Many businesses do an excellent job of making initial sales and then become complacent with their current customers as they look for more business. But the truth is the work has only just begun when someone makes that first investment in your company – you need to retain customers.
The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer.Peter F. Drucker
The easiest way to grow your customer base is to not lose the ones you already have. Companies that build relationships with their current customers will see new referrals and repeat business. Returning customers also tend to spend more money than first-time customers.
There is no substitute for providing a great product or service, but knowing the tools to build trust and foster relationships with your clients will go a long way toward future success. Here are 7 tips for building loyalty and retaining your customers:
Set customer expectations
Failing to set expectations early on will only damage your relationship with your customer in the long run. When customers know what they can expect from you, it builds trust and puts their minds at ease.
Disappointment will always have a more lasting impact than any amount of satisfaction felt. So if you exceeded a customer’s expectations 19 times but failed to deliver just one time, that one experience is what will stick out in your customer’s mind. And they may not say anything to you about it, but chances are they will share that experience with someone else.
Because of this, it is always important to set lower expectations for yourself than what you feel you can provide. This will reduce any uncertainty as to the type of experience you need to provide for your customer to feel satisfied.
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Set up constant contact to retain customers
One of the best ways to build relationships with your customers is by consistent communication. This can be done by setting up a programmed series of phone calls, emails, special offers, a thoughtful card, and more.
Constant contact is important because it makes customers feel valued and appreciated. By acknowledging them and keeping them informed, it gives them a reason to want to continue doing business with you.
Implement feedback surveys
Welcoming feedback to retain customers is important because it gives insight into how your service is performing in contrast to customer expectations. Simply put, treat every complaint as a gift because it will provide valuable information for areas your business may be missing the mark.
Here are ways businesses can monitor feedback to effectively measure customer satisfaction:
- Monitor customer feedback individually. Rather than comparing feedback across a wide range of customers, narrow it down to a specific person and see what they thought.
- Monitor feedback over a period of time. Track your feedback surveys so you can see areas where you are doing well and areas where improvement is needed.
- Gain feedback that provides insight into what customers are dissatisfied.
This kind of data-driven feedback will allow you to make decisions and take action before it is too late.
Deliver proactive service to retain customers
Delivering proactive service means that instead of just waiting for problems to happen, businesses can anticipate and develop solutions to prevent expected problems from occurring. This involves becoming aware of the customer’s need to be informed.
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An example of this is an airline that texts their customer to let them know when their flight has been delayed. This allows the customer to plan accordingly and ensures they won’t show up at the airport angry and upset. By proactively approaching what could be a serious customer satisfaction problem, the airline stops the problem before it happens.
By being proactive, businesses will save themselves time from retroactively trying to fix problems in the long run and they will build a perception of providing proactive service to retain customers.
Build an online presence
The rise of social media has made it easier to build relationships with clients online. You can begin by creating an account on a few major social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. Most of your customers are likely to be active on one of the websites. Then begin including links to your various profiles in every future communication with customers.
Begin building relationships with customers by providing generic, valuable content and engaging with people who comment and leave feedback.
Retain customers by going the extra mile
Going the extra mile is a great way to build relationships and show your customers you have value to offer them. This will build loyalty and will help them choose to stick with you, even when they are approached by competitors.
Here are a few ways companies can go the extra mile to retain customers:
- Always allow employees to be proactive and make decisions to help customers. It is always frustrating to have a negative experience with a company. What is even more frustrating is dealing with employees that don’t have the authority to help. Allow employees to make decisions to best serve the customer.
- Use sites like Twitter to connect with customers instantly and provide support. Of course, make sure the person tweeting back has good customer service and social media skills.
- Most customer service failures are the result of improper training. All industries are different and each one calls for the training that is best suited toward what the company offers. Investing in proper training and regularly discussing ways to improve customer interaction is necessary to ensure customers are receiving the best possible service.
Own up to your mistakes
If you make a mistake that a customer is unhappy about, own up it to it. Apologizing will validate their feelings and show that you understand the inconvenience it caused them. Explain why the breakdown occurred and be forthcoming about how you plan to fix the problem. For many unhappy customers, empathy only goes so far, so be transparent and involve the customer in the solution process.
Making a mistake and disappointing a customer inevitable. It is important to remember not to blow your mistake out of proportion and make it seem bigger than it actually it. Taking responsibility and offering a sincere apology will go a long way toward repairing your relationship with your customer.
It is much more costly and time-consuming to have to replace current customers who either leave or becomes inactive. This is why retaining customers is critical to the growth of a company.
Even if some of your customers have become inactive, up to 60 percent of them will be receptive to attempts to renew their business if they are approached the right way. This is a much easier solution than dedicating time and energy to trying to bring in all new customers.
Renewing the energy of customers who are already familiar with your company is one of the easiest ways to increase revenue and retain customers.