When it comes to your business model how often do you focus on attracting new clientele? When devising your marketing strategy are you focused on click conversions and lead generations in new areas? You wouldn’t be the only one. However, as you may have heard it can be considerably easier and more cost-effective to entice your current customers to make repeat purchases and return to your services as opposed to attracting new ones. Logically, customer retention makes perfect business sense, you have a tried and tested customer base that has already found its way to you. The hard work begins on getting them to return.
So what is customer retention? Simply put it is the act of increasing the number of already existing customers to become repeat customers, which will, in turn, increase the profitability of each customer and your business. Essentially you are able to glean more value from your existing customer base. After all, you have worked hard to get your customers through the door, virtual or not you want to keep them from walking away for good.
Of course, customer retention is only possible when you have a customer base to retain and you have to first put the effort in to get your customers there but if you fit the criteria here are some of the top strategies you can implement to boost your customer retention numbers.
Create a customer account
A customer account can have plentiful benefits. They can simplify and streamline the shopping and, importantly, the checkout experience for customers. Customer accounts store customer information such as payment details, delivery details, and previous orders. This can make repeat purchases easier as all the information is there and the transaction can be executed at the press of a button.
However there is a stumbling block to customer accounts and that can be the initial set-up, often being viewed as too big a commitment for customers. Essentially new customers may be put off by the time required to input the initial information and may opt to checkout as a guest instead. If you find this to be a hurdle for your business consider these ways to overcome them. Firstly, you can provide the customer with the opportunity to create an account after the first order has been placed. This can often be done with the click of a button and all the information that was inputted for the transaction can be carried through to the customer’s account. Secondly, you may wish to entice customers to set up an account by offering a discount or access to a loyalty program once the account has been activated.
Create a loyalty program
Loyalty programs have been customer retention techniques for years with a proven track record. The idea behind a loyalty program is to increase the purchase frequency of a customer by motivating and incentivizing them to do so by way of a valued rewards program. Loyalty programs are such an attractive option as they are a win-win for both customers and businesses. The business is gaining repeat customers and the customer is benefitting from discounted rates or other promotional activities. Loyalty programs are exactly as the name suggests, they promote customer loyalty as the rewards on offer allow customers to feel valued.
The difficulty with loyalty programs may come in keeping the rewards sufficiently desirable or different. A good way to combat this is to create a points-based reward system whereby customers receive a set number of points for certain activities. It could be for purchases, referrals, account creation by way of example and the more points they have the better the reward or benefit they reap.
Have stellar customer service and support
Without a doubt, one of the best ways to improve your customer retention rates is to focus on customer service and support your business offers. Of course, there will always be customers who are price-driven and will always opt for the lowest price regardless of reviews, service, or support. If you cannot compete with rock bottom prices on the market then you have to stand out by other means and the service and support you offer is the way to do it.
Although there are customers who are motivated by cost there is an equally large proportion who are motivated by trust in a business, reliability, and the customer experience they offer. A strong customer support system can you grow your business both pre and post-sale. Good customer service experience will persuade customers to return to you and a reputation for good customer service will also have the effect of attracting new customers, a win-win situation.
When it comes to enacting a good customer service or support base it is a good idea to have a dedicated team or support system that can effectively communicate with customers, after all, communication is key. What is more, the support system should act quickly as customers in today’s market expect instant gratification. Everything today is instantaneous, messages, emails, photo uploads can all be done in a breath and customers expect service to be the same. Quick, clear, and concise communication should be seen as the gold standard of customer service.
A great way to implement this into business practice is to utilize a live chat system or help desk tool. A live chat system can help answer customer questions as they come in or resolve customer complaints quickly and efficiently. Resolving customer complaints or dissatisfaction quickly and efficiently can turn an unhappy customer into a loyal and repeat customer. One who may even share their experiences with others. Live chat systems can be flexible and adaptable to business needs and operate on websites, emails, or even social media. If you are considering investing in a live chat system be sure to source the best live chat provider for your needs.
Another way to offer impeccable customer service is to add those little extras that you know customers will appreciate. Gift wrapping, for example, thank you notes or free samples. It does not have to be a huge gesture just an added personal touch that makes your customer feel valued or that shows your business goes that extra mile for their appreciated custom.
Maximize email communication
Email marketing has been a lifeline for so many businesses as it allows you to get directly in front of your customers by simply sending an email. There are of course downsides to email marketing and the most obvious complaint is their spam content. Too many promotional or marketing emails can see customers deleting emails before they open them and even unsubscribing from mailing lists. While a certain element of this is inevitable there are ways in which you can reduce your chance of facing the dreaded unsubscribe button and here are some of the best recommendations.
Use your email communication as a chance to build a relationship with your customers both before and after their purchases. You want to ensure any email you send adds value to your customer and does not bombard them with unwanted, spammy content. If it does you run the risk of losing them. You can add value to your customer base by sending a follow-up thank you email after their purchase and offering a discount code for a subsequent purchase. You can also provide free and useful information relevant to your business. For example, if you are a food-related company you could provide free recipes, or if you are a clothing business provide style guides and tips.
Further, when it comes to marketing emails be sure to make them as personal as possible. The days of mass marketing emails are long gone and customers will not value them. In fact, it is these emails that are likely to end up in the spam folder. To personalize your emails you could offer products or sales that will be of interest to your customers, or show them products that they may be interested in based on previous purchases or shopping experiences. There is incredibly sophisticated software available to glean all this information and compact it nicely into a generated but personalized email.
Get customer feedback
If you find yourself drawing a blank on how to improve your customer retention rates or you’ve tried and tested the traditional methods then the very best thing you can do is go straight to the source. Ask your customers directly what they think about your business and what you could do to improve the experience they had when shopping with you. There are multiple ways you can do this. You can ask them to complete surveys, not all customers will want to do this however as it may feel time-consuming and laborious but offering an incentive to do can often go a long way. Alternatively, you could ask them to leave a review or to partake in a test or focus group. Once you have all the information you need to be sure to analyze it thoroughly and of course act upon it. A really great marketing technique will be to act upon the advice given and let your customers know that you valued their opinion so much you decided to implement their recommendations.