Quick facts:

  • Most customers aren’t loyal.
  • Majority of first-time customers are in the process of fulfilling particular needs, and are not interested in long-term engaging relationships with a brand.
  • Returning customers are far more profitable than newly acquired customers.
  • It is easier and more cost effective to sell to an existing customer than to find a new one.
  • Marketing Metrics explains that you are 50% more likely to sell to an existing customer than a new one. In fact, marketing to a new customer is nearly seven times as expensive as maintaining an existing customer.

What all of these tell us is that while you may want to continue to bring in new customers, your success is greatly determined by your ability to increase your repeat customers. On average, your loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase.

When it comes to client/customer service, apart from offering top-notch services, have you thought of how to ensure that you retain your customers to guarantee continuous patronage? The first impression matters a lot. Your company may not be one of the best in town but how a client perceives you trumps how good your product or service is.

Long-term, profitable customer relationships do not happen overnight which is why it is important to continue nurturing the relationship after the initial win. By investing in customer retention from the start, you can dramatically grow your bottom line while transforming one-time buyers into committed brand enthusiasts.

Unfortunately, marketers tend to focus too heavily on acquisition — a costly mistake. With acquisition costing six to seven times more than retention, the only path to sustainable growth is a commitment to keeping your customers around. Still not convinced?

After analysing 33 billion visits to 180 eCommerce websites in 2012, Adobe discovered a compelling reason to invest in customer retention; returning customers are far more profitable than newly acquired customers. More specifically, they found the following:

  • That repeat customers deliver 40% of revenue, despite making up just 8% of visitors.
  • That one return customer delivers the same revenue as five new customers, on average.
  • That customers spend three times the original purchase amount when making a second purchase, and that this number only continues to increase over time.

What tactics do you then employ to engage your customers and drive them back to your product/services after every purchase?

1. Your Social Media Channels

Social media is one of the best tools you can use to communicate and engage with your customers and loyal advocates. How do you ensure that you drive customer retention via social media?

  • Post user-generated content: Your social media followers do not want to see your perfectly staged product photos all the time — they want to see your products being used in real-life. One of the best ways to remind customers how great your products are, is by encouraging everyone who buys from you to share photos of themselves using your products on your social media pages.

2. Train Employees

Your employees should know that all visitors are their personal customers, even if they do not have a functional role with them. This means making eye contact, smiling, saying hello and asking if they can help. Doing these can make a significant difference for a potential customer and make them feel welcome enough to consider maintaining a business relationship.

3. Phone calls

Use phone calls as opportunities to invite relationships. There is so much information on the Internet that if a customer takes the time to call your business, they want to speak to a person, not a machine. Always have an associate answer the phone during business hours and use that interaction as an opportunity to create a relationship — don’t just answer the question in a hurry. Provide useful information and get the customer excited about visiting your place of business.

4. Keep refining your product or service

The awesome thing about customer service is that it also serves as your research and development arm. By interacting with your customers, you learn exactly what people are looking for and what concerns them. This should not be taken for granted.

Diligently take note of the concerns of the customers and improve your product or service based on the customers’ pain points. Ensure you also give your customers a call back if any of their product concerns have been resolved. This will make them feel that you care.

5. A Neat Workplace

Ensure you have a neat and well-organised workplace, especially near the entrance where visitors can see. Your company should reflect the professionalism you intend to convey.

6. Include data-driven recommendations in transactional emails

Transactional emails are triggered by a specific action, like completing a purchase, registering for an event, or signing up for a free trial.

In this case, we’re recommending that you include data-driven product recommendations in the email you send to confirm a customer’s order.

Say your customer ordered a pair of earrings. By including three top-selling pairs of earrings at the bottom of their order confirmation, you nudge them to make another purchase right away.

7. Encourage upsell and cross-sell with personalised product recommendations

Product recommendation emails differ from transactional emails in that they’re sent proactively. That is, instead of waiting for the customer to browse your website, you nudge customers to buy by sending a carefully curated selection of products straight to their inboxes. Basing these recommendations on their purchase history will increase your chance of making the sale.

8. Reward customers for desired behaviours

One sure-fire way to build customer loyalty is to reward customers for engaging in behaviours that help grow your business. For example:

  • Making a purchase
  • Following your brand on social media
  • Sharing product pages with friends and family
  • Publishing product reviews
  • Spreading positive word of mouth online

9. Use customer care emails to build brand affinity

Customer care emails are effective and free ways to build good will. Here are a few ideas to stimulate your imagination:

  • Celebrate customer milestones. Has your customer crossed an activity milestone? Have they spent a certain amount of money? Have they been repeat buyers for certain periods of time? These are all occasions you should celebrate.
  • Wish customer happy birthday. Recognising moments that matter to your customers helps you build a relationship with your customer.
  • Show a bit of gratitude. Saying thank you after every purchase demonstrates that you value their business. This simple two-word message can go a long way in earning your customer’s respect.

10. Offer Refreshments

Invest in a nice water or coffee system. Place it where customers can easily find it and serve themselves while they wait or prepare for their meetings.

These are not hard and fast rules. Ultimately, what you sell has a huge impact on which strategy you should focus on. Stay customer-centric!

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