Retaining customers is imperative to the success of your business. Some customers will be easy to retain, while others will need some work. If you don’t have any structured measures in place, you are likely to lose those customers who are willing to shop around. So, how do you keep your customers happy and have them coming back for more?
Let's take a look at 24 ways to increase your retention rate.
1. Improve customer service
This one is kind of obvious, but if you want your customers to stick around, you need to give them a great experience. You want them to walk away and feel great about that interaction. What can you do to make the process as easy for the customer as possible? Processes and procedures. I know, I know, you probably think this stuff is boring. But seriously, we can’t emphasise enough how important they are. They help your staff deliver great service every single time.
2. After sales support
Second to having great customer service, having a support team. Why is it that you can get through to a sales team quicker than you can get through to customer support? Retaining a customer is arguably more important than getting new ones. Having a great support team will help to do just that. Make sure your customers know exactly where to go to get help. Don't make them dig through your website to find support. If you do choose to outsource your support team, think about the process and the experience your customers will have when dealing with the support team. Ensuring they have a good experience will help retain customers.
3. Effective complaints handling process
You need to have an effective complaints handling system for when issues arise. Having a complaints handling system in place that your support team can take the customer through is important. We aren't about to tell you that the customer is always right, because we all know that's not true...Karen. But, the customer should always feel valued and heard. Templated processes are a great way to ensure consistency and quality. Are you starting to see a trend here? *Coughs* processes and procedures.
4. Loyalty programs
Loyalty programs can be as simple as your coffee card that gets stamped after every purchase or something more complex using loyalty program software. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you know what would keep your customers coming back and what benefits they are interested in. Qantas Points offer great rewards and incentives for members. Once you've set it up, make sure your customers know about it.
Membership and subscriptions are a great way to retain customers. If you sell a consumable product or a service that is required on an ongoing basis, why not provide options for a subscription. Some products that I've seen lately that can be purchased on a subscription include coffee, pet food and even toothbrushes. They just simply allow you to select what type or product, how much and how often you would like it. Providing your business with a predictable income and a loyal community of customers.
When we work with a business we all expect to know what's going on. Whether we have placed an online order, waiting for the NBN to be connected or signing up for an online course. Open communication and transparency is key to retaining customers. Your customers want to know that you are working hard for them. The best way to do this is to develop a communication plan for your clients and customers. Determine at what intervals you will update the client on the progression of their order or service delivery. Updating them with emails or texts when their products are shipped or when they can expect the connection of a service. Weekly or monthly reports are nice for businesses that provide ongoing services. It puts the client's mind at ease, knowing exactly where their money is going.
7. Personal touch
How can you add a personal touch to your service delivery? A handwritten note placed in an order, a thank you email or a small gift. These little touches are a great way to personalise a transaction.
8. Content Marketing
Content marketing is a great way to stay top of mind among your current customers. Creating great content that your customers are interested in and content that helps them will keep you in their mind when it comes to buying again. Don’t be too salesy with this. Just offer great value. For example, if you are a clothing store, you could write a blog about how to choose the best outfit for your body type etc.
9. Prove your value
Here you want to remind your customers why they should keep buying from you or continue their membership. You can do it in two ways. Firstly, you can add so much value to your customers that it's a no brainer. Does your service or product fill all their needs and make their life easier? Make sure they know this by reminding them of your product's benefits on a regular basis through email marketing.
Secondly, you can breakdown the cost of your product/service to help compare and contrast the cost they see coming out of their bank account each month. For example, membership based businesses often break their monthly membership fee down to a weekly figure and compare it to something like the cost of one cup of coffee a week. Helping the customer to compare the value of what they receive from their membership versus something they might buy on a regular basis.
Change is as good as a holiday, right? Well, the same can apply to your business. Help keep your customers engaged by offering them discounts every now and then or change up your offers. You can also add new products or services that your customers are interested in. Just make sure to do your research before diving into offering something new.
Continuous improvement should be something that all businesses aspire to. Make sure you continue to look for new and better ways to serve your customers. This might include making it easier for them to purchase or updating a product feature or packaging. As always, when you change something, be sure to communicate that change with your customers.
11. Returning customer discounts or benefits
Offering a discount to someone who has purchased from you before is a great way to build an ongoing relationship. It's best to offer this discount after the first purchase in order to prime the customer for the next purchase. Alternatively, many health funds offer compounding benefits to members who continue with them each year.
