Finding loyal customers in these hard economic times is one of the most challenging aspects of running a business. Retaining customers you already have is vital before you continually search for more.
Think about how much your customer spends with you on an ongoing basis across the years. Have you ever considered what their ‘Life Time Value’ is and how much it costs you to acquire a new customer?
Before I share some customer retention techniques, here’s a few of the reasons why your customers may decide to leave you.
• Poor customer service or product delivery
• Customers are unhappy with the product or service
• Customers are unhappy with the price
• Others just opt to use a competitor… (e.g. they move away – but ask them why)
How then can you ensure you retain your current customers?
Improve your products or services
Many business owners are surprised to discover that their customers don’t think of their products or services as favourably as they thought. Make sure you provide your customers with products and services that have a perception of high quality and added value. Develop better services and products based around customer feedback and research. Don’t rest on your laurels, make sure you use continuous improvement on your products, processes and service.
Improve your customer service
Put yourself in your customers shoes. Do a shadow shop of your competitors and of your own business. Is your customer service really outstanding, do you honestly WOW customers? What small things can you do right now to improve your service? You need consistent and exceptional customer service in this day and age. ‘Good’ customer service doesn’t cut it anymore. Consider how you speak with customers on the phone, how you interact with them when they walk into your business. Do you treat people as you would want to be treated? You need to turn your customers into ‘raving fans’.
Build relationships – Acknowledge customers by their names
With customer relationship management (CRM) software, it’s now easier than before for small businesses to track everything about customers and build relationships. You need to build a trusted relationship over time. How can you make your customers feel more appreciated? Just one simple way to connect personally with your customers is to call them by their names. Be it in person, in an email or over the telephone, addressing a customer by their name is the ideal way to personalize the interaction. If you can remember the name without the software all the better… think of your local coffee shop, hopefully they remember regular customer names…it makes you feel important and valued.
Simplicity is key
The business world is becoming more technical every day, but keeping things simple is vital. Some businesses send handwritten letters or birthday cards to their customers thanking them for their business. Ensuring you create a positive experience when you’re interacting face to face with your customer, it’s important in enhancing your customer retention; it’s as simple as looking your clients straight in the eye and letting them know how much you appreciate them.
Always remain in contact with your customers even after closing a deal
Use phone calls, mail, text, email marketing and social media tools as an important part of your customer retention plan so that you can always remain on good terms with your customers even after they’ve left your office or store. Keeping in touch with customers also ensures that you get feedback on the products or services they purchased from you (Plus you can always ask for a testimonial!). You can also send offers and relevant information for them to share with their friends. Additionally, connecting with your customers on social media also ensures you answer any questions they may have directly.
Go beyond the call of duty
Giving more than is expected by your customers is one of the easiest ways of retaining them and establishing strong relationships. For small businesses there are so many opportunities to entice clients and go above and beyond the bare minimum. By simply doing this, you can establish long term customer loyalty. Customers value being looked after.
Here are some ways you can exceed your customers’ expectations
• Find out exactly what your customers problems, wants and needs are, make their issues your number one priority.
• Single out possible problems and deal with them before they become real issues.
Ensure your customers are satisfied
Do you really have 100% customer satisfaction? Customer satisfaction is vital in achieving exceptional sales and remaining profitable. Customer satisfaction software can help you measure satisfaction and give you an insight into ways to improve customer loyalty.
Some of the tools I’ve used for monitoring customer feedback includes
• Survey Monkey
• Constant Contact Survey
• Zen Desk
Customers who are satisfied will likely recommend your business to their friends.
Dealing with customer dissatisfaction
Deal with customer complaints as soon as they come in. Responding to your customer complaints as soon as they come in is an important part of taking care of your customers. Also make sure you’re responding to customer feedback online and within social media. As much as we take care when dealing with customers, things can go wrong, but how you deal with such situations is what really matters. Think of coming up with the right systems to increase your customer satisfaction.
Need marketing for your small business?
Contact Harlan Marriott at Leenane Templeton on 02 4926 2300.
Harlan has worked for some of the worlds largest (and smallest businesses) in executive and marketing management roles helping to build businesses. https://www.linkedin.com/in/harlanmarriott