If you're NOT currently investing (and I don't mean investing money) in your customer's experience or customer retention, then you need to stop what you're doing and read further. Imagine being able to decrease
your customer acquisition cost WHILE ALSO increasing
the sales to returning customers by 3X to 4X every year. Today, developing loyalty with your customers is more important than ever. Ironically, nurturing and retaining loyal customers is an often-overlooked strategy. In fact, for many of our clients, customer retention wasn't even on their radar when we started working with them. Each and every one of these clients have asked us, "why is this that important?" Each and every time we tell them, "because loyal customers become advocates and advocates generate revenue for your brand or business."
Customer Retention is All Human Nature
Within the culture or mindset of great customer experience is a single foundational principle that I would argue is human nature: People will go out of their way for people that went of their way for them. If you're a business owner, leader, or manager, you should see it this way: Customers (people) will go out of their way to tell other people, friends, and family about a business (managed or owned by people) that went out of their way for them.
So, why should you make customer retention and experience a priority?
There are 3 quick reasons why:
- Studies show, on average, a customer you retain will spend close to 3 times more on other products and services.
- The cost to acquire a "returning" customer is basically nothing. They're already a customer.
- Returning customers are 70% more likely to become an advocate and advocates will bring you new customers.
So, here are 7 customer retention tactics that you can start using now.
1. Use gratitude and appreciation as a way to surprise your customers.
Surprising customers with small gifts is a full-proof way to boost your customer retention rate. You can send a pair of socks with the new shoes they bought, or an extra ear cap with the headphones. In addition, find ways to send a personalized card or thank you note will do the trick. It doesn’t have to be big, but it REALLY needs to be personalized. Personalization communicates care, value, and appreciation.
2. Email Marketing: Test different strategies and send consistent emails.
Use the data you already have to create a product list that they might be interested in. Send it with a personalized subject line and skyrocket your email click-through rate. Also, make sure that the copy and image compliments each other, the font you use is readable and the images are highly engaging. Most importantly: the content of these emails should be customer-focused and add value to them. This is not the place to talk about yourself.
3. Seamless customer service.
We tell our clients to always assume that consumer behavior will change faster than any technology. We believe this helps them stay focused on the value of customer retention. Just like you, we know the consumer decides the channels they prefer to be contacted on and when they want to be contacted. So, in order to boost your customer retention rate, provide a consistent and seamless experience on all channels. These channels include email, SMS (text messaging), social media, live chat, and support, etc.
4. Ask for and pay attention to customer feedback.
An important part of customer experience is capturing, analyzing, and acting on customer feedback. You will be surprised by the results. And, when you act on customer feedback, tell your customers. This is a great example of a reason where you can send out an email, text, or social post talking about the new feature or option that you're acting. And, be sure you mention that you're acting on this because your customers asked for it.
5. Create a sense of urgency and be willing to "break the rules" to enhance the customer experience.
By offering time-limited promotions, you actually create a sense of urgency. This compels even the laziest customers to act fast. But, we all know the feeling you get when you're late to the deal by an hour, a day, or even a week. So, be willing to break the rules a little. If your limited time offer deadline has passed (up to a certain amount of time) and a customer mentions the offer then honor it. Think about it. They'll feel appreciated and valued immediately. They'll tell people what you did for them and others will want that same customer experience.
6. Upfront honesty and simplicity is the best policy for customer service and retention.
The best way to retain customers is, to be honest with them. Always be honest about your return policy, refund policy, payment process, etc. Just like the previous tactic, don't be so strict on the things that you can control. This is another great opportunity to help a customer. Customers are known to go out of their way for businesses that went of their way for them.
7. Never promise too much. Always add more value than the customer expects.
These two principles are cliche, right? So, why is it that many businesses across every industry rarely seem to conduct business in this manner on a day to day basis? Over-promising hurts your reputation and shatters customer trust. Adding more value and over-delivering in a way that's unexpected quickly gains trust equity between you and your customers. Lost or broken customer trust is rarely repaired by adding more value in a way a customer doesn't expect. But, when a high level of customer trust and loyalty exists, a one-off missed deadline or miscommunication is often overlooked or even met with much more forgiveness and understanding. Be upfront, transparent about timelines or policies, and always keep communication channels open. This is one of the best ways to generate and retain trust with your customers.
It's important that I mention the customer retention tactics listed below are NOT intended to serve as a replacement plan for bad customer service or to make up for a customer's bad experience. Here's a true story that happened to me a couple of years ago. I ordered a pair of tennis shoes for my wife for one of her Christmas presents a few years ago. These tennis shoes were a limited edition design that she really wanted. As I began searching, I learned that the shoe brand that created them didn't even carry them anymore. After searching for a while, I finally found a brand new, never worn before pair in her size at a reputable online, third party shoestore. And, because these were a limited edition and hard to find, I paid a premium price for them. On December 23rd, they arrived. The only problem was, the shoes they sent me weren't the shoes I ordered. The packing slip listed the shoe I ordered, but the shoes in the box I received weren't even close. Instead, they sent me a men's shoe, in a different size, and in a different color. So, I called this third party online store (yes, they had a phone number on their website) to see how they could handle an exchange or refund. I talked to a real person...and eventually, I also talked to that real person's manager who was also a real person. (Crazy right...for an online super shoe store). So, what happened? Well, after talking back and forth with both the support person and her manager, they told me that they couldn't send me the shoes I'd ordered because they didn't have any more of them in my wife's size, a half size bigger or a half size smaller. They also informed me that I would have to pay to ship them back to them. Yes, I would have to pay for shipping back to them. When I asked about a refund, if I sent them back, they told me they only do store credit.