Attracting customers to your business can take a great deal of effort and expense. You have to find a way to reach out to them through the noise of other advertisers, then you have to convince them yours is the service worth signing up for.
The efforts you go to in order to win new customers are not always successful and can end up being wasted. This is why a significant part of your business strategy must involve holding on to the customers you already have.
When a client comes to you for the second, third and fourth time and beyond, you are saved the expense of customer acquisition. They are already aware of what you do and what you stand for so the process between contact and sale is significantly shortened.
A recent study by analytics company SumAll looked into the exact value of repeat business. Based on millions of transactions, the company found between 25 and 40 per cent of the revenue of stable businesses comes from existing customers. That’s a lot of COA (cost of acquisition) dollars saved!
The recommendation is that as a business owner you aim to have 25 percent of your revenue coming from repeat customers by your third year of operation. SumAll suggests putting 25 per cent of your marketing revenue towards encouraging people to stick with you. .
As you can see, the best clients are the ones you already have. Here are some of measures you need to put in place for improved customer retention:
Be worth coming back for
Whether you are a physiotherapist, a car dealer or a toy repair specialist, your first step is to create a good customer experience.
I’ve mentioned his before but it is worth reiterating that without a quality product or service you are never going to be able to achieve the business growth you are after.
As well as providing stellar service, give your customers a reason to come back. If you sell them a pair of pants, mention you will have belts on sale next week. If you install a swimming pool, offer regular cleaning or water quality checks as part of your business.
Take it a step further and consider how you can always be offering new products, services and benefits. Perhaps you can sell that swimming pool owner a cover or invite them to your office for a swimming pool maintenance workshop. Your customers already know you provide friendly service and value for money so they will be more likely to take you up on your offer, especially if you sweeten the deal with a discount.
[Etihad Airlines offers customers rewards from the moment they sign up for the loyalty program]
Make friends, not customers
Key to building your business, particularly if you have a small operation, is to get to know your customers on a more personal level. When you interact, ask your new ‘friends’ about themselves. Get to know their passion and their motivations.
An old trick used by many a hairdresser, dentist and even some GPs is to jot down a few notes after every appointment. Things like “[Customer] is thinking about looking for a new job” or “[Customer]’s son is starting school this year” will help jog your memory so you can pick up where you left off.
Getting to know your customers puts you at an advantage as they will be more likely to think of you when their friends are looking for a similar service. You don’t have to be best buddies and look after each other’s dogs when you’re on holiday but the personal connection is helpful, particularly when you’re growing your business. Plus, it means you get to spend all day working with your mates!
Continue the dialogue
Just as you keep in touch with your friends and family, you need to keep in touch with your customers to stay front of mind.
Fortunately, modern technology makes this very easy in the form of automated marketing software. Here are some of the mediums you can use to stay in touch with your customers:
Using one of the many email marketings tools on offer, you can create a set-and-forget series of emails which connects with your customer at regular points throughout their journey with you.
These emails can act as welcome messages, appointment reminders or invitations to make an appointment. You can also share information from your blog or send out surveys and feedback request forms.
Beyond the automated emails, sometimes a simple, personal “How are you?” can go a very long way. This doesn’t need to involve any form of sales pitch, discount, or indeed any mention of your business. It reinforces that you do care about your customer as a person and reminds them you are there to help. This is something you can do during quiet periods or at the end of the year when you have some time on your hands.
- Text messages
We can’t help it… we all check our phone several times a day.
A text message with a special offer can trigger your customer to get in touch. Just make sure you include an ‘OPT OUT’ function for those who would rather not be communicated with in this way.
A personally addressed brochure or letter can actually stand out in a time when the only things likely to come through your letterbox are bills, bills and more bills.
Make sure you have a good reason for getting in touch. It could be that you have a VIP offer, a birthday message or a gift voucher for your clients to share with their friends.
- Phone calls
Some real estate agents set themselves goals of calling upwards of 100 clients per week. This may seem like a lot of work but when you consider the thousands of dollars in commission which can be earned by selling one house it is worth the effort.
You may not have the time to ring every client in your database regularly. However, it may make sense to keep in touch with a select few of either your best customers or the ones who are at risk of slipping away.
Nowadays a phone call can seem like a big deal. It shows you are willing to go the extra mile for your customers.
- Social media connections
How you connect with customers on social media can depend on the type of business you run. If you have an organisation with a few dozen rather than a few hundred clients it may make sense to add them on your social media accounts. This is another way to strengthen relationships and find common ground with your contacts.
You can combine all these tactics by setting up a ‘calendar’ of sorts. You can communicate with your customers at regular intervals from a variety of mediums.
Your clients will come back to you if they know you’re available. For this reason, it is important to be easily contactable.
Setting up chatbots and automated email replies at least lets your customers know their request is making its way to a real person. If you don’t have time to respond to each enquiry yourself, you can consider outsourcing to an external customer care team. There are many companies which specialise in live chat over the phone or online. They can be briefed on what you do so they are able to respond to client FAQs.
[GIO responds quickly within Facebook Messenger]
Add areas on your website where clients can easily get in touch. Respond to comments on social media and online review platforms to let your customers know you’re interested in what they have to say.
Ask for feedback
Nobody likes to be told what they’re doing wrong but when it comes to your business negative feedback can actually be a good thing.
When a customer takes the time to tell you why they aren’t happy they are actually doing you a favour as the five, ten or fifty customers before them may have had the exact same experience and not bothered to speak up.
[This men’s clothing brand asks for feedback and offers an incentive for doing so]
When you gather feedback, you are not only letting your clients know you care, you are identifying opportunities to improve. You are also receiving free ideas on strategies and products which could grow your business.
Be a great boss
How does being a great boss lead to good customer retention?
You can have the best products and an amazing customer service policy in place but if your team hates you, it will show. Their efforts will be lacklustre and they won’t speak highly of you in public.
Treat your team as you would your customers and they will strive to represent you in a positive way.
According to marketingwizard.com, the average business loses around 20 percent of its customers annually simply by failing to attend to customer relationships. In some industries this leakage is as high as 80 percent.
By retaining the customers you have, you are saving yourself from constantly needing to acquire new leads. These customers are already halfway down the sales funnel, making it easier for you to seal the deal.
Related Tag: Marketing Automation Consultant