6 ways to win and retain your customers
How to keep your customers
If we accept that winning new customers is tricky, we should also know that retaining them is equally so.
Each year the average business loses around 20 per cent of its customers by failing to nurture its relationships with them, according to the consultancy Marketing Wizdom.
But it is worth the effort as studies have consistently shown that it’s six to seven times less expensive to keep a customer than it is to attract a new one.
So how do you do it?
1. Learn to appreciate your customers
The Telegraph wrote in a 2017 post, “Customers are fickle things. Unless you are one of the global megabrands, loyalty, it seems, is only as strong as the last sale.”
This attitude probably shows exactly why.
You have no right to expect loyalty from your customers; they’re giving you their money. If anyone owes anyone else fidelity here, it’s you.
So how can you show your appreciation?
Doing something beyond what you have to is one of the best ways to retain customers. Send loyal customers coupons or money-off codes, or a birthday card or gift (trust us – everyone likes getting birthday cards).
Offering them useful, interesting advice related to what you do, such as news, features, videos and guides, is another way to add value to their lives – which is, after all, your raison d’etre.
Use social media to engage with your customers – show appreciation for positive comments and help those who mention issues, approaching them even if they’ve not complained to you directly.
2. Be pleasant
Every experience a customer has with you should be a positive one.
www.entrepreneur.com reported that as many as 86 per cent of customers will pay more for a better experience. So your website needs to be easy to use, your store easy to navigate and your team needs to be helpful.
Speed, as long as it is not at the expense of anything else, can only ever be good; a product cannot arrive too quickly, a website cannot load too fast. (The reverse issue – a website being choked with adverts and pop-ups and loading too slowly – is almost guaranteed to drive people away.)
This also applies to the companies with whom you associate yourself and that reflect on you whether you like it or not.
One particularly baffling experience I’ve had was with a parcel company who insisted I didn’t live at my own address. While your courier’s failings are not yours, the effect on the customer is the same – their interaction with you has been less than easy and not wishing to repeat the experience, they may not shop with you again.
3. Be courteous and responsive
Respond to communications from your customers quickly and genuinely try to help.
Many customers get frustrated with agents who have clearly been trained to rigidly stick to a script, or with service that seems unnatural or robotic. As David Tomas, CEO of Spanish marketing firm Cyberclick, says, “What clients want are genuine answers. Be polite but natural.”
4. Fix problems promptly
You probably wouldn’t have put complaints at the top of your list of ways to win customers and keep them for life.
But the way you deal with complaints can transform an unhappy customer who is considering parting company with your business into one who is impressed by how much you value their custom.
Acknowledge complaints and respond quickly, even just to let the customer know you’re looking into the issue and will respond fully later.
Keep your word – if you’ve promised to get back to them within a certain time, do so. Above all, listen and show you care that your customer has had a bad experience. Apologise (sincerely), put it right if you can and compensate them if possible.
This will cost you less than losing their custom. Too often, companies handle complaints appallingly, becoming defensive and giving customers reasons why they can’t help instead of trying to do so.
Your customer will never consider this reasonable.
If you want to keep them, you have to find a way to solve their problem, even if it involves a bit of work and sometimes even if the failing was not really your fault at all.
5. Encourage reviews – good and bad
Removing negative reviews from your site isn’t going to fool anyone – especially the customers who submitted them.
Negative comments will still exist elsewhere on independent review sites – it’s best to encourage your customers to come directly to you with their less-than-glowing feedback so you have an opportunity to put things right.
This shows you care more about providing a good service and making your customers happy than about your image and that your company is “big” enough to admit that it makes mistakes.
Online reviews can also be useful to customers in a more practical way, for example in helping people choose correctly between different clothing sizes.
6. Inspire trust
There are many different methods of attracting customers and retaining their loyalty but in the end, everything comes down to this:-
The best way to retain customers is to win their trust, affection and respect.
Showing that you are a genuinely ethical company and that you share the same values as your customers is never going to be to your disadvantage.
Take care to uphold your values in all you do – otherwise they’ll see straight through you. You’ll need to work hard to prove your business is trustworthy and having a strong set of values is a great place to start.