You work hard to get new customers in the door—but what do you do to keep them there?
Finding new customers is more difficult, expensive and time-consuming than keeping your existing ones happy. Plus, happy customers spend more. Boost your sales by trying these five tips to improve customer retention.
1. Market to your existing customers. When you see promotions from companies you do business with offering deals to new customers only, do you feel annoyed? You’re not alone. Marketing that focuses on new customers can make loyal customers feel snubbed. Create promotions and deals that benefit the customers who spend the most money with your business. For example, a B2B company can offer volume discounts; a retail company can offer “rewards,” such as $10 in-store spending money for every $50 spent within a certain period. The goal: Show your existing customers that the more they patronize your business, the greater the benefits.
2. Make post-sale follow-up part of your process. Whether you sell B2B or B2C, following up after the sale should be built into your operations.
- A. If you sell B2B, you can use customer relationship management (CRM) software to track customers’ purchases, then set reminders to follow up at a certain point after the sale with a personalized email or phone call. It also allows you to answer any questions they may have about the product or service they purchased from you, and find out how it’s working for them. Reaching out not only shows them you care about building a lasting relationship, but also offers an opportunity to uncover complementary products or services that might add value to their business.
- B. If you sell B2C, capture customers’ email addresses, then reach out soon after the sale to see if they have any questions or feedback about their purchase. Better yet, include a link they can use to write an online review of your business.
3. Listen to your customers. The more you listen, the more you’ll understand what your current customers want and need, the better you can tailor your products and services to meet those needs, and the more customers you’ll retain. Encourage your salespeople to ask customers questions and share what they learn with the rest of the team. Conduct regular customer surveys to find out how your business is doing and what customers want that you’re not offering. Hold focus groups with loyal customers who represent key target markets for your business. Finally, listen to what your customers are saying on social media. Whether you engage them in a conversation or simply “lurk” and listen in, you’ll gain valuable insights into how you can serve them better.
4. Create a VIP program. Treat your best customers like they’re VIPs—because they are! Consider instituting different levels of VIP programs, such as silver, gold and platinum. According to research cited by HelpScout, people will work to attain a higher level in the loyalty program when they know there are lower levels below. You can also host special events for your best customers, such as a “Customer of the Year” luncheon for a B2B company or a private, invitation-only sale for a B2C company.
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5. Provide outstanding customer service. No matter how many carrots you dangle in front of them, customers won’t remain loyal to your business if your service isn’t up to par. In fact, it’s got to be better than “up to par.” With so many alternatives available at the click of a mouse, both B2B and B2C customers have higher standards than ever for customer service. Convenience, rapid resolution of problems and knowledgeable salespeople are key factors in customer satisfaction. Conduct regular training in customer service standards, measure and monitor customer service performance, and reward employees who go above and beyond in providing customer service.
About Rieva Lesonsky
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.
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