It is estimated that it costs nearly six to thirty times more to get a new customer than it does to service and maintain the loyalty of an existing customer. Businesses often struggle to cut costs without realizing that customer retention is the key to a healthy bottom line at the end of the day. Therefore, it’s important your current customers choose to stay with you. Even if your business is doing well, your customers can leave as quickly as they came.
In fact, customer attrition is the single largest cost for many businesses. Management gurus say that keeping customers happy has the same effect on the bottom line as cutting costs. In fact, simply by increasing your customer retention by 5%, you could increase your profits by at least 25%.
Building any type of a relationship takes time, whether it’s personal or business. It’s an essential part of your business to help maintain and grow your customer base. Long-term clients are more likely to refer others, and are more likely to purchase additional products and services from you. Here are 10 solid strategies for retaining your long-term customers.
- Touch base frequently. If they recently placed an order or you provided a service, ask them for feedback. Showing you care about their satisfaction level speaks volumes about your commitment to them. It can also provide you with an opportunity to gain insight on other products and services that you can offer to gain new business. Spend thirty minutes each day talking with two existing clients. Ask them what they want, what they need, and what they like/don’t like. Implement the ideas that work for you. Your current customers are already doing business with you and are more likely to buy from you again. Focus most of your time, efforts, and resources on better serving your current clients. Go deeper instead of wider.
- Respect their time and communication style. Treat your clients with honesty, humor, and respect — and maintain this over time. If you are consistent with them over time, they will see you as dependable, credible, and trustworthy. Nonetheless you still must tailor your approach to their communication (DISC) style as your customers vary in work load, style of communication and desire to share information, so your approach should be just as diverse. If your customer doesn’t appreciate you’re just stopping in then call in advance to set up a time or invite him or her out for coffee.
- Follow through on your commitments. If you promise to send information or to follow up, do it. You will gain loyalty and trust by always doing what you say you will do. It shows your commitment to a high level of service and establishes confidence in you and your company. Also, if an issue arises, take action and make it your priority to resolve it immediately. Sometimes errors and how we resolve them provide an exceptional opportunity to show our commitment to the customer–take a bad situation and make it a positive.
- Connect with your customers. Find out about their lives, their hopes, goals, and desired outcomes. Ask questions that encourage a deeper sense of shared understanding. Greater levels of connection create greater mutual satisfaction.
- Have fun. It’s easy to get caught up in goals, outcomes, and deliverables. Of course these are important, but clients also want to work with people who enjoy what they do. The more fun you can have while providing strong outcomes, the longer your clients will stay.
- Position yourself as a resource for life. Let your customers know you will be around long after the sale. Let them know they can come back whenever they need. This can help differentiate your company from your competitors, who may just be in it for the short term.
- Ask for feedback and input. At some point in the working relationship, solicit feedback. Ask your clients how they feel about working with you and ask if they have suggestions for how the working relationship or outcomes can be improved. Asking for their ideas shows that you care about their opinions and value their contributions.
- Become a resource. Stepping out to assist someone doesn’t always mean you’ll get an immediate return on your efforts. Refer a customer to them, help with an event or offer suggestions. When they, or someone they know, are looking for a product or service that you offer, you’re more likely to be foremost in their mind. The more you get to know them, the more you’ll be able to offer assistance by knowing their needs. Partner with your clients in a marketing effort, workshop, or special event. The more opportunities you have to spend with your clients, the more you will connect on a personal basis.
- Listen, listen, listen. Your customer may provide cues that might be your gateway to providing a personal touch. If they indicate that their child is heading off to their first year of college, or they are taking a long-awaited vacation, jot these things down on a calendar so you can ask how things went when you do a follow-up call. Or they might state that it was their birthday last week. Put that on your calendar so the following year you can send a birthday greeting.
- Know the Competition. Spend time collecting information about your competition and know what they are doing. In this competitive world, it is difficult to stay ahead. Ask customers to keep you informed about what they are hearing and experiencing from the competition.
- Keep learning. The more you focus on gaining new knowledge, new skills, and new experiences, the more you have to offer your clients. The more you have to offer, the more they will benefit. The more they benefit, the longer they stay. Keep focused on your own professional growth and learning. Both you and your clients will benefit.