Think of your business like a jean pocket and your customers like coins. You can keep putting coins in your pocket, but if your pocket has holes in the bottom, they’re going to keep falling out. It doesn’t matter how many new coins you put in your pocket; it’s only a matter of time before they fall out too. Your efforts are continually exhausted and the only way to fix this problem is to sew up that hole. Gaining new customers doesn’t matter if you can’t keep them. Just as it’s cheaper to sew up the hole than to seek out more coins, customer retention is more cost-efficient than customer acquisition.
We’ve reached out to various businesses for their advice on customer retention. Here’s our curated list of strategies so you can tie up those loose ends and keep those customers you rightfully gained.
1. Create loyalty programs.
“Current users need to feel special, exclusive and have to be taken care of. Therefore, tiered loyalty programs or loyalty rewards are good strategies to keep them engaged. Also, getting their feedback on the current services or product and getting them early access to the new ones gives them a feeling of exclusiveness. All these combined strategies are effective to keep your users satisfied.” – Mariona Prat Vila, Samsung Pay Project Manager, Samsung Electronics
2. Have them identify as part of you.
“Making your customers feel like they are part of your company is an excellent way of getting them to identify with your brand and want to stay with you. For example, giffgaff doesn’t have customers, we have ‘members.’ We have created a whole online community for our members to communicate with each other. They can share ideas on how to grow and shape our business and also have fun with fellow members. We even have the ‘giffgaff Awards,’ which gives payback to our users straight to their accounts, although they also have the option to donate this to charity.” – Steve Pritchard, Search Content Manager at giffgaff
3. Opt for regular, personal communication.
“This might not be hugely novel, but whenever possible we substitute an email with a phone call, video conference, or ideally, personal visit. As a company in the tech world, this can feel time-consuming and counterproductive, but it transforms your company from a service provider (think cable provider or utility company) into ‘Matt, my online marketing guy.’ The personal bond definitely helps improve retention.” – Matt Bowman, CEO, Thrive Internet Marketing
4. Show you care by giving back to your community.
“Another great strategy is giving back to causes they care about. Donate a percentage of your sales to a local charity that resonates with your primary customer base. Set up a mission statement for the charity drive so that customers can learn about your inspiration, goals, and their impact in achieving said goals.” – Justin Guinn, Retail Market Researcher, Software Advice
5. Focus resources on a strong customer support team.
“Get your customer support team to prioritize repeat customers over first-time users. Do not leave their inquiries or complaints sitting in an inbox all day. Set up filters in Zendesk to make sure they go straight to the top of the queue.” – Teresa Walsh, Marketing Executive, Cazana
“We keep our customers coming back by ensuring that they are speaking with an actual customer service representative every time they call in — no automated services to redirect you to a list of ‘press 1 for this, press 2 for that’ options. We hire devoted team members so that the customer can talk to the same person on a regular basis and develop a rapport. We also employ a ‘yes’ approach in business by finding as many ways as possible to cater to the needs of a customer and assisting with a can-do attitude instead of saying ‘no.’” — Deborah Sweeney, CEO, MyCorporation
“To retain customers, retailers have to go beyond price and selection. What they need to do is leverage their most under-utilized assets — their employees. Passionate, engaged employees can deliver personal customer experiences that create customer loyalty. Truly engaged workers — passionate brand advocates to all they meet — are inspired by where the company is headed and are compelled to share that passion with customers by delivering great customer service and interaction. This connects the company’s brand story from the inside out — from employees to consumers. When the brand experience is authentic and compelling at every touchpoint, you’ll create brand ambassadors within your own ranks that go beyond the normal 9-5 employee.” – Amy Sheridan, CEO, Blue Phoenix Media
6. Feature your clients on your website.
“Many companies include client testimonials on their site, and while that’s an excellent marketing tactic for the company, it doesn’t benefit the client. To enhance your website’s content while also giving a nod to the great work your clients do, feature your clients’ work on your site with professional photography and a short description of the project. Not only is it essentially an advertisement for your client, but it will also serve as an incentive for them to continue to do more work with you!” – Evan Harris, Co-Founder & CEO, SD Equity Partners
7. Make it personal.
“Customers are more likely to respond to relevant pieces of content. Data-driven marketers are able to use information such as browser, country (determined based on your IP), device type and cookie data to personalize their websites and mobile web experiences for unknown customers. For known customers, marketers can use past behavioral and purchase information to personalize their experience.” – Justin Yek, CEO & Cofounder, Metisa
8. Give them more of what they want.
“Start by identifying the event that impacts retention the most. For us at Thinkific, it’s when a customer gets an enrollment into their online course. As long as they have sales, they’ll continue to get value out of our platform. Knowing this event, we can now create campaigns to help customers make more sales. These include live workshops, online courses, in-depth blog articles and one-off videos. It’s actionable customer success content, and the easier we can make it for customers to implement our advice the more likely they’ll generate sales.” – Sid Bharath, VP of Growth, Thinkific
Bottom Line: Make customer retention a high priority.
If you take one thing from this article, let it be that your current customers are the backbone of your company and deserve just as much attention (if not, more) than new prospects. Clearly your existing customers chose you for a reason, and it’s worth striving for excellence to make sure they realize they made the right decision.
According to a study from Market Metrics, the probability of selling to a current customer is between 60-70%, while the probability of selling to a new prospect is only 5-20%. Customers are people, too. Show them you appreciate them, and they’ll stay.
There’s no magic formula to getting every customer you acquire to fall in love with your brand and never leave you for another, but there are efforts you can take to make a significant difference in their decision process.
So pick up the needle, and start sewing the holes!