12. Upselling strategies
Upselling strategies should not be reserved just for the initial sale, they can be a way to provide extra value for your customers. Before you can upsell existing clients you need to know how they are using your product or service and how they can get added value from the upsell. Only try to upsell them if they genuinely will benefit. If you're not genuinely trying to help your customer they will see the upsell as a money grab.
13. Personalise your customers experience
A great way to do this is to provide personalised reports or suggestions for your customer based on their activity on your site or use of your services. I like the way Grammarly provides users with a personalised report based on their writing. Also the addition of the social share button is ingenious. Additionally, include a quiz that asks the customer a few questions about their product preferences and what they are looking for in a particular product. Clothing companies are doing this with a quick onsite quiz that helps customers find an item of clothing that suits them.
Periodically offering add-ons to your customers is a great way to retain them. Remember they will be targeted by your competitors, so if your competitors are offering added value it could encourage your customer to make the switch. For example, Optus recently offered some of its customers a free trial of Optus Sport. It is a great way to display additional services that customers might not have been aware of and has the potential to earn them more revenue if some customers take up the offer after the trial.
15. Use a CRM
Using a CRM is the best way to track all the interactions a customer has with your business. Making it easier to provide great service and keep your customers happy. As your business begins to grow it can be difficult to keep track and ensure your customers are cared for. If you aren't currently using a CRM, we strongly encourage you to look into it. We could talk for days on the benefits of a CRM so stay tuned for more content on this topic.
16. Share content on how to use your products
Have you ever bought something and later realise you've been using it wrong your whole life? You're not alone, so if you're doing that, do you think your customers could be doing it with your product? Why not help them to avoid the embarrassment and provide funny content on socials and in your email marketing about using your products.
17. Share customer success stories
Testimonials shouldn't just be saved for lead generation. Sharing customer success stories is a great way to keep your customers engaged with your business. A tactic often used by gyms to help keep members motivated and remind them that they can achieve their goals. This is a good strategy for businesses who have seen a dip in sales.
18. Collect feedback from customers
The best way to know what your customers want is to ask them. Try to collect feedback through surveys, suggestion boxes or just having a chat with them. This helps you to work out what you are doing well and what you need to work on. Making the changes needed will help to retain customers that might have gone somewhere else.
19. Share your values and how they align with your customers values
Consumer trends are indicating that people are more likely to choose brands that have similar values to their own. The fact that your customers are already buying from you likely indicates that your values align with theirs. However, a little reminder every now and then wouldn’t hurt. Remind them why you got into business in the first place. What problems is your business solving and why should your customers care?
20. Share updates on new product features with your customers.
Drum up enthusiasm and excitement for your new products and services by keeping customers updated on the development and launch of new products. Give them behind the scenes looks on social media and email them to countdown the days until launch. Most tech companies release new products around the same time each year. This consistency ensures loyal customers know when to expect new products.
21. Fast delivery, easy return
Online shopping is growing and here to stay. Yet, there are still people hesitant to take advantage of online shopping. Help them out by providing fast delivery or click and collect services. Make it easy for them to return or exchange items. Show them how convenient and enjoyable online shopping can be.
22. Delight customers at no cost
Think about things that you can do to delight your customers that won't cost you anything. Send them a little message when they reach a milestone or include a joke or quote on your packaging. Chemist warehouses always tell customers how much they save on their receipt.
23. Reward your loyal advocates
Send them a discount every now and then or a small gift with their order. This will make them feel special and will show that you care about them.
24. Build an online community
Having an online community where your loyal customers can go and talk about the ways they use your products and just interact with other customers is a great way to increase customer retention. Although it can attract negative comments, so be sure to monitor and respond as appropriate. Some fans will even create their own groups such as Kmart mums and Aldi mums groups on Facebook.
There you have it, 24 ways you can increase your retention rate. Some you may already be implementing and others you might want to give a try. In this competitive market, it is ever more important to retain the customers you have worked hard to attract. As a starting point, pick a few and try to effectively implement them in your business. What strategies would you like to implement first?
To find out other ways to grow your business, check out our Business Success Map. A free resource (no email address required) that is designed to help business owners work on the right things at the right time.