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How To Retain Your Customers

When people think of marketing, they invariably think of generating new customers and while all businesses need new customers, it makes much more sense in the first instance to know how to retain your customers.


You may know that it costs 5 times as much to generate a new customer as to retain your customers so once you have a customer you should hold onto them for dear life.

The problem is that too many businesses take their existing customers for granted. They’ve done the hard work and won them as a customer – job done. They now milk them for as long as possible while moving their focus onto the next new opportunity.

I received a piece of direct mail the other week from a furniture retailer and on the outside of the envelope it said “10% off your first order*” and underneath it said * Applies to new customers only.

It actually made me laugh.

How can a business be so crass.

How would you feel as an existing customer especially if there was something I wanted to buy but knew that new customers could buy it 10% cheaper?

I assume the mailing didn’t go to existing customers, but judging by how stupid the marketing was, I wouldn’t be totally confident that it didn’t.

Reward loyalty

Instead of penalising existing customers, savvy businesses will reward them. This can take different forms.

  1. Identify what customers have bought and give them a discount off related items.
  2. Offer them a benefit on an upgrade on their normal purchase
  3. Launch a loyalty scheme
    The standard format is to offer points for purchasing that provide discounts off future purchases. Not only does this tie customers in to your business and make them feel good but it can also provide you with valuable purchasing data. The ultimate example of this is Tesco, who via their Club Card have massive amounts of data about their customer’s purchasing habits which they’ve exploited ruthlessly over the years.

Listen to your customers

Customer service is one of the key differentiators which keeps customers coming back to your business.

If you want to know what customers are looking for, the best way to find out is to ask them and the best way to ask them is via a survey.

These days companies like Survey Monkey make it dead easy to send out surveys.

The key thing is to act on the survey information you get back. Sometimes you may not like what you hear, but if that is what your customers are saying, you ignore them at your peril.

The other point is that surveys can show you issues that specific customers are unhappy with. This gives you the opportunity to deal with the issue immediately and head off the problem before the customer votes with their feet. Write to them or even better phone them up and take action to give them what they want.

Keep in contact

Over 80% of customers who change suppliers do so not because something terrible has happened but because they don’t feel loved.

One way to make them feel loved is by staying in regular touch and adding value by providing useful information, special offers, product updates etc.

One of the best ways to do this is via a newsletter and ideally a printed newsletter.

Now while that may sound a bit old school to you, I only recommend it because it works.

Newsletters have to be filled with interesting information, have plenty of pictures, not be entirely focused on selling the company and even have a few jokes and competitions. In short they need to be visually attractive and easy to read.

Keeping in contact via newsletters, emails etc tells your customers that you’re interested in them and you’re keen to maintain close relationships with them.

If you take these points on board, your customer retention should be very good, which will mean your business will be able to grow instead of struggling to stand still.

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Keep Your Customers Loyal Instead Of Having To Continuously Win New Ones

Winning new customers is hard work.

New customers have to go through the process of deciding whether they believe you are the best supplier, whether your price is right and vitally whether they like you enough to do business with you.

So it makes perfect commercial sense to do everything possible to keep your customers loyal. Bizarrely lots of small businesses tend to forget that retaining customers is just as important as winning new ones.

Keeping your customers loyal also doesn’t have to be expensive. Often very small things can make all the difference.

The following tips should go a long way to making sure your customers reciprocate your love and stay with your business.

Stay in touch

It’s estimated that over 80% of customers who change supplier do so not because they are unhappy with the service but because they don’t feel loved.

It’s so easy to avoid this. You just need to talk to your customers regularly. Keep them informed of any news and developments at your company, any special offers and any way you can help them.

Send them things you see in the press that relate to their area of business, retweet their tweets, like items on their Facebook page. Just go out of your way to have regular contact and demonstrate your commitment to them.

Get to know your customer base

Get to know who are your most profitable customers and those that you think have the highest propensity to re-purchase. Make sure you understand them and why they have chosen to do business with you, so you can give them more of the stuff they come to you for in the first place.

Show them you care

If you can move the relationship from the purely professional to a more social, friendly basis not only will your working life become more enjoyable but it will tie your customers into you. A small token of your gratitude for their business at Christmas and acknowledgement of their birthday, while admittedly not original, will certainly not go unnoticed.
How much you spend and whether you decide to take them out to lunch or dinner is up to you and how much you’ve developed the relationship.

Give them your best offers

So many businesses use discounts or attractive offers to get you ‘hooked’ and then once you become a loyal customer suddenly the offers seem to disappear.
This is really short sighted.
Your loyal customers are the ones who deserve your best prices and if they discover what you’re offering to new customers are likely to disappear in a huff meaning you’ve got to start the process all over again.

Take all these ideas on board and assuming that your core business is top quality in the first place, you find that your customers buy from you time and again and you’re not spending all your time replacing lost business.

Business Development Advisors will advise you on ways to both win and retain your customers. Please get in touch.



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What Is There About Your Business That Makes Your Customers Go “Wow”

Does your business have the” Wow Factor”?

When I work with new clients on their customer proposition, one of the elements we work on is what can we do or offer that will give us the Wow factor. What I’m looking for is something about their service that the customer isn’t expecting, which  absolutely knocks their socks off.

You achieve the Wow factor when you go over and above the customer’s expectation and surprise and amaze them.

The first time I can remember being wowed in this way, was the first time the garage that was servicing my car, cleaned it inside and out. I was absolutely bowled over.

Why Is the Wow Factor so important?

Having been wowed by the garage servicing my car I did two things.

  1. I became a raving fan of and totally loyal to that garage.
  2. I told all my friends about it.

This is possibly the key point. When you bowl your customers over, the likelihood is that they will sing your praises far and wide. Your number of referrals is likely to rocket.

The Wow Factor doesn’t have to be big and expensive

My wife is a chiropractor. After she has treated a new patient, the next day she will phone them up just to check that they’re feeling OK.

Time spent: 3 minutes. Cost: 5p.

Effect on the patient: Massive.
She has demonstrated that she actually cares about them and they’re not just a statistic and a source of income.

A few months ago I was working with a technical writer and we were agonising over what he could do to give his service the Wow Factor.

What we agreed was that after doing a piece of work, he would hand write a letter thanking the client for the work.

OK you say it doesn’t sound like much but when did you last receive a hand written letter in your business.

You’d certainly remember it wouldn’t you?

So have a good look at your business and decide what you can do to give yourself the Wow Factor. I guarantee that your business will benefit massively.