Updated: 20th March 2019
Client retention is the act of ensuring customers return time and time again to purchase your products or engage your services. With an increasingly open marketplace, competition is fierce and it has never been easier for customers to defect to another brand.
However, retaining existing customers should be just as much of a priority as attracting new ones for any business owner. In fact it is much cheaper to retain an existing customer than it is to recruit a new one. With an existing customer, you have already accomplished the hard part of not only attracting them but successfully getting them to follow through with a purchase. The next step is to ensure they return to you when they are next in need of the goods or services you provide.
At the heart of customer retention is creating a sense of trust between your company and its customers. Once you gain the trust you begin the process of building loyalty which will hopefully lead to repeat sales. Here are some top tips to help you keep hold of your customers and maximise their lifetime value to your company:
1. Find out why your business is losing customers: The first step to maintaining customers is to find out why they are leaving in the first place. Are your prices too high? Is your selection of products not wide enough? Perhaps your delivery or installation times aren’t fast or flexible enough, or perhaps your ordering platform (whether online or otherwise) isn’t up to scratch. Ask for feedback from customers and use this in a constructive manner. Although criticism of your business can be difficult to swallow, it is a hugely useful tool in helping you improve your service offerings which is essential to keep your customers coming back.
2. Identify your best customers and reward their loyalty: This could either be through a loyalty card scheme where customers build up points with every purchase, a one-off discount code, or a free product every now and then. These measures don’t always have to involve discounts or financial incentives – don’t underestimate how far a genuine ‘thank you’ goes in fostering these relations and maintaining goodwill.
3. Keep your customers happy: if you are providing quality products or a reliable service, your customers are less likely to be tempted to defect. So when customers’ expectations have not been met for whatever reason, you must make it a priority to respond to complaints and resolve issues in a timely manner and to the best of your ability. Not every purchase is going to be seamless; it is how you deal with these less-than-perfect transactions which really counts.
4. Build relationships: If interactions with your customers are largely done in person, this gives you a great opportunity to build a genuine relationship with your regulars. Once you build up this rapport, customers will feel not only a sense of loyalty to your brand or company, but to you as an individual. Although arguably easier to achieve when you have regular face-to-face interactions with customers, this type of engagement and relationship-building can still be done remotely. Social media platforms are a great way of keeping your customers updated about your latest products and promotions, as well as inviting comments and suggestions on the service you provide. If you have a website, keeping this updated with regular informative content which you can push out via other digital channels such as email, is also a useful way of engaging with customers at a distance. Remember, just like any other relationship, time and effort needs to be put into maintaining customer relations, however, if this leads to an increase in repeat sales then it is a process well worth doing.
5. Offer insight as well as just products: An in-depth knowledgeable of your field and the products you are selling is a huge advantage when differentiating yourself from your competitors. Not only can customers purchase what they require, but they can also get help and advice on what it is they actually need and the product which will best fit their needs. This comprehensive advice-led service provides added value and a reassuring element of trust that many of your competitors will struggle to match.
6. What else can you offer: Once you get to know your customers you will be in a better position to ensure that you are adequately servicing their needs. Providing a comprehensive selection of products and services means your customers do not have to go elsewhere to source what they need. Consider introducing a range of complementary services which will not only improve customer satisfaction but also help contain your customers as much as possible thereby reducing the risk of them being lured away by a competitor.
If your business is losing customers and this is having a negative impact on your financial position, you should make it a priority to seek professional help and advice at the earliest opportunity. Real Business Rescue’s team of licensed insolvency practitioners can assess your situation and provide the expert guidance you need. Call our team today on 0800 644 6080 to speak to one of our advisers.
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