Your existing customers are your company’s lifeline. Consumer researchers such as the Gartner Group have found that roughly 80% of the average company’s future profits will come from 20% of existing clients – so you really need to increase customer retention. In addition to being a fruitful strategy, it’s actually affordable to increase customer retention.
So, here’s a couple of ways to do that…
To increase customer retention – be accessible
Accessibility plays a critical role in the customer retention process. Regardless of the industry you are in, you need to ensure that your customers have a means of reaching your company if they have questions or need to make a purchase. Telephone accessibility is particularly important. Results of a 2016 survey of 1,200 adults by MarketingCharts.com show that 20% of consumers will abandon a relationship with a company if they have to wait too long to speak with a customer service representative by phone. Below are four strategies to help increase customer retention through accessibility:
- Provide customers with a means of reaching your company 24/7
- Ensure that the Contact Us page of your website contains your business address and means of reaching you
- Enable your customers to request a quote or ask a question through your website
- Provide a variety of ways for your customers to reach you (phone, email and live chat, for instance)
This step requires you to really know your existing customer base and understand what elements of the customer journey are most important to enhance. Below are some examples of ways that companies use convenience to entice their most loyal customers to keep coming back:
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- Platforms that allow customers to reorder favorite items from their mobile devices with the click of a button
- Mortgage company apps that enable customers to sign loan documents through a mobile device
- Customers receive automatic shipping notifications and order updates
- Mobile technology that allows customers to order their groceries online while in transit
Do not wait for your existing customers to reach out to you. Your failure to remain in contact with your existing clients may be interpreted as apathy on your part. Below are some ways to proactively engage your existing customers and preserve their loyalty.
- Invite your top customers to visit your offices
- Reach out to your best customers about time-sensitive special pricing
- Ask your top repeat customers to provide a testimonial or serve as a reference
- Contact your customers to tell them about exciting new products and services
- Text special offers to clients. Forbes indicates that 96% of people open and read texts within two minutes.
Feedback from your customers is your key to earning their loyalty. The best way to find out about your customers’ needs and preferences is to ask them. There are many ways to solicit customer feedback, including direct questioning, telephonic surveys, and written questionnaires. Below are some good questions to ask your customers to help foster and increase customer retention.
- What first attracted you to our business?
- How can we improve our products and service?
- What do you like best about our business?
- How can we maintain your loyalty as a customer?
- How do you prefer to be contacted about our promotions and sales?
Use special offers
Designing and promoting special offers is the cornerstone of proactive customer retention. Your existing customers should have access to special promotions before you execute a wide-scale launch. This shows them that you value their loyalty and helps to build customer satisfaction. Special offers and discounts can be promoted through phone calls, e-blasts, and mailers. Here are some examples of special offers that will keep your current clients happy:
- 15% discounts on overstock items at the end of each quarter will delight clients and help move product
- Customers receive an e-card and a coupon for 20% off on their birthdays
- Offer a free smaller product or service with the purchase of a larger item
- Fun customer contests that reward winning customers with their choice of free products or services
- Customer of the month promotions that feature key customers and give them 50% off inventory for the month
Build a responsive website
Your company’s website should be compatible with a wide variety of different browsers, including Chrome, Internet Explorer, and Safari. Additionally, your website should be viewable on smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices. Most important, your web pages should load quickly. You run the risk of losing loyal customers if your pages take longer than two or three seconds to load.
Inevitably, one of your existing customers will request a product or service that you cannot supply. In these cases, you should offer a comparable alternative that you can supply. Or, if you are unable to offer a similar alternative, you can solidify your position as a trusted industry expert by recommending a supplier who may be able to help your customer find what he or she needs. Here are some examples of situations that may call for this strategy:
- Your customer needs an item that you have discontinued and you have no alternatives
- The product your customer needs is on lengthy backorder
- Your customer urgently needs a service and you are extremely short-staffed
Stay ahead of competitors
Your risk of losing loyal customers to a competitor grows every day that you simply lie waiting for your customers to contact you. New competitors are emerging every day and they are aggressively targeting prospects in an effort to build their customer base. Be wary of the following strategies that your competitors use to lure your customers away, and make sure you can combat them:
- Lower prices than those that you offer on your site
- A social media presence that is stronger than yours
- Promotion of freebies, such as complimentary shipping
- First-time customer discounts
Reward top customers
Existing customers who buy regularly deserve to be rewarded for their loyalty. Repeat buyers combine to produce over 40% of online revenue for U.S. companies. Accordingly, your existing customers should be the beneficiaries of perks such as discounts and special rewards. Below are a few examples of ways to reward your existing customers:
- Establish a member rewards program to honor top customers
- Send customers a t-shirt bearing your logo when they reach a specified buying level
- Set up tiered discount levels that are linked to total annual purchases
- Send customers who buy in bulk a special gift basket or other tokens of appreciation
Seek expertise to increase customer retention
The most effective way to increase customer retention is to enlist the guidance of an industry expert. As you evaluate potential process improvement specialists, you should seek a provider that offers the following:
- A comprehensive solution that can be implemented using any device
- Willingness to provide a complimentary demonstration of recommended solutions
- The scalability to increase customer retention in businesses of all sizes
- Multiple customer references within your industry
- Reliable online support
- Attention to industry compliance standards