Keeping 'Em Happy - 10 Tips for Improving Customer Retention

I recently came across the above info graphic when I was surfing the web, and it made me stop and think, "What d I do to ensure I keep the clients I have?"

Most of us are aware of the first statistic - that it's six to seven times more costly to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. But what do we do to ensure we keep the customers we have? If we were truly mindful of the last statistic - boosting customer retention rates by 5% can increase profits by 5% to 95% - I think we'd all do a lot more.

One thing that I hear a lot from my clients is, "I provide great customer service." And the next thing I ask them is, "How do you know?" What you consider great customer service may not be what your customer considers great customer service. Have you asked your customers lately? Also, if you have employees, what do you do to ensure your employees are providing the same level of customer service that you would?

So beyond ensuring that you provide outstanding customer service, what else can you do to help keep the customers you have? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Treat Your Customers Like You Want to Be Treated. This is the Golden Rule that we learned as kids, but it's even more important today. We are so busy running to pick up the kids, trying to check off one more thing on our to-do list, talking on the phone while driving down the street eating our lunch - people are surprised when someone extends a simple courtesy such as smiling and saying hello or holding a door for someone.

  2. Learn Their Needs. The number-one reason customers state for cancelling a service is "I no longer need it." You need to find out Why customers are saying they no longer have a use for your company. Within that answer is a marketing or product-improvement opportunity.

  3. Engage. Reach out to your customers on multiple levels - let them sign up for newsletters, participate in forums, comment on the company blog, send them special offers. The more relationships you have with your customers, the less likely they are to leave. Talk to your customers directly. Call them up, meet them one-on-one if you can. They'll be honest about what they like and don't about your products and services. Don't just talk to your customers when it's time to bill them. Stay in touch all year.

  4. Befriend Your Customers By Getting Personal. This one is huge. No one wants to be just another number of just another revenue source. Remember your clients and customers in a personal way on their birthday, during holidays, and on any date apropos to your relationship with them - perhaps as a Realtor remembering them and keeping in touch with them on the anniversary of their home closing would be a nice personal touch. But don't make it just another marketing piece. Take time to get personal and express your honest appreciation for them. You will get back what you give. Building personal relationships with your customers can result in fierce loyalty and a steady stream of ongoing business referrals.

  5. Pay Attention to Complaints and Compliments. Take every customer complaint very seriously, ensuring that your business will never have to deal with the same complaint twice. Use customer complaints to bring about new ideas and ways to improve your product or service. Use the same approach for customer compliments too, using compliments as a point of reinforcement for what your company is already doing right.

  6. Up Your Service wiith a Loyalty Program. Loyalty programs are extremely effective for oustanding customer retention. Offer discounts for customers in your database sent via email. Implement a punch card that gives them a reward after so many purchases. Give VIP customers a gift or service on their anniversary date.

  7. Educate Your Clients. Are you taking care of your customers? Are your clients fully aware of how they might implement your service or product more effectively? The more value they perceive your product or service to offer the more loyal they will be towards continuing to use it. If your product or service has a learning curve - shorten it.

  8. Reconnect with Your Lost Customers. In many ways, a lost customer is more valuable than a hot lead. They know you. They've already come through the door. Have you found out what might have gone wrong if anything? Why have you lost them as a customer? Is it something you might easily remedy? Timing is everything and perhaps now IS the time for them - but you'll never know if you don't try to reconnect.

  9. Send a Gift and Secure Their Second Visit. It is true that there is a huge drop-off between a customer's first and second visit. Getting them to come back just one more time is often the bridge towards a permanent relationship. Is there a special something you can send them, perhaps a welcome kit, a gift basket, or a coupon? Sending a "gift" just might provide the impetus to turn your one time visitor into a repeat customer.

  10. Implement Faithful Follow-up. If the average sale is made only after the seventh contact, why hav you only contacted a prospective customer three times? Often times an unclosed sale is merely a future sale in the incubator. It is coming...just not yet. Let your prospect turn their wandering eyes and fickle fancy elsewhere and you will have lost them. So be faithful. Don't give up too soon. As they say, the fortune is in the follow-up.

These are just a few ideas, but they will definitely get you moving in the right direction toward making your customers feel valued and happy. Do you have a favorite not mentioned here? If so, take a minute to comment on our ACLARUS Facebook page, and let us know what you do to ensure your customers keep coming back.

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