Whether you are a service or a product based business, having solid customer retention strategies in place are crucial for your success, growth, and longevity.
By “customer retention strategies” we don’t just mean providing a great product, exemplary service, and amazing experience along the way.
All the super smart readers of Spin Sucks are already well aware of those needs for customer retention and work consistently to provide the best product, service, and experience possible (and then keep making it better).
Today we are going to look more specifically at proactive customer retention strategies. Those processes and activities organizations have in place to keep customers loyal, coming back, and spending more.
Customer Retention Strategies By-The-Numbers
“But Laura,” you say in dismay, “I barely have enough time in my day to think about or execute business development efforts, how in the world am I going to find time and energy to focus on customer retention as well?”
If you want to grow a successful business, you don’t have a choice. Acquiring new customers (while definitely necessary) is anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining current ones.
Additionally, research from Bain & Co shows that increasing customer retention by five percent can lead to an increase in profits by 25 to 95 percent.
Think of it this way: you might buy new clothes, but that doesn’t mean you don’t also wash your current clothing items. Ignoring customer retention is the same as throwing away a clothing item every time you wear it.
If you don’t have a proactive customer retention strategy you are essentially bleeding money. Right now, as we speak….code blue
So call 9-1-1 and let’s make this a priority.
The Many Ways To Keep a Customer
The good news: there are many ways to keep a customer and the majority of them require very little extra resource investment (either time, money, or people). They simply require a strategy.
I outline a few below to get you started but know you can mix, match, swamp, and shapeshift any of these to make them work best for your organization.
<Insert Name Here>
Do you know the most powerful word in the world?
Want to turn a rude server or angsty service rep into your best friend? Use their name.
Want to instantly soften someone and get them to open up? Use their name.
Trust me on this, it works EVERY TIME.
Names are powerful. And using them in an authentic way shows someone you see them as an individual. This matters.
Individualization is one of the most crucial of all customer retention strategies. A customer is more likely to stay with a business who treats them as a unique person.
Ninety percent of customers appreciate it when a business knows their account history and current activities with that company.
It’s not hard to individualize things for customers with basics like customer relationship management tools. Even the most simple of them allow you to make sure anyone who interacts with a customer knows who they are and their background.
And yet….even organizations who should know better often don’t make this a priority. Not doing so is just being lazy and sloppy.
So whatever you do, whoever you are, please stop right now and look at your customer individualization process.
- Can all team members who serve as customer/client touchpoints access information about them?
- Do all customer touchpoints understand how to properly address a customer as an individual and speak to their unique needs.
- What simple protocols can you put in place to ensure customers know you SEE them as unique people vs. widgets or dollar signs?
Educate The Masses
If your customer doesn’t know how to use your product or the value of your service they won’t keep using it.
Education is an important customer retention strategy for BOTH product and service companies. You have to make sure you customer understands the value of what you provide and how they can get the most from it.
Hubspot is a killer example of education done well.
HubSpot Academy offers both free educational content and content accessible only to clients. They do a great job teaching people how to use their products and making them a part of how their business operates. Essentially Hubspot partners design their business growth plans around their products, making it pretty darn hard to leave.
Data is the Customer Retention OG
Target was one of the first major brands to tap into the power of data to anticipate buying habits and proactively offer incentives to encourage customers to choose Target to fill them.
Many people have heard the famous story about how Target predicts pregnancy. They, and other retailers do that…and so much more. In some cases, they are better at knowing what we want then we are.
When Target started this process, “big data” was only something big brands with big budgets could tap into. Now predictive analytics is more accessible to everyone.
Understand Your Customers and Learn from Feedback
Data and predictive analytics can help you understand your customers, but so can feedback from them.
This is a super high tech technique <sarcasm font>.
Talk to your customers and actually listen to what they have to say. Then appropriate changes based on productive feedback. Customer retention strategies built around feedback are incredibly powerful.
Think about how you can develop a process to collect and review this type of feedback from customers. A combination of direct feedback and social listening is best. That way you can learn from what they say to you directly AND what they say about you indirectly.
Then let customers know when changes have been made based on their feedback.
Even if you don’t adjust anything as a result of feedback, always, always, always, ALWAYS acknowledge and thank customers who take the time to let you know what they think. Good or bad.
Reward Loyalty. Create Brand Junkies.
Unless there is some extreme reason (like one doesn’t exist, which is rare), I stay at a Marriott wherever I go.
This is true even if another hotel is in a slightly better location or a slightly better price.
- I can count on a certain level of quality at any Marriott, so it’s safe and predictable.
- I’m a Marriott Rewards member and not only am I treated extremely well because of my Marriott status, but I also yearn for points.
And here is where they really get you: the more status you have, the more points you get with each stay. So you constantly strive to reach the next level of achievement.
Like a video game junkie, I’m addicted to leveling up. Just one more stay, just a few more nights, hit me!
And I’m not the only one, a 2016 study from Accenture found customers who are members of loyalty programs generate between 12 and 18 percent more revenue than non-members.
Shock and Awe: Customers Like Engagement
Shocker! Customers love it when you engage with them. Crazy, right?
But customer engagement actually does lead to customer retention.
Customers who are highly engaged buy 90 percent more often and spend 60 percent more per transaction.
Customers who feel connected to you emotionally, even see you as friends, stay. Study after study confirms this fact.
Think about all the different touchpoints you have with your customers, across all media types.
- Where are you missing opportunities to engage and interact with them?
- Where are there times you can pull them into the organization further and make them feel like it’s a “we” not a “them.”
Create and nourish an authentic relationship and active community with your customers and it will drive your business growth and success in every way.
Stay in Front of Them
For some businesses, it’s easy to stay in front of customers consistently. But for some businesses, it’s a bit trickier and you have to be creative.
And out of sight, out of mind is a VERY true adage.
Chris Williams has one of those businesses, here’s what he has to say about how they handle customer retention.
“We’re an IT agency that handles pretty much all IT-related tasks for customers. Including website development. When your computers are all working fine, you tend not to think about IT support. If we call a customer about IT support, well, they don’t want to talk to us. But a website is another matter.
It’s a 24/7/365 presence that runs whether you think about it or not.
If a website’s built well, it tends to remain stable and do its job. But a website can’t self-update, or tell you when it’s broken (see my guest post on quarterly website checks). So one way we stay in contact with customers is to check in with them regularly about their websites.
Several customers retain us for monthly website maintenance. It’s a small expense; just 1-2 hours of billable time. But it keeps their websites up-to-date, secure, and stable. I take care of this for them. Every month I send a simple report by email…even if it’s just, “I performed my usual maintenance tasks. Everything’s running like it should.
Some of our website maintenance customers haven’t used us for IT support in years. But they’ve kept the maintenance up. Eventually, when the website needs larger work, I tell them what we can do, suggest a start date…and so far, it works over 50% of the time.”
And that friends, is a customer retention strategy you can take to the bank.
Make Life Easy
One word. Amazon.
Amazon makes shopping so easy, you simply no longer want to shop anywhere else.
Millions have people have changed their shopping habits because of Amazon. I’m one of them. And while there are many reasons for this, a BIG ONE is ease.
Customer retention strategies which work to make your customer’s lives easier are paramount.
What daily life frustrations can you remove?
Your Own Customer Retention Strategies
Now it’s your turn. What customer retention strategies do you employe successfully for your organization or client’s?