5 Strategies to Keep Your Best Clients Coming Back
The Pareto Principle (aka the 80-20 rule) states that 20% of your customers account for 80% of your business. If this old adage is true – you should be doing all you can to keep those 20% coming back again and again.
One tried and true methodology is the American Customer Satisfaction Index developed by the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. It links quality, expectations and perceived value to overall customer satisfaction and loyalty. See chart below:
But finding out what really works can be a hit or miss process – especially for small to medium sized businesses that don’t have the brand recognition or fanatical customer loyalty that larger corporations can draw upon. That’s why, no matter what the competition is doing, you should be following these five proven customer retention strategies to keep your best customers on board.
1. Connect with Your Clients Where They Are – People appreciate knowing that they’re being heard – but just priding yourself on great customer service isn’t enough. Go to where people are talking about your company like Twitter and Facebook (surprise! social media networks aren’t just for teenagers anymore. Even “old fashioned” methods like sending a hand-written thank you card or a personal phone call can do wonders for your bottom line.
2. Don’t Just Concentrate on Your Business – It’s very common to survey your best customers and ask, “How are we doing? Is there something we could do better?” If you’re a B2B company, or even a B2C retailer with other companies comprising part of your customer base (e.g. your Corporate Gifting program), emphasizing your customer’s business (or the area of their life that your company serves) will yield much more valuable information in the long term. For example, consider asking how business is going, what new ventures they’re getting involved in or new products they’re preparing to launch. This not only shows that you have a keen interest in the customer’s business, but also unearths some (unspoken) issues that could be applied to the way you market yourself and your business image.
3. Keep Them Updated and Informed – Take some time to simply keep your customers informed – and by informed, that doesn’t mean a sales pitch touting a new product. Just a simple note to let them know that you’re available to answer any questions they may have or any issues that come up goes long way toward cementing a place in their mind for great support that they’ll remember.
4. Inspire Future Orders – Some companies do this by way of coupons, but these can too easily be tossed aside and forgotten about. Keep customers coming back by getting them directly involved in your interactive marketing ads. Well-known brands such as Coca-Cola, Doritos and Skittles have done this successfully with video, viral marketing, contests, tell-a-friend promotions and much more. The more everyday people get the word out about a brand (and do so creatively), the more memorable and interesting it becomes.
5. Douse Complaints as Soon as You’re Aware of Them – Most customers won’t complain, they’ll just go elsewhere. Those that do make some noise about an issue or problem with the company need to be addressed as soon as possible. With the interconnectivity of today’s communications – bad service spreads like wildfire. Customer-centered companies cannot afford to simply sweep upset customers under the rug and hope the incident will be forgotten. Take steps to remedy the issue as best you can and as quickly as you can. Sometimes, the customers who complain the loudest can suddenly become fervent supporters and buyers.
Many other tried-and-true methods, such as sending gifts or preferred customer discounts have always worked to help spur sales and repeat business. But perhaps the most important point that truly drives customer retention home is to simply focus on building a relationship instead of getting a sale. By fostering an interest in your customers and getting to know their likes, dislikes, fears and goals, they will in turn eagerly support your business and your brand.