way. Don’t forget to remind them that they are a valued customer and that you appreciate their business. You want the customer to remember that if something comes up, you have their back,” Weidman said.
SchoolKeep, a customer education platform, provides a personalized onboarding process in which they learn about their customers’ business goals, problems that need solving and KPIs before getting them started on their platform, said Carlos Russo, its communications and PR manager.
This insight allows them to develop an action plan to identify how best to engage their audience, and it allows them to respond more effectively whenever they encounter a customer service inquiry.
Treat them like royalty
Having a loyalty rewards program is the sugar on top.
Rewarding customers for utilizing your product more can be a win-win situation.
Steve Silberberg of Fitpacking, which takes people on backpacking adventure vacations to get fit and lose weight, offers his customers rewards for every trip they take.
“For every trip someone takes with us, they bank $100 and receive $100 off their next trip,” he said. “Their bankroll is cumulative so if someone takes five trips, their bankroll is $500, and they get to take $500 off of their next trip.”
Offer employees special training
Train your employees specifically on how to retain customers.
ChalkBites, for example, is a mobile app for employees to do so.
“We created a mobile tool where we can push videos to our employees. We deliver short training videos in less than 10 minutes, with an assigned completion date and a short quiz at the end to measure that they learned from the video. 2015 was our most profitable year in three years in part due to better customer retention,” said Steve Grubbs, founder of Victory Enterprises, a consulting and communications firm.
The app gives them short and sweet reminders of how to deal with unhappy customers, how to properly write an email and similar issues.
Slip in a survey
Asking for feedback can even make your customer feel appreciated. It lets them know that you care about their opinions, and it shows that you value your product enough to request feedback in order to continue to grow and make the product better for them.
Some great times to issue a survey would be after their first purchase, after they contact a member of your team or every quarter.
Some questions to consider asking:
- What did you think about this product?
- How do you use this product?
- How would you rate this product?
- How can we make this product better?
The thing to keep in mind when creating loyal customers is that you need to be memorable. Make the sale a continual win by creating a whole experience, rather than a one-time encounter. We know, it’s easy to get wrapped up in bringing in new customers because money is an easy motivator, but attending to the current ones reaps greater long-term benefits. As more competition sprouts up online, you’re going to want to do everything you can to stay at the top of your customer’s minds.