The success and long-term value of any business depend heavily on the relationships it builds with its customers. Therefore, your company’s most valuable asset is how it is known to its customers.
Customer retention leads to consumer loyalty. Customers are more likely to buy repeatedly from a brand or company they trust. So how does a company build trust? By developing a solid relationship with its customers.
Customer retention simply means nurturing long-term customers.Long-term customers tend to spend more money, costs less on advertising, and recommend new potential customers to you.
Amazon has invested heavily in developing an impressive recommendation engine, which features:
- Personalised product recommendations based on customer’s browsing history;
- Displaying items regularly purchased together, based on the behaviour of other shoppers, to increase the average order value through up-sells and cross-sells;
- Sending personalised recommendation emails to recommend new products that previous customers might be interested in; and
- Displaying recommended products with customer reviews in promotional emails as social proof to encourage you to buy.
You may not have Amazon’s technology to make things easier, but most businesses can implement one or more of these tactics with a bit of ingenuity.
Strategies to gain long-term customers
Here are three easy strategies you can implement:
Consistently provide support to your customers
Buyers like to know that you’re always available to answer questions or solve problems they may be having.
But you can go one step higher and educate customers on potential issues they may face in the future relating to your offerings, giving them a chance to start a conversation with you about the other products or services your company offers.
And always say thank you!
Survey your customers
Simply ask them for feedback when you make a purchase or as soon as possible afterwards. Measure customer satisfaction ratings and make sure you handle negative feedback promptly.
Make sure you ask why a customer is cancelling or downgrading.
Provide incentives to your long-term customers
Show them that you value their support.
A discount on future purchases, special offers or loyalty schemes especially if sent with a personalised message will make customers feel valued and special and more likely to buy again in future.
Loyal customers are your unpaid salesforce
Spending time nurturing long-term, loyal customers are likely to pay off much more quickly than seeking new customers.
Loyal customers will gladly recommend you to their friends and family, providing your business with opportunities you did not have access to beforehand.
If you understand that you’ll actively look for ways to encourage them to refer new customers vouchers, loyalty schemes, special offers, “friends and family” schemes there are so many possibilities.
But don’t take referrals for granted – ask for them.
Why you should focus on customer lifetime value
A one-off sale is all very well, but if you can encourage that customer to come back and buy from you again and again they are far more valuable to your business.
Think about how much each customer spends with you every year, and how many years they might keep coming back, and you get a different perspective.
Loyal customers who repeatedly buy from you and refer others have a high lifetime value that makes it well worth investing your time and money in them.
In addition, a loyal customer base will also enhance the value of your business in the eyes of an investor or purchaser, should you decide to sell the business.
Three strategies to maximise customer lifetime value:
Offer recurring contracts
They tie customers into you and discourage them from shopping around. Try, if possible, to build in future price increases, but you may wish to offset these with loyalty bonuses.
Exclusive offers and services
It can be a cheap (or even free) way to reward customer loyalty – consider offering regular customer privileges, exclusive early bird access to new services and products, or special access to your team for advice or service.
Help cement the relationship and build loyalty; regular communication and customer newsletters (with special offers) can be largely automated with modern technology.
The value of repeat sales
It’s well known that getting new customers is much more expensive than selling to your existing customer base.
A previous purchaser who values and trusts your company or brand is going to be open to buy from you again (and again) – after all, it’s human nature, we’re creatures of habit.
However, generating repeat sales does not just happen. It takes deliberate action to create opportunity for repetition and loyalty.
Here are a few techniques you should use to keep customers coming back
First, always deliver on your promises
Do what you say you’re going to do, and make your priority your customer’s happiness.
If they feel you have their best interest at heart, they’re more likely to trust you and keep buying your products or services.
Always say “thank you”
It sounds simple enough, but make your customer feel valued and important. Find a way to show appreciation for their business.
Building trust and following up with your customers will hugely increase your chances of making repeat sales.
Constantly reinforce your relationship with your customer by ensuring the quality of products or services, answering queries (and especially complaints) promptly, meeting deadlines and so on.
Go above and beyond
Closing the deal may be your priority, but if you make it your goal to exceed customer expectations your chances of getting the sale will be a lot greater.
Find ways to stay in touch with customers and make them feel special – offer them ongoing support and advice, upgrades, service, or perhaps special deals for existing customers.
If you product or service is a regular or annual purchase, get them onto a database and send them a reminder as the anniversary approaches – and before they have a chance to buy elsewhere.
Investing in your existing customers will also turn them into an effective, unpaid affiliates for your business as they rave about you to friends and family and refer new customers to you.