For your business to grow and thrive you need to retain existing customers while continuing to acquire new ones. While acquisition is what many businesses focus on, retention is critical to ensure you aren’t losing customers faster than you’re adding new ones to your customer base.

It costs up to seven times more to attract and win new business than it takes to retain current customers. Plus, it’s important to remember that loyal customers are valuable because they are easier to sell to, you’ve already invested in a relationship with them and they are your best source of referrals. These are just a few reasons you need to remember to balance your focus between customer acquisition and customer retention. Not sure where to begin? Here are five examples of simple customer retention strategies to help you get started:

1. Customer surveys

Customer surveys give you a way to find out what you’re doing well and what you should improve. These simple tools can be used to gather input from customers following customer service calls, deliveries and installation as well as other customer elements of the customers’ experiences with your company.  It’s a simple way to gain insights around the performance of individual service agents, delivery drivers, accounting personnel or anyone who comes in touch with customers as well as product quality. Customer surveys allow you to see these things through the eyes of the customer and consistently improve on them accordingly. Not only does this information help you, it shows your customers that you care and that you’re interesting in making your services even better.

2. Customer service

Improve customer service by doing things like reducing response times, increasing first call resolutions to issues, making it easier for customers to reach you and reducing delivery issues.  A study by Walker revealed that customers will value experiences more than prices and products by 2020. The same study showed that 86% of buyers are
willing to pay more for a great customer experience. There are a number of things you can do to accomplish these. You may add additional options of how customers may contact your company for service such as live chat, chatbots and social media options. Adding these will allow you to serve more customers without increasing your service staff. Plus your customers will be happier since they’ll be able to reach you by their preferred method which is usually whatever is most convenient. In fact, it’s been found that buyers don’t want to expend a lot of additional effort to contact you.

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3. Personalisation

Personalisation is expected by today’s savvy customer. Although it may not be realistic to create each message individually, it is possible to group people based on their preferences, history, location, and more. This enables you to send group-specific messages and emails based on insights you have gathered about your customers during their interactions with your business. This information also improves your customers interactions with service personnel throughout your company by providing context and preventing them from having to repeat historical information over and over again. Taking the steps to collect this data so you can personalise your interactions with your customers makes them feel emotionally connected to your company and creates the desire to continue doing business with you.

4. Subscriptions or loyalty programs

Offer a Subscription or a loyalty program through your business. If your business type is a good fit for a subscription, offer products or services customers can subscribe to, like Amazon Prime. It’s not necessary to charge a fee to use a subscription model to develop customer loyalty. Your subscription can be based on benefits such as exclusive content, advance notice of new product offerings, presale discounts and special events instead of a recurring fee for your service or product. The main thing to keep in mind when developing your subscription content, such as a newsletter and other potential perks, is to be sure that you’re providing your customers with something they really want. This goes back to understanding your customer’s needs, desires, challenges and goals.

A loyalty program is another way to increase engagement with your customer base. Incorporate gamification techniques when designing your program. The idea is to make it like a game that your audience will enjoy. Allow them to accumulate points based on specific activities where they interact with your brand. Offer a reward of some sort once they hit targets or tiers. If they are working toward something they want, this will provide added incentive for them to continue to participate. Both subscriptions and loyalty programs help businesses develop a stronger relationship with their customers.

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5. Rewards or discounts

Offer a surprise reward or discount to customers and first time buyers to encourage them to buy again. A bonus gift could be something small that is a good compliment to the item or service they purchased or a free sample that the customer would value. Anything unexpected that has a reasonable perceived value will delight your customer and make them feel special. A free or discounted add on is always appreciated too. Everybody likes to make their money go further! Of course, giving first time buyers an incentive to buy again, especially in a designated time period, gets them in the habit of coming back to your brand on a routine basis. And, of course, this is the goal of such programs!

Final thoughts

It’s easy to focus on sales and marketing when running your business, but if you lose sight of the satisfaction of your existing customers you could end up losing customers faster than you’re adding them to your customer base. And if that is the case, you won’t be in business very long. Building a loyal customer following through the use of customer retention strategies will allow you to continually grow a strong and stable business that’s able to survive ups and downs over time. They are what will carry you through difficult economic conditions and allow you to stand up against the toughest of competitors. Customer retention, balanced with excellent sales and marketing will allow your brand to be around for many years to come.